Why Your Brand Needs A Custom App
You know you need your own custom app to grow your business. Here's what you need to know to make yours a reality.
You and your team have big ambitions for your brand. You know it has a TON more potential and you know other people out there are getting done what you know is possible for you to do, too. Now you’re ready to do something about it.
You’ve probably heard some variation of the stories of:
A New York Times best-selling author who just launched a new 7-figure revenue stream with online courses.
A podcaster who has expanded into selling 5-figure annual memberships in a private community.
A professional organization that 3x’ed their annual renewals and delivered their best annual conference in years.
A yoga instructor who 2x’ed her members to 90,000 in JUST ONE MONTH.
These folks are just like you and your team. And their success is becoming the norm. You know there’s no reason why your brand isn’t yet delivering these same killer results.
So, what do these brands above have in common?
They all took the leap to invest in creating their own native mobile apps on iOS and Android (and obviously, the web too).
At this moment, you might be saying to yourself a few things, “Hold up. I thought native mobile apps weren’t necessary anymore and people were abandoning their mobile apps. Isn’t the mobile web enough?” *or, “Is it really necessary to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in custom app development to see these kinds of results? Isn’t there another way to get this done? Mobile web, perhaps?” *
We get it. You may want to be told that the cheaper, but slower, clunkier, and less effective mobile web option is enough to see the kind of results real people just like you are achieving today.
The truth is that not only have native mobile apps not gone away, they’ve become even more important for brands to have in order to differentiate themselves, build relationships with their people, and grow their businesses faster.
The mobile web just doesn’t cut it, especially if you are offering online courses or a membership site, both rapidly growing categories of new digital products or services revenue savvy businesses are seizing upon today.
As trust and confidence in big social networks shrinks, people are looking to move into smaller, more focused communities, which you’re working to build. But there’s a catch—they want the same mobile experience they get from those big networks.
That’s why you’ve got a choice to make: Invest now in creating your own native mobile apps under your brand and realize spectacular results, or keep fighting for attention against them with both hands tied behind your back.
3 Reasons Why You Need a Custom App For Your Business
Not yet convinced? We get it. Let’s take it from the top.
When you choose to build a custom mobile app, you are creating a world for your brand that’s all your own. Your people. Your content and online courses. Your culture. Your rules. All instantly available on every platform and easy to discover in any app store.
What will this investment translate into for your growth, your customers, your relationships, and ultimately, your success? Here are 3 concrete reasons to invest in custom app development:
Mobile notifications mean your people build a habit around your brand. People pick up their phones hundreds of times a day. In fact, the mobile habit is so strong, there’s now a feature that reports on your screen time. That’s the sign of a powerful platform, and it’s one ripe for you to take advantage of. With your own custom mobile app, it’s not just the app that instantly deepens your relationship with your people and their relationship with your brand. Mobile notifications are the secret connector for your folks to create new positive habits around your apps.
An app brings everything you are doing together into one place. Messaging, community chat, public feeds, gated content, online course material, notifications, payment processing, all of it—your content is centralized instead of scattered across three different social apps, a payment app, a course platform, and anything else you’re using. In an age of distraction, not having to send someone to something else to engage or post—where they can get pulled away by distraction—is a big win.
You can charge a premium with a seamless mobile experience. By creating a way for your people to interact with your brand—while they’re waiting in line, any time they have a quick minute–you are building value in their eyes. They know that custom app development can be hard (and expensive), so if you have one, what you’re doing must be successful. And when someone thinks that what you’re offering is successful, they’re willing to pay a premium for it.
You might ask, “But can’t I just do this with a mobile-friendly site?” Unfortunately, no. Even the best mobile web or “responsive” websites are slow, clunky, and awkward compared to their native mobile counterparts. And as people spend their time on familiar, habit-native mobile apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, these set the standards for your brand online. You need mobile apps that perform like the biggest players, and when you invest in them, you can charge more for the results.
With a custom mobile app for your brand, you can get people’s attention, keep it with a deep, delightful experience, and charge a premium for access, either for membership subscriptions and/or for online courses.
Custom App Builder: What to Look For
Ok, you’re sold. So just exactly how do you go about getting a custom app?
Unless you’re a coding wizard, you’ll need someone to create this mobile app for your brand. No matter what type of content and connections you create, you’ll be looking for the same list of traits in custom app development services.
First, you’ll look for a good portfolio of brands like yours. Different app developers specialize in different types of apps. They have workflows that support different designs and functions. If they have brands like yours, they’ll have insights into the way content like yours moves in the mobile digital space—insights into the best gestures, organization design, and visual layouts. You’re looking for someone who understands your business and business model—what you charge for and why on your app. This way your app can be built with your audience in mind.
Second, you’re looking for functional, yet still compelling visual design. Even more than with websites, the user experience in an app is critical. More than just looking good (that’s got to be a given), your custom mobile app needs to be functional, intuitive to use, and fast. When firms talk about beautiful design, it’s got to include all of these elements, not just the obvious one.
Third, you want someone you can work with over the long term. Custom app development is a marriage, not just a fling. Mobile apps must be created, tested, iterated, and then updated constantly. Even if your app is “done” and out in the world, it’s never really done. You’ll be working with your custom app builder for a long time. Choose the person who creates your app where you have good communication and rapport.
How to Make a Custom App: Key Features
✋ Raise your hand if you’ve really thought about how the mobile apps you use the most actually work.
We thought so.
Often with the mobile apps we use everyday, they are so intuitive, we barely think about them. That’s the sign of a good app (and good apps get used a lot).
But in practice, creating a mobile app that’s so intuitive that you can’t remember how it actually works requires paying attention to a zillion little things that matter. These features will make your custom app stand out with an experience that inspires your people to make your app a habit:
Simple menu structure-Make sure your app design reflects your users’ desire for simplicity and ease of use. Your people are willing to adopt a new custom app if it functions like other apps they understand, but with a maximum of 1 or 2 important benefits they can’t get elsewhere. This takes some research, but erring on the side of doing as many things as possible in a familiar way will save you time and avoid pain.
Fast-loading images and content—Reduce clutter and clicks, speed matters more than clever animations.
Offline app usage—Offline content and capability allows greater use time as well as lowers concerns about data consumption. Create a way for people to access their favorite features without a connection.
Customer feedback and support—Find bugs, get feedback, solve people’s problems quickly by making it easy for your users to report them.
In-app analytics tools—While it’s easier to engage on mobile, you’re still going to want to know what’s working, what’s not, and where you want to experiment next. Get the data you need to optimize and support the activities that are working the hardest for you and eliminate the ones that are falling flat.
Communication framework—Tap into your members’ everyday rhythm of alerts and create clear conversation channels in your app. Look for notifications, messaging, posting, updates, pages, and feeds for your people to come back to your custom app, connect with other users, easily contribute to conversations, and private message the right folks on topics that are important to them.
Easy admin backend—You shouldn’t need a degree in computer science to update your content and maintain your app. Simple updates you can make yourself in an administrative dashboard will be important.
Payment processing—Apps are a revenue stream, but not without native payment processing. You want to be able to have a mix of free and paid resources, and collect payment for upgrades and add-ons without making your people leave the app. This will start to get tricky with Apple and how they manage payments, so be careful to talk about this with your development partner upfront.
Seamless experience between your apps and your website—You want an app that is in line with not just the look and feel of your brand and website, but the experience and how it functions as well. Most people will expect that your website and app will have the same account for them, and they can do the same thing in any place. If you have a functional website, you’re going to want your app to be connected.
Custom App Development—The Process
How do you make your own custom app?
First, brace yourself. A truly custom app is actually very difficult to make. When folks who have not developed an app or design a product before dive into creating a custom app, they usually find a few things:
It’s really expensive—in the hundreds of thousands of dollars…or more.
You need considerable technical knowledge to ensure that you get what you want.
Initial development has nothing on maintenance and upkeep.
Launching in the app stores–with approvals, policies, and appeals, then more approvals, policies, and appeals–is not so easy.
These 4 painful realities of custom app development have been the downfall of many non-technical entrepreneurs and creators who know they need a custom app, invested money in building a custom app, and yet never actually got a custom app.
The good news is that while there are remain thousands of custom development agencies ready to build you a custom app, there’s also a new approach that’s just now emerging:
Working with a new breed of software platforms, you can eliminate the risk, price, and headaches of custom app development and replace it with flexible software that’s instantly available on every platform–web, iOS, and Android–with your own choice of features– especially community features, online course features, events, member profiles, payments, and more–all delivered directly into the app stores under your own brand.
This new category is called “custom-ish development,” and it’s a way to get all of the benefits of building your own custom app with a lot fewer of the pitfalls.
With custom-ish development, you pick the features you want, then focus on the things you’re best at: Putting out great content that attracts people to your brand, bringing the right people together, and building a healthy, profitable brand instantly available across every platform.
Owning the environment, putting everything in one place, and having a mobile presence is crucial to your success. With your own mobile app, you’ll see your brand take off. It’s time to build a brand that rises above the rest—starting in the palm of their hands.
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