It’s not enough anymore to make a fantastic app (although that certainly is part of it). Developers who want to make their fan base happy will need to do quite a bit more to ensure that users continue to use their apps after that initial download. One of the more intriguing opportunities to come along in a while for the developer ecosystem is the chance to develop apps specifically for the Ultrabook™, especially for the next-generation devices coming soon with touch sensors, geo-location, and other fun computing goodies. People are going to be looking specifically for apps that they can run on their Ultrabook devices to take full advantage of these technologies, and therefore developers who can make their apps appealing to this demographic are going to be in a very good position.
In this first of two articles, we’re going to take a look at twenty different ways that developers can drive customer loyalty through Ultrabook-specific apps. Now, some of these might be especially for Ultrabooks, however, most of them will work for any platform you might be developing for.
1) Make them available in a centralized hub: The app store model – that of a centralized one-stop shopping location to take advantage of the gazillions of apps available – is a recognized success. It works because people don’t have to go flitting from one website to another in order to find the apps they need. One of the primary places to find Ultrabook apps is the Intel AppUp® center, a relatively new digital storefront that consumers will be looking at in order to find apps that will showcase all the cool stuff that their new Ultrabooks can do. You can read more about why AppUp is important to developers here: Ten Reasons Why Developers Should Take A Look at the Intel AppUp Center.
2) Take advantage of the Ultrabook’s sensors to make the app as engaging as possible: The Ultrabook offers developers a unique opportunity to really sink their teeth into emerging technology. Creating apps that showcase touch sensors, GPS, accelerometers, AOAC, NFC, and so on will give end users the ability to see these technologies up close and personal, and will make inroads on creating brand loyalty not only for your app, but for the Ultrabook platform. You can learn more about Ultrabook development at Intel’s online Ultrabook community.
3) Figure out who your demographic is and target the app accordingly: Judging from the sheer amount of downloads from various app stores (numbering in the billions just from Apple alone), people are obviously very willing to try new apps. However, it behooves developers to take a long-view picture beyond just that initial download and figure out how they can focus on retaining those customers, making them into die-hard fans who will continue to use the app for the long haul. Studying the analytics of app downloads (usually provided within your app store dashboard) will help developers analyze the demographic profiles of the people who are interested in their apps, making for a more targeted marketing campaign and also aiding in future updates of the apps themselves.
4) Know the OS for which you are designing for: One of the key points touched upon in Luke Wroblewski’s newest touch design video (check it out here: Re-imagining Apps for Ultrabook (Part 3)) is that developers need to know how the operating system that they are designing for handles common commands that might be duplicated in apps using new Ultrabook technology. For example, certain touch gestures that work perfectly fine in an app might accidentally also bring up system controls, therefore confusing the user and considerably reducing the trust that they might have put in the app they just downloaded. It’s smart to know what standards you are dealing with as far as operating systems, and develop the apps accordingly.
5) Don’t overdo it: In a recent discussion with a local developer team, I was introduced to the term “bullet point developer”; basically, stuffing features into an app simply to check off those ubiquitous bullet points in an app description. In other words, pointless additions that don’t make a lot of sense either from a developer or a consumer standpoint. Users are becoming increasingly more sophisticated as far as what they are looking for in their apps, and plopping everything in there but the kitchen sink isn’t the best approach. It’s quite tempting with what’s coming up in next generation Ultrabook tech to really go hog wild with app development, and if it makes sense, by all means you should totally go for it. However, for most apps, this will turn out just like when kids go for the bubble wrap on Christmas morning rather than the brand new widget that came wrapped in said bubble wrap. With great (Ultrabook) power comes great (app development) responsibility.
6) Personalized experience: A good user experience is at the core of any good app, and user-friendly apps are the most successful. Retaining customers beyond that initial download is tricky, but one of the best ways to go about it is to make the app more personal. For example, an app can read what preferences a user sets, what social connections are made, and construct the entire experience to make it simple for users to dig deep into secondary features, therefore creating longer use time which (hopefully) translates into greater longevity and loyalty. People have an esoteric connection with the devices they use, and the Ultrabook is especially poised to take advantage of that connection. Personalizing apps for both the Ultrabook and the Ultrabook user is a good investment that will pay off for the long term.
7) Geo-location: Designing an app with a built-in experience that is specific to a user’s location results in content or features that are more relevant to that particular user’s wants and needs. For example, how about a travel app that provides a personalized itinerary of cool places to visit based on the user’s current location? Or an Ultrabook app that uses the internal GPS sensors to take advantage of local geocaching competitions? Location-based apps are just another way to make the overall app experience more personalized, and a more personalized app is going to foster more app loyalty.
8) Social: People expect social features in their apps nowadays. The most successful apps integrate social sharing throughout their applications to both promote further distribution of content and pull in possible new users from users who are sharing within the app itself. Make sharing easy and provocative in Ultrabook apps, tying in Twitter, Facebook, or other networks that make sense. For example, if you’ve got a shopping app, it makes sense to put a Pinterest button in there so users can share products that they like. Deep social integration will make it easy for users to promote their favorites to their circles, as well as leverage communities that form around viral content.
9) Increase user engagement: Ever hear that old saying “honey catches more flies than vinegar”? Giving out points, loyalty rewards, and other incentives to users is a surefire way to increase user engagement. For example, how about an app that gives you rewards for purchases made both online and offline? Notifications can be sent to loyal customers from within these kinds of apps about their favorite items and the whole purchase cycle can potentially start again. The newest data about user engagement puts a very strong emphasis on loyalty as related to in-app purchases; basically, you can’t have one without the other. Again, the Ultrabook and Ultrabook-specific apps are uniquely poised to really create a fantastic user experience, simply by virtue of what’s included: Rapid Start, Smart Connect, battery life, superior performance, etc. These are all elements that can contribute to the increase of user engagement.
10) Analytics: One of the easiest ways to increase app loyalty is to look at the data. Developers can take advantage of client-side interaction analytics to figure out what is driving their customer base behavior, and improve their apps in specific ways that speak directly to what their users are looking for. Developers who keep an ear to the ground as far as what their customers are really looking for are going to reap the benefits. There are also several tools out there (both free and paid) that monitor what users are searching for as far when looking for apps at various app stores and via the Web; these include the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, AppCod.es, and MobileDevHQ.
This is part one in the series. In our next chapter, we’ll take a look at ten more ways developers can drive customer loyalty through Ultrabook apps, including push notifications, design appeal, and thoughtful monetization. If you’re a developer looking to create apps specifically for the Ultrabook device, please feel free to share what you’ve learned about driving customer loyalty with our community here in the comments section.