It’s a saturated app market – in fact, it’s predicted that the mobile business application market will reach $53 billion in 2017. For business applications to stand out and stay competitive, product managers need to make sure they have a plan to get their app in fighting shape not just for today’s market, but also future shifts and shiny new competitors.
Even if you’ve created an awesome business app that’s loved by your customers, it might be time to take it to the next level. With a few app enhancements, you could make your product more valuable (which means more revenue) or at least keep people in your app longer (which builds customer loyalty… and ultimately means more revenue).
You can add all kinds of bells and whistles to your product. But what’s really going to make it stand out? Where will you get the highest return on your investment?
Let’s walk through three of the most-effective app enhancements you can make—from low-hanging fruit to big improvements that will get you big rewards.
1. Do a Deep-Dive into Your Users—and Find the Gaps
Back when you launched your product, you probably did a massive amount of research into your customers. So you know who they are, but do you have a good handle on where they are? In what context are your customers accessing your app? What are they looking for in the moment they use your app?
Once you understand where and how customers are working with your product, you can start to identify any missed opportunities (and there are always missed opportunities). The best way to find these gaps is to ask what your customers look at after they leave your app. What is their next step after using your product? Could you possibly offer that information or that functionality in your app, so they don’t have to switch?
People hate jumping from one interface to another, one app to the next. Think of Google Maps: They started as just a geo-mapping app. But they thought about the other information their users were finding after using the maps, and they gradually added content in context: business hours, phone numbers, and even reviews for local businesses—not to mention traffic conditions and appointment reminders. It’s all baked in to the app you’re already using.
By minimizing the need to jump from your app to another, you not only make your product stickier—you also increase its value exponentially.
2. Increase the Sexiness Factor
Now that you understand the context in which your customers are using your product, consider what you can do to improve the UI and UX. Again, there is always room for improvement here. Just look at the auto industry: Every new model comes with updates to the interface (redesigned interiors and exteriors, updated gauges, new controls) and experience (sensors everywhere, cameras everywhere, easy integration with all your other gadgets).
It’s the “judging a book by its cover” conundrum: Before a user judges an application based on its actual performance & usability, they judge the look and feel of the user interface. If an app doesn’t look good, people will assume it doesn’t work as well as an alternative app with a slicker design. And while the “ugly” app may actually perform better than the “sexy” one, users will almost always perceive a nice-looking product as more effective than a dull-looking one. You can thank (or blame) Apple for that.
Updating the UI and UX of your application requires a perfect balance of math and design. Look for inspiration in everyday items and keen observations of how people interact with the world around them. Understanding human behavior—in particular, the behavior of your app’s users—is crucial to designing a better product.
3. Add Dashboards and Reports
What makes an app compelling? We’ve already covered the importance of supporting the right actions in context and delivering a slick UI/UX. But the best apps also deliver high-value insights within the product.
In a world where your watch can tell you how many steps you’ve taken today versus the past 30 days, and your home’s thermostat identifies trends in your temperature preferences, employees are expected to be increasingly data-driven. That means workers are constantly checking to see how their actions are affecting the performance of their organization.
It comes back to the question we asked earlier: What is the next action your users take after they interact with your product? If your customers can take some actions in your app, but can’t measure the effect of those actions there, then you’re ultimately losing them to someone else’s product.
One of the best ways to make your app stickier and more valuable is to add dashboards and reports. We recently asked hundreds of software and app providers what happened after they added analytics to their products. They reported that, on average, they were able to charge customers 24 percent more than their initial offerings. That’s a huge opportunity that you could be missing.
Even if you already have some dashboards and reports in your product, there’s a good chance they could be better. The same survey showed that the deeper you embed analytics into the product—and the more you integrate dashboards and reports with your customers’ preferred workflows—the more benefits you’ll see. Infusing analytics into applications was shown to most frequently increase user satisfaction, drive revenue, and create a competitive differentiator.
Still, most application providers simply do not embed analytics as deeply as they should. If you’re thinking of adding dashboards to your product—or if you want to improve the analytics that you’re already offering—jump on our webinar series about how to embed analytics in existing applications.