What is mobile?
Mobile covers a range of platforms, technologies and user interfaces. Think phones, tablets, watches, TVs, voice interfaces, and wearables. See What is 'mobile'? for more information.
What does a good mobile strategy look like?
Defining business goals
This is the place to start with a project. What are you trying to achieve? How will you know if you have been successful? With these defined up-front, you can make appropriate solution and technology choices, and measure quantitatively if you are on track.
Your app will fall into one of two categories. Technology apps use tech features of mobile devices, such as sensors and bluetooth connectivity, to provide the main functionality of the app. User engagement apps, on the other hand, use the "always present, always on" nature of mobile devices to allow increased customer engagement.
App business model
How will your app generate revenue? Common models include gaming, e-commerce, consumer audience/advertising, Software as a Service (SaaS), enterprise, service access, and cost saving. It is important to understand and validate your business model and tailor your solution accordingly.
Define who your customers are. For example, they could be end users, an enterprise, or advertisers. Based on your customers, who will your end users be? Once you know this, you can start to define how you will acquire and engage users, and what platforms to target.
Competitor app analysis
Get to know your competitor's apps. What is their business model? How do they acquire and engage customers? With that information, you can decide if you will compete on the same points or if you will leverage strengths in areas where they are weaker.
In order for your app to be successful, you will need to drive user engagement. At this stage it's useful to consider how you will keep users coming back to your app: user experience (UX), notifications, incentives or seamless device integration.
How will you get users onto your app? Some examples are to use existing business channels, social sharing, app store optimisation, and app store ratings and reviews.
Understanding what your users need to do, before building something to let them do it, means you're more likely to build the right thing in the right way.
There are a multitude of mobile platforms — deciding which subset you will target is important. Target too few and you'll lose potential market, too many and development will become expensive.
Store rules and guidelines
Before starting, you need to validate that your app is within the store rules and guidelines of your chosen distribution method (most often the Apple App Store and Google Play Store).
As well as abiding by store rules and guidelines, you need to ensure that your solution stays within regulatory and legal rules for any territories you operate in.
External systems and integrations
Mobile solutions rarely exist in isolation. What external systems will drive, support, and integrate with your app ecosystem? From admin systems that manage your product, to data solutions that drive your user content, considering these early on will help you select the right architecture.
Next, you need to choose your app architecture. You need to choose between web, hybrid, cross-platform or native, each having its own pros and cons. This is a big decision because it's costly to change later, but much easier to make once the rest of your strategy is in place.
Analytics and monitoring
At the app level, analytics is crucial for two reasons: to monitor the technical health of your app after release, and to measure against your goals and objectives. Beyond that, it feeds into your wider data strategy and back into your app to drive dynamic content.
If you choose to develop a native or hybrid app, you can distribute it via public app stores or private enterprise channels. Your choice will be informed by the rest of your strategy, particularly your business model and your target market.
Once your platforms and architecture are chosen, you can implement your technical delivery process.
Evaluate and iterate
Use analytics to measure against your goals and objectives so that you can do more of what's working, and less of what isn't. Run experiments with A/B testing to support changes with data.