“Most people view mobile apps from a very narrow perspective, automatically limiting the possibilities and not fully grasping new opportunities which apps offer their businesses. Apps are an immense lead nurturing tool, which turns loyal customers into brand ambassadors, and gives business owners the opportunity to provide added value to their most valued clientele.”
So says Nikola Stolnik, the CMO of Shoutem. Nikola was kind enough to share more thoughts on the role that mobile apps play in the success of a business, as well as his opinion of which things you should never do when creating a mobile app.
What is your professional background?
I’ve been working in various fields of digital for the better part of the past 15 years. When I was in high school, I created my first websites using Yahoo! Geocities. For readers too young to know what Geocities was, it was an atrocious and very simple website builder powered by Yahoo.
Since then, I’ve built and owned two minor web projects (I refrain from calling them startups because I was running them as a one-man show with maybe one or two people helping out), Vidiovo.hr and Svikuponi.com. Both were aggregators. Vidiovo.hr was Croatia’s first news aggregator, similar to Digg at the time; and Svikuponi was a daily deal site aggregator. They were short-lived but were amazing learning experiences.
My first real digital position was back in 2010 in the role of Social Media Manager for Kolektiva, a daily deal site similar to Groupon. It was a first of its kind in southeast Europe. I was lucky enough to be one of the first 15 employees, and we quickly expanded to 6 countries and over 300 employees.
After Kolektiva, I was invited to join BBDO Proximity in the role of Project Manager for their Digital Dept. I went and took the opportunity because I felt it would benefit my overview of the digital landscape, and that I would get the first-hand experience on how agencies worked from within. After BBDO, I joined Google in Dublin, where I’ve worked for 2.5 years prior to joining Shoutem in the role of CMO.
Obviously, mobile apps intended for customer use can contribute greatly to the success of a business. But can mobile apps also help a company function better internally?
We have many case studies proving use cases for internally focused apps. Let me highlight a few key benefits. As both smaller and larger companies keep their own knowledge bases, many have trouble prioritizing within that content; and more importantly, a specific obstacle occurs when an employee needs to access a particular knowledge set.
Almost, as a rule, employees need to access a website, enter their credentials and then go through a painstakingly long (and not very intuitive) process of searching through the company’s internal knowledge database. An internal app solves this problem by categorizing companies’ knowledge data, which adds native search options while providing instant one-click access directly from employees’ smartphones.
How can employee-focused mobile apps improve the communication and workflow within a company?
Having a mobile workforce located across multiple locations, and more often than not being unable to access company infrastructure directly, an internal app can cure a lot of headaches simultaneously. By accessing the app, employees get a quick recap of the most recent company news, while not even thinking about web content accessibility over mobile.
In our brave new world of “mobile everything,” more content than ever is being accessed through mobile devices. Most of us grab our smartphones while looking for the latest news, and why would your employees be any different? If your only way of tracking company-wide updates is mobile – while being away from the office, traveling, or having otherwise limited access – then your company needs to provide a seamless, secure and accessible way of transferring information and data.
While mobile version websites might work, nothing beats the usability and stability of a native app. Native apps provide unique features that might be used in a plethora of ways. Push notifications for one can be used to inform all app users or a targeted segment of employees about urgent events. Mobile chat options are secured, limited within the company app, and offer communications across departments.
Since they have all of the features you need to be stored in one app while being able to store content for offline use, mobile apps make for a perfect internal business resource.
Do you think every business should have a mobile app for loyal customers?
For loyal customers, I do believe that most businesses would benefit from owning an app; but of course, there are exceptions. Rewarding loyalty is one of the most important business aspects which mobile apps take care of perfectly.
What do you wish more people knew about the role that mobile apps play in the success of a business?
I would separate this segment into two areas.
Brand Reach – Owning an app gives your business the opportunity to reach previously-unobtainable customers via different app-specific channels, as well as giving you the opportunity to market your business in a new, non-saturated environment. This means that with a smaller budget, you will be able to tap into new markets that your competitors are not yet able to touch.
Tech Awareness and PR value – owning an app brings its own bragging rights. Because the app environment among small businesses is still in its infancy, any business which owns a branded app automatically stands out as an early adopter and is seen as technologically-advanced in the eyes of their customers.
What do you ultimately aim to provide business owners?
We’re providing business owners with an instant solution to many of their business needs. Let me give you three examples:
- Stay in touch and inform their most loyal customers
- Turn brand fans into brand ambassadors
- Market themselves as a leader in their business segment
Our modules (options which you may enable while creating your app) provide business owners with a wide array of possibilities to reach these objectives and shape their apps into reality.
What are some best practices for companies who want to use mobile apps to grow their business?
Businesses need to be aware of the fact that their responsibility lies with promoting the app and providing the app’s audience with content they won’t be able to find anywhere else.
An app’s audience won’t magically grow, and growth won’t explode overnight unless you do your homework. Building and managing an app is a process and as such requires ownership. Setting up and executing a proper app promotional campaign (small or big) yields great results. If we take a look at a regular app user, they fall within a cross-section of that business’ previously-converted customer, who is also an early adopter.
Those customers require added attention, but in turn, bring new customers and present your app and your business as the best new thing. We might perceive this relationship as a romantic commitment between yourself and the highest tier of your customers; where it’s your job to woo them, and if they like what they see, they will send love back your way in the form of new leads and brand reach.
What are some things you should never do when creating a mobile app?
Having the right idea, execution and expectations is 90% of the battle. There’s a lot of work to be done and a good number of checkmarks to be cleared before we can sign off a successful app owner. Whoever tells you a different story probably just wants to make a quick buck, and I would advise caution.