Apps are all around us and given the fact that both Apple and Google are doubling down on app technology, you need to make sure yours are performing as well as they possibly can. It’s not good enough to throw together an app, chuck it into a store and hope they’ll all come running. You need to put some real effort in. So here are five handy tips to make sure your apps are singing in the new year.
1. Tell people about it
If your readers don’t know your app exists then they’re not going to go looking for it. Spend real money on marketing your app – whether that’s house ads in your print edition, or digital marketing on your web properties. Or, god forbid, actually spend money on AdWords and other paid digital marketing channels. Your app is like any other product, you have to invest in telling people about it if they’re going to use it.
2. Get your content out there
There’s a proliferating array of distribution channels emerging for your content, from your website, mobile web and your app, as well as an ever growing set of platform-based content apps such as Apple News, Google News, Facebook Instant articles, Snapchat Discover and on and on. The trick is to use these third party channels to get your content seen, and then drive your readers into your own properties where you can properly control how you engage with them. If you’re clever, in one step you can send new readers from someone else’s service right into pages deep your app.
3. Allow people to search inside your app
Thanks to recent advances, both Apple and Google now allow the content in your apps to be indexed and searched. No longer are your apps searchable only by name and a few keywords. In fact, it’s now possible to have your app content surfaced in a Spotlight or Google search and then drive your potential audience either to the appropriate content in a web page with a smart banner pushing people to your app, or better still, to deep link right into the app if they already have it installed. And with Google currently testing out app streaming, this is going to get even easier, as readers won’t even have to download your app to use it.
4. Keep people coming back
Just because you’re a periodical, it doesn’t mean you have to publish content to your app in the same frequency that you publish to print. In fact, a healthy mix of edition-based content and continuously published articles will give you the ability to keep readers coming back to your apps more often for timely updates, while giving them the ‘finishability’ of the editions they know and love. And with the intelligent use of segmented push notifications, you can let your readers know when content that is relevant to them has just been published and get them back in your app with one tap.
5. Give it some love
Your app should not be some unloved byproduct of your printed publication. If that’s all it is then don’t expect people to come and read it. Your app should be created with your mobile audience in mind and also with the devices they have in their hands in mind. Deliver content that is relevant to them. Add services that they might need. And most importantly, design pages that are beautifully legible not just on tablets, but more importantly on phones (which massively outnumber tablets). The only way to do this efficiently is with responsive design – using layouts that arrange themselves according to the screen that they are displayed in.