Developing a B2B App for Your Startup
By Jolene Rutherford, Last updated: 2023-01-11 (originally published on 2021-05-31)
A typical smartphone user likes the convenience and predictability of dedicated apps. For B2B sales, an app provides an easy way to simplify the choice of service, if it solves a problem for the business, and they can access it from their smartphone.
These behavioral trends have pushed more brands to follow suit and create their own dedicated apps. Software development is a challenging process, so if this is not your core expertise, you might find yourself wondering how to tackle app-building for your brand. What kind of features should you include? Any payment methods you should consider or ditch? Can you envision the ideal user journey? What about marketing your app before and after launch?
Although every app is different, and your project requirements will be unique, some best practices in creating apps are truly universal. To help you maximize the impact and the user experience with your app, let’s go over some of the most relevant perks of building an app, as well as the best practices you can rely on in the process.
Different ways to monetize your app
There can be many reasons for your brand to develop an app. Perhaps it helps provide invaluable information from your industry, or as an extension of a paid service within your business.
In any case, your app should be a source of income for your business. It has the potential to build loyalty and return business, but it should also be a profitable endeavour. A few options to consider:
- In-app purchases for those who want the extra content or value. Apps like Duolingo have a free service, but they also offer a paid version. Your app can have its own free and paid versions, different levels of subscription, and new features customers can pay for.
- Your app can be free in and of itself if you run an e-commerce business, so that they can use it as a digital store with their own personalized recommendations, content, past purchases, etc.
- You can have ads within your app that pay for the app itself so that users can have the app for free.
- Pay-to-download is another option that is alluring for some brands, depending on the kind of service and features your app will have.
Focus on app and user security
Cybersecurity is a vital issue for any business, and it needs to extend to your app. Chat with your developers to see what they can do to make your app foolproof in terms of security. It all depends on the kind of data your app intends to store and collect from its users, but also the security protocols you can rely on for your app.
To inspire other businesses to download and use the app, you need to create a clear image of safety. When the market sees they can use your app without any issues, they’ll be much more likely to not just download it, but also to use it and engage with your brand.
In addition to doing your best to build security, ensure brand validation through reviews that will showcase other users’ opinions in the app store, but also on your website. That kind of social proof helps enhance trust, which in turn means that users will feel safe purchasing through your app or sharing information via your app.
Selecting the right features and functionalities for your B2B app
The overall user experience should reflect your core brand identity and values, but since an app is a unique communication channel, it needs its own set of features. If you have a clear outline of the purpose the app will serve and the ways in which you want to interact with users via the app, you should then map the user journey and define the core features your app needs to fulfil its purpose.
If you are working with an app development company to create your branded app, discuss the most vital functionalities you should consider. Experts have plenty of experience and they can point you towards the most desirable and user-friendly features depending on your industry. Moreover, they can help you understand which features are possible, and which are not.
- Let the very first version of the app be fundamental in nature: don’t go overboard with features. This will help you test its impact and gauge the interest of your users.
- Set up a clear app layout from the get-go, so that you and your developers know what to expect.
- The features you choose will define the length and scope of the project, so decide if it’s more important to have the app ready quickly or to develop it fully before the launch.
- Consider developing a prototype first, to see what you need to work on to make it better.
- Consider adding chatbot support inside the app to gain as much feedback as possible for the next stages of your development cycle.
Marketing and content development
An app isn’t just a tool to make your business more profitable. Even more so, it’s a whole new communication outlet that gives you direct access to your ideal B2B demographic. Use the app as an outlet for customized, personalized content, particular to the person using the app. Thanks to various analytics tools at your disposal, you can refine your digital marketing strategy to perfectly match the needs of your app users. From that marketing perspective, an app is the perfect funnel for developing new leads, maintaining existing customer relationships, and inspiring loyalty.
- In-app content can vary depending on your app’s purpose. Make sure you don’t overdo it, but also don’t be stingy with value-based content.
- Send personalized notifications when you have new features on the app.
- Offer in-app discounts for long-term app users to inspire them to stay true to your brand and to keep using your app.
- Share useful, practical, and inspirational ideas with your users via the app. That kind of in-app content can make them feel valued and heard.
Get ready for continuous testing and updating on your B2B app
If you’re not a dedicated software development company, you might not be entirely sure as to the value of continuous, post-launch maintenance. The simple truth is, your app cannot survive without updates, upgrades, and other types of improvements.
Choosing to work with experts in app development is the best way to go when you’re looking to connect with customers, build your brand’s reputation via the app, and increase your profits. That requires continuous testing.
Let your marketers know what kind of KPIs to keep track of within your app user demographic. That will help you not lose customers simply because you’ve failed at delivering great content, despite the app being spot-on in terms of purpose. Let your developers monitor the app’s performance and security, and you’ll protect your investment for the long haul. Customer reviews will help developers resolve issues, leverage automation as much as possible, and make your app more functional over time.
Immediate availability for your customers
The main reason so many people download apps instead of just using your website or Facebook page is for the sake of convenience. Via the app, a user can get instant access to your brand’s offers, personalized gift certificates, customized offers, and the like. The app also serves as a direct portal to your customer support in case they have a question or a concern.
This kind of availability has become particularly beneficial during the pandemic. Businesses have become more reluctant to engage with other businesses in-person, so an app, paired with contactless payments, serves as a secure way to interact.
On another note, in-app targeted marketing campaigns help customers save time and effort. It’s easier for them to order a product or pay for something when you notify them it’s available and ready for them. Suddenly, instead of spending countless hours searching among hundreds of products, they can get notified when their favorite game, t-shirt, or coffee is available. Such availability helps brands retain customers and it allows you a new way to personalize your offers through smart targeting.
No two apps should be the same, but recognizing common steps and best practices in the process of app development can help you elevate your overall brand reputation. Keep in mind that much like for any other customer touchpoint, you will need to continuously develop and evolve your app experience to meet your clients’ expectations, if not even exceed them.
The app itself is an extension of your presence, not a stand-alone universe. Make sure that it can be woven into your entire strategy and help boost your brand’s relevance in your industry and in the eyes of your customers over time.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.
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