NS804 – What we’re all about

We were recently named a top boutique app developer of 2019 by Clutch. It’s kind of awkward, if we’re going to be honest. Not because we think we don’t deserve it, or aren’t honored to be included next to developers like Dogtown Media and Red Foundry – it’s just we don’t usually talk about ourselves.

If you’re a reoccurring reader, you’ll know we pitch the services of our good friend Kumulos more than we do our own. We’d much rather talk about the awesome platforms clients of our’s have invented, like Lauren Bell’s product and safety recall app, Whystle.

This leaves this blog in a sort of grey area for us, stuck in the classic PR branding kerfuffle – write about how humble you are. Awesome.

So, let’s start with the important things:

What did you do over the weekend?

Well, while everyone was enjoying the three day weekend (if you’re in the U.S. at least), we were making the most out of the time we had – with our four day weekend. Our CEO has a family he enjoys spending time with, and we all have families, hobbies, and lives in general outside of work; so we work ten hour days (none of that lunchtime not counting stuff, either), and make every weekend a three day weekend.

Our senior UX/UI designer went to a music festival in Illinois, our business developer spent the weekend soaking up sun by the pool with his family, our senior Swift developer got a new apartment, and our project manager went to Miami, Florida. I spent the weekend hanging out in my favorite city…

Richmond

A few of us have been here our whole lives. Others hail from Indonesia, Boston, Colorado, California, NoVA, and Atlanta. We all found our way here by forging different paths, but NS804 brought us together. And I’m glad, because…

The people I get to work with are awesome

What do a sommelier, a wildlife rescue volunteer, a soccer coach, two dogs, and a cosplayer all have in common? They all work at NS804. We’ve got degrees from top-10-in-the-nation schools, self-taught programmers (the best kind of developer), and a CEO that’s built more successful businesses than you can count on one hand.

This is the business he always wanted to make, and when you’re here, you can tell. There’s passion present in every project we work on – not only because of the awesome ideas our clients bring to the table, but the fact that working with our CEO, and the team in general, is pretty darn fun.

We speak six different languages here at NS804, and that’s not including Swift, Java, and all the other programming languages our dev teams know. Our senior Swift developer taught herself Italian before she taught herself Swift.

And speaking of women in the workplace – our office is majority women, and in high places too. The following teams are led by women: project management, UX/UI, Swift development, accounting, HR, and content management (your’s truly).

So, thank you Clutch, for ranking us as a top boutique app developer for 2019! It means a lot – but what matters the most is that we get to do work we love, for great clients, with the people that inspire us to work harder – not to compete, but because we bring out the best in each other.

How much does it cost to implement backend CRM software?

Continuing with our quest to provide you with the most comprehensive answer to the question: how much does it cost to make an app?, it’s our next addition to the fray – and this time, we’re going over the cost of backend CRM (Customer Relationship Management) integration.

There’s the usual simple answer (that really doesn’t answer anything): it depends on the complexity of the CRM software and the mobile app that goes with it.

There’s also two different options, both of which come with widely differing upfront and lifetime costs and value:

  1. Purchasing (and then implementing) a third party CRM API = low upfront cost, high lifetime cost, low lifetime value
  2. Building your own custom CRM software, and then integrating it with the backend of your internal app = high upfront cost, medium lifetime cost, high lifetime value

If you want to go the third-party API route, the answer ultimately comes down to the SaaS provider you chose to go with. Going the custom CRM software route, will, in the long run, save you both time and money.

Before we get into the reasons as to why, we’re going to cover the basics of the functionalities a CRM software can provide – so when you’re planning out your own internal business app’s development (and the backend integration of its sister CRM software), you’ll know what to expect.

CRM software functionality

CRM software is designed with the intention of providing a hub for every aspect of managing your business’ relationships with its customers:

  • Management of: Contacts, leads, prospects, affiliates, and partners
  • Customer data: Storage and processing
  • Customer profiles: Personal data, contact information, history of past purchases
  • Process automation: Syncing communications, automating reports as well as email (and sometimes text) marketing efforts

Let’s go over the features that make those functionalities possible.

Lead management

Keeping track of leads is crucial in today’s market – and it’s no longer only large corporations that deal with high volumes of clients – small business must compete at a global scale in order to keep up.

One of the most practical methods to increasing customer loyalty is to develop and maintain a personal connection with every customer – from their initial point of contact with your business onwards. In order to effectively accomplish this standard, lead management is a necessary and effective tool.

By using the lead management functionality CRM software provides, not only can you disseminate leads to the right people, you can automate your mid funnel processes; such as marketing and remarketing campaigns that utilize email or text campaigns that serve to keep customers engaged with your business, thereby creating (and increasing) lead generation.

A perfect example of the efficiency CRM software provides is the automation of leads’ contact information – when a client fills out their info on your website, it’s then added to their customer profile in your database.

When your sales team adds contact information to a customer profile from a lead they just created, the data ends up in the same place. Not only does this make it impossible to lose or duplicate information, it means that if a sales representative is no longer with your company, the lead’s info stays within your database – not on their personal phone.

Process Management

When was the meeting with David? No, the other David. You know – the one with the on-demand dog walking app?

CRM mitigates the wasted minutes in those kinds of conversations. If an account representative schedules a call with David-the-dog-walker, your account manager will know as well, because all the information David and his business can be found in the same place – his client profile in your CRM software.

Assigning tasks, scheduling meetings, making sure follow-up emails are sent, and phone calls are placed is simple when it’s automated. You can even set up automatic notifications to make sure no task is left by the wayside.

Speaking of keeping everything in the same place, let’s move on to…

CRM Dashboard capabilities

Everyone loves a good dashboard – and with CRM software, you can create customized dashboards for each facet of your operations – from sales and marketing to service automation and even accounting.

Dashboards are the perfect tool for helping your employees understand the big picture, the pieces and processes that make it up, and their role in your business’ operations as a whole. They’re also excellent more mobile devices, as they are the quickest way to find information on a smaller screen.

Auto-generated reports and invoicing

There’s not much to say here, other than CRM software will put the “I want those reports on my desk by 5,” cliche to rest. Instead of spending countless hours tracking down and then organizing information, you can just click a button.

There’s nothing quite as inefficient as spending money to fill and send out invoices. The time and money spent on filling out documents that are, by their very nature, asking customers for money is one of the more catch-22 moments in everyday business life. Just like reports, filling out invoices is a thing of the past with CRM software. The program already knows who bought what, where it’s going, and who’s receiving it.

Lead Scoring

Knowing who to go after at the right time is a skill business developers must hone over years of professional development. CRM software can be used to automatically track and score the engagement of your users, and then update their profiles with their current score.

With a system that can quickly analyze and interpret vast amounts of data and interactions, you can better measure your leads’ online behavior, email and social engagement, and any other channels you use to engage with customers.

Wrap all that up in an app

The best part is that all of those functionalities can be packed into a mobile app – through integrating your CRM software with your internal business app’s backend. This means that when your employees are away from their desks, out in the field, or serve a roll that keeps them on their feet, you can still make sure they’re in the know.

This doesn’t mean replacing your CRM software with an app – merely that it’s just as accessible and useful when your employees are in situations that require them to be away from their desk.

The cost of implementing CRM software with a mobile app

Funnily enough, the cost of implementing your CRM software with a mobile app is a pretty low cost- your custom CRM software is basically it’s own API, so it comes down to how much time it takes to connect the endpoints with the backend logic of your app. A typical rate to do this would range from $75 to $125 per hour.

The true cost of implementing CRM software with an app is the actual development of the CRM software itself – building out a CRM system with the features listed above is a process that typically takes (at least) a few years.

The time it takes to develop is inexorably tied to the scale and complexity of the needs of your company – which usually means the greater your need for CRM software, the higher the cost to develop. The upfront cost to begin development of custom CRM software can range (again, depending on complexity) from $50,000 to $75,000. Over the course of a few years of development, costs can range from $175,000 (for a simple CRM system), and $250,000 – $500,000 for a complex one.

Those are high numbers – but consider the longterm costs of continuously paying for a third party CRM software; when looking at the most popular CRM SaaS provider, the option with the most functionality is $300 per user per month. If you have 25 users, that means $7,500 per month, or $90,000 in one year.

So, even if your custom CRM system cost $500,000 to develop, that cost is basically paid for after five years. In regards to the long term cost, the custom CRM software will win every time. Not only does custom-built CRM software have a lower lifetime cost, it also comes with a better value – since it’s custom, it’s made to specifically improve your processes, not business practices in general. This makes your employees who use it even more efficient with their time, which leads to happier customers, and more sales.

How to build a MVP iOS app

Building an app is never a simple process – but there are steps you can take to make your app’s development as smooth as possible. In a follow up to our Which is the better platform for a MVP? blog, we’re going to go step-by-step through the development of a MVP iOS app – from ideation, through development and testing, and onto publishing, launch, and post-launch development.

If you’d like a refresher on MVP development, check out our blog post on Clutch.

But first…

We need to reiterate why we’re specifically going over iOS MVP app development, and not Android. While there’s a lot of reasons as to why iOS is the ideal platform for a MVP, there’s one aspect that we will be covering in detail throughout this blog – user engagement:

  • iOS users engage apps for nearly twice as long as their Android counterparts
  • iOS apps have a higher retention rate than Android apps
  • iOS users download more purchasable apps than Android users and spend more money on in-app purchases:

  • Gaming app average revenue per user: $1.99 (iOS) versus $1.56 (Android)
  • Shopping app average revenue per user: $19.64 (iOS) versus $11.49 (Android)
  • Travel app average revenue per user: $32.29 (iOS) versus $20.47 (Android)

It’s stats like these that make up a market better suited for a MVP – not to mention the faster development and testing time for iOS apps, which compliments (as well as keeps up with) the already quick development cycle that makes a MVP a MVP.

The steps to (quick) iOS development

It’s important to note that there is no shortcut to development – if you want to make a good app, at least. The trick to achieving the speed of development that an MVP is known for is to build an app that works with as little features as possible.

To a service-minded company or appreneur, this can sound counter-productive, or even go against mission statements that boil down to “providing the best service possible.”

But a MVPs end goal isn’t to remain as a minimum viable product – once a MVP has had a successful launch on the App Store, the development cycle continues in the form of updating the code base of your app to include more features.

The efficiency of a MVP comes from those aforementioned iOS user metrics; user engagement, in the form of constructive criticism and requests, will serve as your market research and your app’s beta test. This is one of the deciding factors in the lower cost of developing a MVP app – that, and the shorter amount of time actually spent in development and testing.

Let’s look a little deeper into things.

Step 1: MVP ideation

All apps should stick to features sets that help solve their pain point – but a MVP, by definition, must so. A simple way to make sure your app is only utilizing features that play a role in solving your pain point is to write a list of everything you want your app to do.

Then, take your idea and start trimming the fat – let’s take a look at an example:

Let’s pretend that it’s a few years back, and we’re currently in the process of ideation for Brew Trader. Brew Trader is an app that connects craft beer enthusiasts by providing them with a platform that serves as a medium through which to trade craft brews with others in their area.

So, we write out a list of everything we want it to do:

  • A map that shows the locations of bottles up for trade, and is updated continuously so users can see the latest offers, as well as the ability to move the locations of trade beacons
  • A user profile that contains information the user wishes to share, as well as the user’s entire collection of craft brews
  • A messenger so users can DM each other
  • A trade history so users can find other users based on past interactions
  • A bar-code scanner to populate information about bottles available for trade

Then, we edit that list down to what Brew Trader needs in order to function properly:

    A map that shows the locations of bottles up for trade, and is updated every 10 minutes so users can see up-to-date offers

  • A user profile that shows their bottles available for trade
  • A messenger so users can DM each other (while a significant feature set, this is necessary, so users are able to communicate meet-up times and locations)

All in all, that boils down to three different screens, which are built out in the next step.

Step 2: MVP UI/UX

Let’s take those three feature sets and break them down into the visual elements that will make up Brew Trader’s UI. First of all, just like 99% of iOS apps, we’re going to need a bottom menu navigation bar.

This is utilized in UI design so a user can quickly switch between the screens that contain the feature sets listed above. This bar will contain three icons, which will each signify one of the three screens – those being the map screen, the user profile screen, and the messenger.

The next thing to do is layout your different screens.

The map will be hooked up to a mapping API, such as Google Maps. Google Maps is free, as long as your app is free. If you’re looking for other options, check out our blog about how much it costs to implement a GPS & mapping API.

The next element of the map screen to design would be the trade beacons, as well as the sub view that would pop up when selecting a beacon – this sub view would present the name of the bottle up for trade, as well as the user whom it belongs to.

The next screen to design is the user profile section. For a MVP, this should be done in the simplest way possible – a section to add a thumbnail profile photo, and fields to add and view bottles that are up for trade.

The final screen, the messenger, can utilize a messaging API – many of these can be tweaked to match your app’s branding and color schemes.

That’s all you need to design if your making a MVP. Next in line is…

Step 3: Coding a MVP

iOS apps are built using Swift, which uses the following components to create an app’s architecture:

View Controller – Think of this as the frame of a painting. The view controller, which is aptly named, controls what you see on the screen of your mobile device.

View – Within the view controller is the view. Think of this as the canvas of a painting – the view makes up the sum of all visual aspects of the app. Each screen of an app is a different view.

Subview – Subviews are the individual sections that collectively make up the view. Think of a subview as specific sections of a painting, such as how the subject matter is distinguishable from the background. More specifically, a subview would be the keyboard section of iMessage, or the section where text messages display.

Buttons – Buttons are… well, buttons. Within subviews, buttons are the interactive elements of apps. Think of the individual letters of the keyboard section of iMessage.

Images – Also within subviews, images are used to display specific pieces of visual information, and range from photos to logos and icons. An image can function as a button.

When it comes to coding, there really isn’t any difference between programing a MVP, versus programming a fully-fledged app. The shorter development time of a MVP comes from the smaller number of features to implement, which means less UI to build out, and less backend logic to program.

If you’re looking for tips on how to avoid costly mistakes, check out our blog on app development pitfalls.

Step 4: MVP testing

While one of the upsides of a MVP is your early adopters serving as your beta test, you still do need to test your app before you send it off to the App Store. This is especially true for iOS apps, as they face a rigorous review process before they are officially published on the App Store.

Not only will your app be rejected if it isn’t robust enough for Apple’s standards, a buggy app will only serve to weigh your growth efforts down. Users are more likely to abandon an app than stick with it.

Because of this, you must iron out the kinks of your app before it launches. For tips on conducting app testing, check out our blog on the topic.

Step 5: Publishing

After your app has been thoroughly tested, it’s time to send it off to Apple for review and approval.

In order to publish your app to the App Store, you must pay a annual fee of $99. If your app costs money to download, or goes by a subscription model, Apple will take 30% of each sale.

That’s really all there is to publishing your MVP app – the publishing process doesn’t differ depending on what type of app you’re making. All apps on the App Store go through the same review process.

Step 6: Launch

Launching a MVP is largely the same as launching an other app, but there is one very important factor to note.

Users will make snap decision based on the first impression of your app. Users do, however, make exceptions for small hiccups if they are made aware of the possibility up front. The nature of a MVP app isn’t to be perfect, but rather to provide the best current solution to an unaddressed, or under-addressed pain point in your user’s lives.

In your App Store listing (which we’ll cover in detail below), you’ll want to include a section that explains three things:

  1. You understand that your app isn’t perfect, but you’re working on making it better
  2. Users can directly contact you to provide criticism or make requests for features
  3. Users can expect regular updates

Remember – users are more likely to delete your app from their phone than they are to keep it. This is why communication is important with your users – but doubly so with a MVP. Your users need to know from the start what they are downloading. They’ll be understanding if you’re upfront and transparent about your app. They’ll ignore, or even worse, spread bad word-of-mouth about your app if they are kept in the dark about what you’re doing.

Step 7: ASO

There are two fronts to your app’s ASO – User acquisition, and user retention. These can then be broken down into sub-categories:

User acquisition:

  • Keywords
  • The app’s build and compatibility
  • The app’s page on the App Store

User retention:

  • User reviews and ratings
  • Time users spend engaging with your app
  • In-app purchases (if applicable)

For a MVP, when it comes to a keyword campaign, focus on one main keyword, and derive from there until you have 5 keywords to work with. To continue with our example of Brew Trader, we’d use:

  • Beer
  • Beer Trade
  • Beer Swap
  • Beer App
  • Beer Finder

There’s a lot more to planning out and implementing a successful ASO campaign. For more information, visit our ASO: 101 blog post.

Step 8: MVP post-launch

This is the most important step of a MVPs development, as your execution here will determine the trajectory of your app’s future.

Start with both keeping track of analytics, and engaging with your users. Use every channel available to you to engage with your users – social media, push notifications, and responding to user reviews in the App Store itself.

For more information about tracking your app’s analytics, visit our guide to measuring your app’s success with Kumulos.

Next, you’ll want to start updating your app. In order to do this, start from step one – ideation. This time, however, use the requests and criticism, as well as your findings from your analytics to direct where you should be investing your time.

Guest blog: Google Analytics for mobile apps is shutting down. Users move to Kumulos Analytics.

This is a guest blog written by our good friends at Kumulos, specifically Caroline McClelland, Kumulos’ Marketing Manager.

With 17 years of marketing management experience in global organizations including information technology, financial services and retail, Caroline has great passion for mobile marketing and building high performing digital teams to work creatively in all areas of marketing.

The topic of this piece will undoubtably be a problem for lots of developers – but not so for us (NS804). We have always used Kumulos, our preferred mobile analytics platform, for the majority of our projects because of the quality of the service their platform provides.

Google Analytics for Mobile Apps is shutting down. If you use the free version of Google Analytics, and if you have a free Google Analytics property collecting data exclusively from the Google Analytics Services SDK (Android or iOS), you should already have been notified. So, if you are one of the many that are using GA for mobile analytics, now would be a good time to step back and think about which app analytics service is the best fit for your mobile app development business.

Join the many, many app developers making the move away from Google to Kumulos ahead of the shut-down. Developers with apps of all shapes and sizes across a broad range of industry verticals are choosing to move from Google Analytics for Mobile to Kumulos. They tell us it’s because we are the analytics platform that gives greater clarity on how the apps are performing both technically AND commercially.

Which is nice to hear, because that’s precisely what we’ve set out to deliver. The Kumulos single pane of glass means we make it easier to understand app download trends, user engagement, user retention and user behavior, alongside the technical performance of the app, and any API dependencies impacting on users. So, past Google Analytics customers now get a more comprehensive view on how the app is performing.

If you’ve yet to select an alternative app analytics tool, the mobile app performance team here at Kumulos, will tell you everything you need to know about moving along the well beaten path transitioning from Google Analytics for Mobile, to Kumulos.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS FOR MOBILE APPS – WHY IS IT SHUTTING DOWN?

Many in the mobile app development industry are not surprised at Google’s decision. For a long time, the mobile version of Google Analytics has been considered to be slightly flawed. So is it a good thing that they are finally shutting it down.

Well, according to trusted sources such as Simo Ahava, Google is wanting all GA users to migrate to Firebase Analytics. So that will mean a new system to learn, a new system to set up and from those in the know, Firebase Analytics falls short of what many serious mobile app publishers need. So for some, this will be a backward step.

And, it’s not just Google Analytics that’s impacted here. Google is now starting the process of deprecating the legacy Google Analytics for Mobile Apps. This covers all data collection SDKs that do not have the word Firebase included. Also, take note, the Google Analytics tags in Google Tag Manager for mobile apps will be impacted.

OCTOBER 31, 2019 = DEADLINE

Now that Google has started the process of deprecating their Google Analytics for Mobile Apps you need to take action. In fact, Google has already started to decommission properties that receive data exclusively from the Google Analytics Services SDK. Data collection and processing for such properties will stop on October 31, 2019.

However, reporting access through Google UI and API access will remain available for properties’ historical data until January 31, 2020.

After this though, the service will be fully shut down. These properties will no longer be accessible via Google Analytics UI or API, and data will be removed from Google Analytics servers.

BEING PUSHED TO FIREBASE?

Moving from Google Analytics to Firebase isn’t an easy switch. If you’ve already taken a look at Firebase you will see why!  Hopefully you’ve started to look at other players in the analytics field.

Despite the Firebase team making the user interface a little more intuitive it’s still not the easiest platform to understand. Firebase is known for having a very different approach to analytics, as it revolves around the duality of users and events. Yes, it’s a free app measurement solution that provides data on app usage and app user engagement, but it’s far from comprehensive, isn’t easy to understand and difficult to build actionable insights into how app performance can be improved.

However, you should use this time before October 31, 2019 to think carefully about what’s the best analytics tool for your mobile apps. Then, based on this, look around and see if there are alternative app reporting and analytics tools that better fit your needs.

ABOUT KUMULOS MOBILE APP ANALYTICS

Kumulos is used by a broad range of different organizations, from large multi-national enterprises to the software developers that build enterprise grade apps for their customers. If you build apps for your own customers then we can offer you something very different.

Kumulos App Performance Management platform comes with a comprehensive range of services covering the entire life cycle of the app. Its 5 integrated services include app store optimization, analytics & reporting, backend hosting, crash reporting & endpoint monitoring and its award winning push notifications service, which received awards from Business of Apps, Mobile App Daily and The Tool. It provides a management console for mobile app developers, like NS804, to gain comprehensive visibility on how all client apps are performing technically and commercially.

How much does it cost to implement wearables?

Just how much does it cost to implement wearable technology with your app? We have the answer, but before we get into it, let’s look into where the wearable market is today, and how it got there.

A brief history of the future

If there’s one burgeoning technology that has “future” written all over it, it’s wearable tech. From 2010 to about 2015, there seemed to be a contraction in the evolution of different types of consumer-facing hardware – sure, there were many different devices being created, but they all generally fit into the category of “thing with a screen.”

A smartphone is a smaller tablet. A tablet is a laptop without a keyboard (unless you’re talking about Microsoft’s Surface), and a laptop is a portable desktop computer. All of these devices were made to basically function (other than inputs) in the same manner – and during this time, innovation was based around making devices smaller, and more portable.

Mp3 players were abandoned in favor of iPods. iPods were abandoned and replaced with iPhones or Android devices.

The first wearable devices, like the FitBit, were a continuation of this trend – take a screen, make it smaller, and put it on a device. There was one important distinction with this device, however – unlike smartphones, tablets, and laptops (which all accomplish the same tasks), the original FitBit only did two things – it kept track of your daily steps, and how much time you spent sleeping.

This was in 2009 – two years after the first iPhone was released, and during the time period mobile devices were focused on adding features, not purposely limiting them.

The power of wearables isn’t their ability to do everything, however – it’s their ability to do a small range of things very well. When it comes to keeping track of steps, wearing an unobtrusive device that you don’t need to interact with is a much better user experience than taking out a phone, opening an app, waiting for it to load, starting your step counter…

What’s less distracting when you go for a run – a smartphone bigger than your hand, or a device you can wear on your wrist?

So what does a watch that keeps track of your heartbeat, steps, and sleep cycle have to do with the future? It’s because this is just the beginning.

The wearable hardware market

Smartwatches and fitness trackers – the two types of devices that immediately come to mind when the subject of wearable tech is brought up.

For good reason to – the vast majority of wearable devices sold have been Apple’s AppleWatch, which sold 1 million units in one day on its initial launch in 2014. Since then, there’s been steady, incremental improvements to smartwatches, like battery life and screen resolution. When WatchOS 2.0 came out, and apps began to run natively on AppleWatches without the help of a companion smart phone, the benefit of smartwatches began to come apparent.

Wearable tech’s association with fitness isn’t unfounded either – the fitness and sport segment of the wearable market accounts for 39% of the market share. Speaking of market share – the wearable market, while new, isn’t small at all – in the U.S. alone, there were 38 million users of wearable tech by 2018.

The truly exciting aspect of these numbers is their potential – with AR-specific products already on their way to market this year, like Microsoft’s HoloLens2, the growth and innovation the wearables market will experience will most likely be staggering – in both economic growth, and impact on society. In the U.S. market, 21% of consumers have stated they are “very likely” to purchase a piece of wearable tech like a smartwatch. With AR, VR, and MxR on the horizon, this statistic will only increase.

Just take a look at this piece from TIME about the future of wearable tech – smart clothes that provide tactile feedback paired with GPS navigation, shoes that charge your other wearable devices by utilizing the energy from your movements, and GPS enabled shirt buttons that can call 911 when you’re in danger.

The wearable software market

There are three main industries focused on expanding their markets via wearable devices:

  • Fitness and Wellness
  • Healthcare
  • Defense

Both the fitness and healthcare industries are expanding into wearables for obvious reasons – defense contractors and the DOD, however, are more interested in the application of VR and AR technology.

The healthcare industry is expected to monitor the health of an estimated 5 million patients by 2023, driving $60 billion in spending on wearable tech. The Department of Defense is expected to spend nearly $11 billion on VR wearable tech by 2022 – while that’s a hefty price tag, the amount of time and money saved in training soldiers is a much higher number.

While wearable tech will most likely never fully replace smartphones and laptops, they will undoubtably enhance the experiences they provide to users. That’s why it’s important to make sure the pain point your wearable app solves is even more targeted than a standard mobile app.

Despite many pieces of wearable tech providing the hardware layer for native, standalone apps that run independently without the help of the cloud or another piece of technology, most apps that live on wearables (especially smartwatches) are supplemental additions to an already existing app.

So, how much does it cost to implement wearables?

Luckily, developing a wearable app isn’t much different than developing for iOS or Android – there’s just a few tweaks here and there. AppleWatch apps are programmed using Xcode and Swift, just like all iOS apps, and Android Wear apps are programmed using the usual suspects – JAVA and C++.

Let’s pretend that we were going to make a wearable app for Brew Trader – it’s an app that gives users the ability to find and trade craft beer with other beer enthusiasts nearby, which they can find on a map, or through searching for a specific beer.

Let’s say the wearable app we’re developing is going to be used to supplement the process of communicating with other users – currently, users are sent a notification when they have a trade request. In order to optimize the interpersonal communication between users, and lessen the time a request spends in limbo, we decided to build out a wearable app that alerts the user about any trade requests, or responses to their own requests.

What would this require?

First, we would need to build out the UI for the wearable app – the parameters of which rely on a set of factors such as the screen shape (for smartwatches: rectangular, or circular) and model of wearable device (AppleWatch vs. Android Wear). If we wanted Brew Trader to be available for both Apple’s and Android’s wearable devices, we’d need to develop native apps for both.

The interfaces of smartwatches use different inputs and design hierarchy than mobile apps, so while it’s important to keep the styles of your app similar, it’s just as important to not reuse UI elements – you’ll end up going back to re-design them anyway.

Second, we’d connect the wearable app to the mobile app using the cloud, as well as connecting the wearable app itself to the backend database Brew Trader uses to keep track of trade requests, user profiles, and user DMs.

Third, we’d use an analytics platform like Kumulos to create segmented push notifications that alert users to trade requests, responses, and DMs.

Fourth, we’d implement the new code into Brew Trader’s code base, and add the new smartwatch functionality as an update to the already existing app.

And when it comes to implementing a wearable app into an already existing app, that’s really all there is to it. Something that’s very much worth noting – if the only thing you want to achieve by implementing a wearable app into your already existent app are push notifications (and the push notifications don’t rely on data from the mobile version), there’s virtually no extra cost. All smartwatches can display the push notifications of an app, regardless if it’s a mobile or wearable app in question.

If you want to build a wearable app from the ground up, it’ll largely be the same cost and process as normally developing a mobile app. One thing we will recommend here is to directly contact the company that designs the hardware you’re planning to develop for. The wearable industry is still very plastic, so UI/UX standards aren’t set in stone, and users are still very willing to learn new ways to interact with wearable devices. As a developer, you can actually influence the development of hardware to include physical features or processing capabilities your app would need to function. This isn’t an opportunity developers have very often, and the window to do so will soon be coming to a close.

Stories from the office – subverted expectations

When I got into work this morning, right after the first two sips of coffee, I saw an inspirational video posted by one of my LinkedIn contacts. It was a challenge he sent out – to make today the most productive we can.

I had been on a productivity hot streak – I had written and posted eight blogs in seven business days, and I was ready to blast out another piece today. After seeing the LinkedIn video, I challenged myself to write two.

Unfortunately (fortunate for the tendons in my wrist, however), the hot streak came to a close.

Our CEO is a big believer in letting us carve our own path, discover the dead ends, and learn from them. There’s never been any pressure to not make a mistake – the expectation isn’t perfection, but rather the ability to pivot quickly and make the most from (and fix) said mistake.

Mistake #1

Not talking to any devs about the content wheels the content department came up with.

Believe it or not (but it’s very believable), before I started with NS804 I had about as little knowledge about app development as possible. The first smartphone I ever got was a hand-me-down iPhone 5c in 2015. I still use it – all five available gigabytes.

I’m pretty okay at learning new things, however, which is the reason I’m here. I’ve learned a lot in these past eight months, and I hadn’t hit a snag since January when I first tried to wrap my head around writing a layperson’s guide to Android development. I’ve gotten to that point where if a developer is talking about what they’re working on, I can glean about 70% of what they’re getting at – it’s like when you can understand the words of another language when it’s spoken to you, but you can’t form them in your head to respond. In my case, it usually means I spend about 70% of the conversation nodding my head up and down, because that’s the universal way to communicate “I understood what you said, I just have nothing important to add.”

So anyway, the title of the story I planned to write today was this: “How to migrate your users when updating your app.”

If you’re a developer, you most likely just blinked from the… ridiculousness of that title.

You see, I’m a writer, not a developer. I have a degree in creative advertising, not computer science or information technology. The last marketing department I worked in was for a reclaimed wood shop.

But don’t worry – our blogs and guides aren’t pulled out of a hat and vetted by someone who doesn’t have enough technical knowledge to understand when they’re on a wild goose chase (like the situation I’m currently writing about). There’s our dev’s expert review backing our content.

Mistake #2

“If you can’t find it on Google, it might be because the thing you’re looking for doesn’t actually exist.” – Future Kate, hindsight-ing past Kate.

I mean, yes, there are better resources out there, like Stack Overflow or Exchange for the answers to detailed or technical questions. But when you’re writing a piece that needs to be understood by everyone, it’s better to start with resources that were meant to be consumed by non-tech people. You know, don’t reinvent the wheel, work smarter, not harder sort of deal.

All that I could find were how-to’s on migrating your app to the cloud – all well and good, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I’m not one who gives up all that easily, however, so I kept refining my queries, digging deeper.

For a while I was a little excited by the thought of writing a blog on a subject no one had touched yet – the fabled nascent piece of content. Now, if you are a developer, you might be shaking your head at your screen right now, thinking to yourself, “yeah, you couldn’t find anything because it’s a literal non-issue.”

But, dear developer, to someone who has worked on re-branding campaigns, it was a natural, completely rational subject to tackle.

The funny part is that I totally understood you could update an app’s code base with anything. Sure, if it’s on the App Store, you need to get your update approved by Apple first, but you can switch out a build that was made in React Native with true Native, or vice versa.

Unfortunately for my productivity, I had to be bashed in the face with this information before it really sunk in.

I finally found the answer as to why I couldn’t find any pertinent info about user migration on Google – from, you guessed it, Stack Exchange:

stackexchange

“Oh,” I found myself thinking. “Duh.”

Just to be sure, I walked down the hall to our senior Swift dev’s cubicle. She was talking to our CEO, who was sitting on the comfy red couch we like to gather around, their conversation about some company growth we’ve experienced recently.

“Sorry for interrupting,” I began. “but I have a question…”

We shared a laugh, them laughing at the situation, me laughing at my own expense. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’ll never laugh again, after all.

They quickly responded with the exact reasons listed in the Stack Exchange answer, while I nodded along.

As if the universe wanted to ensure that user migration was a non-issue, our CEO reminded me of another fact – DIY app builders like Appy Pie (again, I don’t hate you Appy Pie) retain the rights to the entirety of the code of your app – so if you outgrow their services and want to make a new app, you’re starting from scratch anyway. Because the law.

Luckily, the best part about a content wheel is you have the next six months of your professional life planned out, so I told our CEO I’d just move on to the next blog topic we had strategized on.

“Write something about this,” he said.

What are the steps to creating an app?

Do you want to create an app, but have no idea where to start? That’s okay! It’s actually not that complicated, as long as you have a roadmap to guide you.

Naturally, just like any idea or business venture, the first step is:

Ideation

Whether your idea comes from inspiration from your daily life, or from finding a need due to market research, or even because your business needs an app; the strength of an idea isn’t based off of color schemes, names, or packing in trending feature sets to impress investors.

It’s all about how well your app helps solve the pain point your intended users face. It doesn’t matter what your app does, or what type of app it is – your app’s value will be judged by the solution it provides.

Gaming apps solve boredom, fitness apps help solve either lack of motivation or help keep track of goals, navigation apps help users find their way, banking apps help users answer the important questions like “Do I have enough money in my checking account for this coffee?”

You get the idea.

At this point, don’t sweat the small stuff – don’t even worry about what your app will look like. Only focus on the solution it can provide, and the most logical and practical way to facilitate that solution.

Market research

If you didn’t initially start with this step, you’ll want to do it now. You don’t even need a prototype of your app by this point – all that you need is your idea. Take that idea, and bring it to your target market. Talk with them about what they want. Go to networking events, conventions, local businesses, check out blogs, google “your idea + problems,” and most importantly, research your competition.

There’s 2 million apps on the App Store, and 2.6 million on Google Play – mathematically, it’s pretty likely someone has built an app that at least touches on the basis of your idea.

Your job isn’t to come up with an original idea – it’s coming up with the most optimal solution to that idea. If you’re worried about originality, don’t be – Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey covered every narrative trope imaginable – writers today just come up with ways to repackage those ideas.

Uber wasn’t an original idea – people had been flagging down taxis for a hundred years by the time Uber came along. When you boil Uber down to its core idea, all that it is is replacing a hand wave with an app – everything else is secondary. Instagram didn’t invent filters, it just made it easier to use filters to make your photos look better.

When you’re researching your competition, pay close attention to three things:

  • The UI/UX
  • The features it uses to solve the problem
  • The app’s ASO

Take from those three things the aspects you do like, and keep them. Replace what you don’t like with your own spin on things. Then, come up with how you can create a unique package for your branding. Remember – your idea, and even the features used to facilitate your idea, don’t need to be original. If you’re making an app that requires GPS and mapping, you’re inevitably going to implement location services during development – coding languages (and the methods for building app functionalities) were designed to be systematic and logical – not unique.

One more important aspect concerning market research – this is when you’ll want to decide what platform(s) you’ll use to build your app. Knowing which platform you’re building for will dictate every following step in the process of creating an app – and if you are building both an Android and iOS app version, you’ll need two dedicated development teams.

More about deciding which platform is best for your app:

Gather your resources

For you, this means finalizing your concept and your market research, and then finding a developer. Once you’ve settled on a developer, it’s their responsibility to determine your app’s feature set and the SDKs and APIs it utilizes to achieve your desired functionality.

Your feature set will be based upon user stories. User stories are detailed, step-by-step use cases of what a user will do during a session in your app in order to accomplish solving your pain point.

This is when it’s time to start planning out the design of your app. Some dev shops have their own UI/UX designers, some don’t. If they don’t you’ll need to do it yourself, or find a freelance designer.

App design usually begins with wireframes and color options (usually starting with the home screen and moving on from there), as well as planning out the UX of the main functionalities your app provides. Think of the inverted pyramid – start with the overarching themes, and slowly work your way down to the nitty gritty details. If your app has graphics, this is the step you’ll implement those – anything visual that your app requires should be complete before coding begins (if your app requires heavy backend infrastructure, start building that out as soon as possible).

For more information about proper app design, visit our blog on covering the topic.

From these designs, you can build out a prototype, which is actually much easier than you’d expect, via help from different prototyping applications:

Once you’ve signed off on a prototype, your development team can get down to actually building your app. A good developer will be able to take your plan and run with it from here – they’ll obviously check in to provide you with updates, and to make sure you’re happy with what they’re producing, but they won’t be asking you technical questions – that’s why you hired them, after all.

Testing

This is a step that begins after the first lines of code of your app are implemented, and after that, testing never ends. It might sound disheartening, but that’s the nature of the beast.

To efficiently test, lay out every step of your user stories (which you and your development team came up with in the previous step) in a spreadsheet, and identify the features that aren’t working properly. Take the time to make sure your app feels smooth and attentive to inputs as well. Users are likely to abandon slow apps in favor of faster ones.

Record every bug you discover while testing. Fix the issues, and test again. Repeat this step until testing is complete.

Then, it’s time for testing round two… beta testing!

Beta testing will open up your app to a small segment of the public – one that you, or a marketing agency (or your developer) will find. The purpose of a beta test is to increase the likelihood of catching bugs due to increased entropy. Beta testers, while not as detail oriented as a dedicated internal testing team, will use your app in the way they expect it to work – not the use case you have imagined. You’ll find out during this step if the two align, and iron out the kinks if they don’t.

Beta tests are important for another reason – it opens up your app to more devices and usage environments. Your app needs to work the same in a cornfield as it does on the subway. The text and font you used in your app may be legible in an office environment, but the sun’s glare might make it difficult to read. These are the kinds of details beta testing will pick up on, and improve upon.

For more information and tips about running a beta test, visit our blog covering the topic.

ASO

Before you launch your app, you’ll want to plan out your ASO. There are two fronts to your ASO campaign: user acquisition, and user retention, in that order. These can be broken down into sub-categories:

User acquisition:

  • Keywords
  • The app’s build and compatibility
  • The app’s actual page on the App Store (you can think of this as your app’s storefront)

User retention:

  • User reviews and ratings
  • Time users actually engage with the app
  • In-app purchases (if applicable)

Keywords are the bread-and-butter of any ASO campaign. The App Store’s search option functions in largely the same manner as a search engine like Google: users input a phrase or word, and the App Store displays apps based upon relevance and ranking.

Keywords are the foundation from which to build your ASO efforts, and effectively implementing them is crucial to your app’s success on the App Store. The most important steps you can take to ensure your keywords are working for you is to:

  1. Know your competition and
  2. Start with 2-3 keywords (as your campaign matures, consider utilizing up to five main keywords)

For more information about ASO, visit our blog on the topic. For more information about keyword research, check out our guide on the topic.

Launch

Congratulations! You’re almost there. The next steps are publishing your app, which will mean different things depending on what platform you want to release on. Both the App Store and Google Play have different approval processes and standards for apps to pass before they can be published, as well as publishing fees.

Apple has strict guidelines that must be met for your app to be approved – Android does not.

To publish an App on the App Store, you must pay a yearly fee of $99, and Apple takes 30% of profits from downloads (that 30% is only applied to paid app and in-app purchases). In order to publish to Google Play, you must pay a one-time fee of $25, and Android also takes 30% of profits from paid an in-app purchases.

Update

As soon as your app is launched, you’ll want to start analyzing your user data. In order to do this, you’ll need to find an analytics platform. This is a very detailed and intricate process, so for accessibility, we won’t include that information on this particular blog – but you can find all the information you need about measuring analytics here.

Based off of your analytics, user reviews, and user ratings, you’ll want to start coming up with ideas for how to enhance your app. From here, you’ll begin again at step one: ideation.

Android or iOS – which is the better MVP platform?

If you’re planning on making a MVP (minimum viable product) app, there’s a good chance your reasoning fits one or both of these criteria – time is of the essence, and/or you have a limited budget. No matter what your reasoning is, however, the benefits of a MVP app’s model of development boil down to one thing: efficiency.

So, other than the generalized buzzword of “efficiency,” what makes a successful MVP app?

  • Lower development cost
  • Shortened development time
  • Consistent, user-driven, and targeted updates
  • Reduced business development cost
  • Streamlined market release
  • Discovering and refining your revenue model through user engagement

Something to keep in mind when developing a MVP app – a MVP is not a prototype. A prototype, by definition, is a preliminary model of something; a MVP is everything (nothing more, and nothing less) that a product needs to both achieve the solution to a pain point, and simultaneously satisfy customers.

Or you can think of it this way; a prototype is what it will do. A MVP is what it does.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the main question of this blog post – which is the better platform for a MVP app: Android, or iOS? It stands to reason that if you’re developing a MVP, you want to make sure the development and release of your product are as efficient as possible – and with that comes the need to know which market will be the most efficient for your MVP to live in.

Which is the better MVP platform – Android, or iOS?

When it comes to overall development costs, iOS wins every category other than publication costs and investment in infrastructure – the latter of the two categories is determined by your extant infrastructure (if you already own Apple products, iOS will cost less, and vice versa). While both Google Play and the App Store will skim 30% of profits made from paid app and in-app purchases, the App Store’s publishing fee is annual, whereas Google Play’s is a one time deal.

But there’s much more to efficiency than just reducing costs – this is about the best platform for a MVP after all – not the cheapest.

Development time

Development time is determined by two factors: ease of programming, and ease of testing. Again, when it comes to the time it takes to develop an app, iOS wins the round. Why?

Android is mainly programmed using JAVA – a computer language that saw its release in 1996. While this does mean there are more Android programmers available to hire, it doesn’t equate to faster development. JAVA was written to build websites, and was later adopted by the Android platform as its de facto programming language. Due to this, Android is highly customizable – but leaves room for development inconsistencies that tend to pop up because there aren’t strict standards.

iOS apps, on the other hand, are written with Swift. Swift was made specifically for the development of apps, as well as being designed to run on Apple products only. While this does limit apps built using Swift to devices that start with the letter “i,” it does ensure a much more stable development environment. With Swift, there’s usually a right way and a wrong way to implement a functionality – meaning there’s a lot less time spent trying out different iterations of code.

The same is also true for the time it takes to successfully test your app – again, iOS comes out ahead of Android. This is for two reasons: it is simpler to produce robust code with Swift, and there are less iOS devices than Android devices (this is the main reason for the discrepancy in testing time between the two platforms).

Between the currently used iPhone, iPad, and even Apple Watch and TV, there are about ten iOS devices to test your app on (and that’s if it’s used on their entire range of products). To achieve the same level of quality assurance for an Android app, you’d have to test on 24,000 different devices.

With easier to write and more robust code, paired with a smaller number of available devices to test on, iOS apps will almost invariably take less time to develop than Android.

User engagement

While user engagement is an important metric for any app, when it comes to the development of a MVP, high quality user engagement is essential to your success. This is because MVP apps are basically a shortened version of classic app lifecycle management – rather than building out every feature, testing, and then releasing, a MVPs necessary features are implemented, then the bare bones (minimal, but still very much functional) app is sent to market. After users begin using the app and asking for extra features, the development team then works to implement the requested additions to the app.

It makes sense as to why this method of development is so cost effective and efficient – rather than guessing what features your intended audience will expect from your app, you build the main idea, and give your users the power to fill in the cracks. This saves money and time on two different fronts: you don’t waste resources implementing unwanted features, and you spend less time and money conducting market research. Your users act as both your focus group and your test bed.

The caveat here is that in order for that to happen, your user base must be highly engaged with your app – much more so than the average app user. And this is where, hands down, iOS is the stand-out platform:

  • iOS users engage apps for nearly twice as long as their Android counterparts
  • iOS apps have a higher retention rate than Android apps
  • iOS users download more purchasable apps than Android users and spend more money on in-app purchases:

  • Gaming app average revenue per user: $1.99 (iOS) versus $1.56 (Android)
  • Shopping app average revenue per user: $19.64 (iOS) versus $11.49 (Android)
  • Travel app average revenue per user: $32.29 (iOS) versus $20.47 (Android)

It’s metrics like these that put iOS ahead of Android for the best MVP platform. Without high quality, consistent user engagement (as well as two-way communication between your development team and your users), your MVP will face a much longer road to achieving your goals. This isn’t to say MVP apps don’t work on Android, just rather that iOS lends itself better to MVP development.

We hope you’ve found this guide useful. If you’d like more information about deciding between Android or iOS, check out our blogs about how to decided which platform is best for your app, and which platform costs more to develop for.

Improving inventory and supply chain management with an internal business app

Inventory management and supply chain management aren’t the flashiest of a company’s operations, nor do they seem like their efficiency could be improved by an app. But just as inventory and supply chain management are crucial to the success of a small, medium, or large business, so to are these core operations the perfect area for innovation – facilitated by an internal business app.

Ever had to search for a barcode scanner? Ever had to run off the floor to check inventory levels on a desktop computer? Is your team constantly playing catch-up at the end of the week to figure out just exactly how much of a product is left in your inventory?

An internal business app can solve these supply problems, and much more. Let’s go over how.

Common inventory management problems

What are the most common challenges inventory managers face in today’s market?

  1. Low product turnover
  2. Excess inventory
  3. Failure to keep track of stock
  4. Poor service levels
  5. Difficult identifying demand patterns
  6. Lack of visibility

Many of these challenges are amplified by the multi-channel marketplace, and the disruption of buying patterns and behaviors fueled by mobile shoppers. While these changes of scale and expected turn-around times can potentially dramatically increase a business’ profits, the rapid changes of today’s market can be difficult to keep up with, or even keep track of. It’s somewhat ironic that the mobile devices that brought about these changes are also the answer to the problems they created.

Shoppers are more efficient now than ever before – it’s time for the companies that supply the products to catch up. If a customer can see how many of a certain product remain in Amazon’s inventory, why can’t you?

You really don’t have to be Amazon to achieve that level of efficiency and inter-connectedness.

Low product turnover

Let’s face it – not everyone has the access to the amount of warehouse space that Amazon can brag about – which means warehouse space is a precious commodity, especially in a fast-paced, on-demand economy. If you’re not properly keeping track of demand, you run the risk of either running out of stock, or wasting space housing a product with little demand that could be used to hold a more popular product.

An internal business app can help here – by integrating your mobile app with your customer facing website and POS system, as well as your own internal database, every transaction is immediately tracked and reported on all of your systems. This gives multiple departments the ability to analyze customer purchasing trends more effectively and in real time – and when enhanced with analytical tracking capabilities, your system can warn you about poorly performing (or over-performing) products before they cause a speed bump in your operations.

Excess inventory

Ever order too much product? We don’t even have a warehouse, and we’re constantly dealing with the problem of finding space for all the extra water cooler refill jugs. It seems like we’re constantly bouncing between two extremes – either at the verge of an inter-office drought, or it’s monsoon season (albeit in the form of large bottle of water).

An internal app helps mitigate the risk of ordering too much product – analytics are very good at recognizing trends that wouldn’t normally be noticed. They can also even help warehouse managers find extra or unused space that could be used to store excess product.

Failure to keep track of stock

It may be a meme by this point, but modern problems do require modern solutions. With the growth of the on-demand economy, keeping track of stock with manual checks isn’t time efficient, nor as reliable as it needs to be to stay on top of fluctuating product demand.

This is a problem that’s compounded by the fact that many sales happen out in the field. Just because it’s called an internal business app doesn’t mean it’s limited to the four walls of your warehouse, showroom, or sales floor. Your sales people out connecting with and selling to clients can update your operations and inventory manager with sales they’ve made in real time.

Accounting errors add to costs – an internal app can cross-reference and compare numbers from all of your departments in real time, so when your crews are counting, you can be sure the numbers they come up with are correct.

Poor service levels

Every business knows customer satisfaction is the number one key to success, and failure to meet customers’ expectations will spell the doom of any company. Knowledge is power – and in this case, knowledgable employees means happy customers.

Internal business apps means everyone is on the same page – from your head of operations to your warehouse associates. Delivery and lead times vary depending on the product in question, and delays can lead to dissatisfied customers. An app helps optimize your inventory management operations so you don’t have to worry about a product showing up a day after it was scheduled to arrive.

Difficulty identifying demand patterns

Keeping track of demand can be made extremely difficult by continuously growing and morphing product portfolios. Product uncertainty is a very real problem these days, especially when some products have short lifecycles.

In order to stay on top of these ever-changing product portfolios, you need to use analytics tools. With an app, you can keep these tools in the warehouse rather than an office, therefore bringing more efficiency to your operations.

Lack of visibility

With a global market, accurate supply chain management is crucial to your success. An internal business app can help with that facet of your business’s operations as well. Let’s look into how.

Common supply chain management problems

Getting the right product to the right place at the right time is – to put it mildly – complicated.

Cost control

The most successful method for reducing operating costs is to make those operations more efficient. Shaving a second here or there can have a huge and lasting impact on your overall expenses.

We’ve used it as an example before, but it’s a well-used example for a reason: consider the decision of UPS to not make left turns; they invested in a software that mapped the United States (as well as most of the world), in order to nearly eradicate left turns from their parcel delivery truck routes. This decision ended up saving the company over 20 million gallons of fuel every year – those seconds it takes to make a left turn add up – and in the same manner as UPS, shaving off seconds from your warehouse operations can save your business a significant amount of capital.

When your entire team are receiving real time updates to incoming and outgoing product deliveries, and collectively can work together to achieve the same goal faster – they are no longer forced to carry a clipboard around to manually keep track of products.

With rising fuel, energy, and freight costs, compounded by a much larger International customer base, having a system that can plan efficient routes is essential to cutting expenditures.

Labor rates are also on the rise (which is a good thing!) – but that means every second spent keeping track of inventory is precious – and those seconds could be better utilized in other areas of the warehouse. With an internal business app, your employees have more time to do what they were hired to do, rather than keep track of shipments and product numbers.

Supplier and partner relationship management

Miscommunication can be a major roadblock to efficient operations. In order for your supply chain to effectively get a product from point A to point B to point C, everyone in every step of the process needs to adhere to mutually agreed standards of operations. This is especially important when assessing your operations in order to understand current performance levels, as well as finding room for improvement in your operations.

When every employee is in the know, and literally on the same page, this standard is simple to stick to. While this can be achieved through a mixture of communication methods, such as web portals, cloud storage, and email, having more than one form of communication results in wasted time and effort on everyone’s parts.

An internal app keeps all communication and analysis in the same place.

Finding talent

Like we stated at the beginning of this blog, inventory and supply chain management aren’t the flashiest of business operations. This is a big reason many employers find it hard to find and identify interested and qualified talent.

An internal app helps solve this issue via two different fronts: making the job more attractive, and lowering the acceptable knowledge threshold.

Any supply chain manager worth their salt needs an extensive understanding of every facet of your supply chain. With an internal inventory and supply chain management app, the burden of knowledge is reduced because it’s so much simpler to keep track of data – analytics can identify demand patterns before even seasoned supply chain managers would, and products are automatically tracked and updated throughout every system simultaneously.

This also helps to make positions more attractive. 70% of the workforce in the U.S. is disengaged – and one of the major reasons for this is lack of direction. An internal business app gives new employees the direction and knowledge they want, therefore increasing your employee retention and acquisition.

Apps aren’t just for consumers

We hope this blog gave you some ideas as to how an internal business app can improve your inventory and supply chain management. If so, keep an eye out for more ideas on how your business can improve its efficiency and bottom line with an internal business app!

How much does it cost to implement push notifications? – with Kumulos

Push notifications are a fantastic and proven strategy used to increase both user engagement and user retention – but are they worth the cost?

The short answer: most of the time. But let’s get into the reasons why.

The cost of implementing push notifications

Let’s start with the lowest cost option first – sending out push notifications on your own. In order to do this (at least for iOS), you’ll need to:

  1. Sign up for an Apple Developer Program Membership ($99)
  2. Set up a push notification certificate for your app ID (which you’ll get when you sign up for an ADPM)
  3. Download a push notification app from the App Store
  4. Set up a server from which to send push notifications to your users’ devices (costs for servers vary, and largely depend on your data loads)
  5. Use callbacks in the app to receive and handle push notifications

You should note that for iOS users to receive your push notifications, they must opt-in. For Android, it’s the opposite – users are automatically set up to receive push notifications when they download an app. Because of this, Android apps see a much higher opt-in rate than iOS – 91% compared to 43%.

Keep in mind, however, that iOS users tend to engage with apps more than Android users do. In addition to this, users who opt-in to push notifications engage with apps 88% more than those who don’t.

Also remember that just because you’re sending out push notifications yourself doesn’t mean that it’s free – if you’re the CEO of your company, you’re using your own time. If an employee of yours is sending them out, they’re using their own time – and time is money.

Sending a push notification, no matter if you’re supplying the backend infrastructure, is never truly free of cost. There’s also one glaring issue with sending out push notifications yourself – you lack the ability to study your push notification analytics.

Implementing push notifications through an analytics platform

If you’re invested in making a successful app, you’re most likely going to use an analytics platform in order to, well, analyze how users engage with your app. If you use these types of services, they might just have their own push notification service.

While this does cost more than sending out the push notifications on your own, successfully running an app without the support of an analytics platform is nigh impossible. So if you’re already utilizing a service like this, you might as well make the most of it.

There are a lot of analytics platforms, but we prefer Kumulos. A major reason for this is because through their platform, you can schedule, send out, and analyze your push notifications – as well as create segmented campaigns.

Bringing your analytical capabilities and your push notification campaigns together has an extra bonus – you’re able to study patterns of user behavior (like the day of the week, or hour of the day) that a user is most likely to open up your app. If they didn’t open up your app at their usual time yesterday, send them a push notification with a message that serves as a gentle reminder for them to engage with your app.

Now, we’ve stated this before, but we’ll say it again: it’s incredibly important to keep one fact in mind when sending out a push notification – you are interrupting your users’ daily lives. It’s the digital version of being handed a flier while you walk down the sidewalk – or being asked to write down your signature for a cause.

That’s why there are four key factors behind successful push notifications:

  1. Targeted
  2. Immediately beneficial to your users
  3. Attention-grabbing
  4. Billboard rule (less than ten words, ideally 7)

If your push notifications fall into the realm of “sales-y,” you actually run the risk of decreasing your app’s user engagement, and increase the chances of users abandoning your app in favor of one that doesn’t annoy them.

Bob Lawson, Founder, Kumulos says, “We 100% agree that push notifications are worth it, when done correctly. It’s far less expensive to retain existing app users than work on acquiring additional users. Having the ability to analyze the results of push notification campaigns is key to driving successful outcomes for any app.”

If you’re using a platform like Kumulos to both analyze user behavior and send out push notifications, you’re more likely to find the sweet spot between grabbing your users’ attention (for their own benefit), and interrupting them (for the benefit of your metrics). Users can easily tell which category your message falls into – and they’ll react accordingly.

This is why, even though it costs more (at least initially) to subscribe to an analytics platform with push notifications capabilities, it’s ultimately more economical to do so than going the “free” route.

Targeting the needs of your users, and providing them with a pertinent CTA is how you increase your user engagement. Shouting into the void, or asking your users to do something for your app while providing no benefit in return is how you lose users.

Here’s an example of a bad push notification:

Hi! This is _______! We’d love it if you could review and rate ______, the app you love, in the app store! Here’s a link to share us on social media: [link]

And here’s an example of a push notification that accomplishes the same thing, but in a way that’s beneficial for both your app and your users:

One month free for rating ______: [Link]

Now, that might seem like a low effort sales pitch, but what’s less of an interruption? “Here’s the thing,” versus “Hi! Here’s this great thing we’d like you to know about! If you want to act upon this thing, visit here!”

The second example also provides users with an immediate benefit: “one month free.” Don’t bury the lead.

There are other strategies for getting the most from push notifications, namely Proximity Marketing. If you’d like to learn more about that, check out our guest blog from Kumulos’ Caroline McClelland.

The last thing we want to cover is that sometimes push notifications aren’t the best way to go about increasing your user engagement and retention. Like anything in this world, context is key to success.

Understand how your users’ interact with your app, and if that interaction could receive benefit from push notifications. If there’s no benefit they could provide your app, don’t use them.

So, how much do push notifications cost?

As much as you want them to. Just remember; the more investment you put into analyzing your users’ needs and usage patterns, the more targeted (and segmented) of a push notification campaign you can make – which in turn results in better responses to your push notifications.

Don’t be the seedy car sales representative. Be the friend who wants their friend group to know about the cool thing.