Dmitriy N. Full-Stack Developer

How to create a strategy for a mobile app

A strategy is an intentional plan with priorities that can lead you to your goal. It helps answer the questions:

- What outcome do you want and what are you aiming at?

- Why are you creating a particular product?

- What is the best way to achieve your goals?

To ensure that the developed app does not turn out to be a waste of time and your budget, it is important to consider all the information you receive not only before starting development or during testing, but also during further promotion of the mobile app.

Step 1: Get Started

Strategy is a job that requires collecting a lot of data.

Here are a few items to start with:

Market analysis.

What do users want, what do they need, and where can you find points of growth? If you start with external analysis, you can bypass your own misconceptions and find new opportunities. Of course, this method is better coupled with your insider knowledge and data. Follow your industry news, interview your customers. Study your competitors to get a complete picture of the market. Think about how your app differs from your competitors in the market and what user problems it solves.

Interview users.

Talk to your target audience and users. Ask about their lifestyles, problems, jobs, and needs using empathy and intuition.

Analyze data.

Find trends and patterns in metrics by user type, country, platform and industry. Spell out the expected outcome in terms of the amount of effort a project might require. This could be something other than revenue or engagement: e.g. customer satisfaction (short-term perspective), speed of development, etc.

Step 2: Define the criteria for success.

What is success and how do you measure it? Many people express it in increased revenue or audience engagement. These metrics are important, but not the goal. Success criteria should take both a long-term and short-term perspective and reflect a clear vision for product development.

For example, if you only have high user engagement in your success metrics, you may be missing out on other opportunities, so strive for comprehensive strategies.

Answer yourself the following questions to avoid being short-sighted in terms of goals:

- What is your mission? Why is it important and how do you broadcast the mission through the app? Try saying out loud the phrase, "What would the world be like if came true?"

- What basic human needs are you fulfilling?

- What measures of success can you calculate in 6 months, 3 years? Different time periods will help answer different questions.

Step 3: Select ideas.

When you have a clear sense of purpose and the right information, it's time to form your own vision and strategy. You may have a lot of good ideas, but it's not enough to just spread them out on a timeline - you can't build a long-term plan from that.

Here are some common mistakes when forming a strategy:

Doing only what the users/team/leaders ask you to do.

This is the safe way: it helps to easily create a roadmap and makes everyone happy at once, but only in the short term. In most cases, people will ask for incremental improvements rather than sudden leaps, but this is a dangerous strategy: feedback from such users will be short-sighted and unlikely to lead you to your goal. Don't ignore this source of feedback, but know that it relates more to customer retention factors than to strategic change.

One big genius idea.

Sometimes we fall so in love with an idea that we want to go all in, ignoring the risks. This strategy can be used if the company is small and has yet to gain a foothold in the market. For example, deciding to go into VR technology would be the wrong strategy in most cases because it involves a lot of risk without the right amount of data and testing - it's not a smart risk.

Change everything at once.

This is often due to technical debt and the need to clean up a large code base. Product and code base changes are necessary, but doing everything at once without clear goals and results is dangerous and time-consuming. A new design can lead to user and team dissatisfaction, and in the long run change exactly nothing.

Step 4: Visualize your strategy.

Presentations and other documents to summarize and publish the product strategy provide clarity and specificity without distracting visuals. A strategy document typically includes 2 to 6 pages with the following sections:

- Key stakeholders: who will implement the strategy.

- Context: results of research and analysis, user interviews, and other data that you relied on to write the strategy.

- Plan: what actions it includes, and why you chose them.

- Metrics for measuring results: short-term and long-term indicators of success.

- Key risks and mitigation: is the company prepared for these risks and can they be controlled?

- Collaboration: what help you will need from other teams and partners.

- Evidence that your strategy will be successful.

An analytics-driven and clearly articulated mobile app marketing strategy is the foundation of a successful product. Think about strategic positioning, learn all about your target audience, do competitive analysis, and determine performance metrics.

Of course, real life is much more complicated and includes many subtleties with limitations, and it can also be difficult to find a balance between the ambitious, the interesting and the achievable. You can doubt endlessly and read a bunch of strategy books, but it's enough just to start to strategize and implement the best ideas.


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