What To Consider When Building A Business Mobile App In Kenya
The latest numbers suggest that there are close to 3.5 million apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. This is a massive number of mobile apps based on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS ecosystems – often referred to as the duopoly, now that it seems that every other mobile operating is destined to die out over the next few years. Given that there are so many mobile apps in the world, it would appear that only a relatively small number of them are actually achieving any meaningful traction. The numbers do not lie.
However, even in light of all of the above factors, we are particularly enthused that there has never been a better time for businesses in Kenya to consider building their own mobile apps for their business-to-business and business-to-consumer market segments. In particular, it would appear that the financial services sector in Kenya has taken the lead with a myriad of mobile banking, investments, on-demand loans and insurance mobile apps that serve to extend their reach to an ever increasing number of smartphone wielding customers.
The business case for local mobile apps in Kenya is most recently backed by Safaricom’s financial results from May 2016 where they confirmed that 7.8 million of their users are on smartphones – a growth of over 128% in a year. This means that over 30% of Safaricom’s 25.16 million subscribers are on smartphones. Correspondingly, mobile data usage grew by 77% whilst data costs dropped by 33% over the past year. In addition, the latest numbers from Facebook show that 5.3 million of their 5.5 million users in Kenya do so via mobile devices and of those 3.8 million are on Android mobile devices. In a nutshell, these numbers make a compelling case that mobile apps finally(?) make business sense in Kenya.
There are many reasons why mobile apps do matter today on a global basis given that consumer behaviour has largely gone mobile-first on so many levels. However, even on mobile devices, consumers are increasingly using mobile apps and completely bypassing the mobile web in the process. This shift is accelerating in Kenya as well and the rest of Africa given that the majority of Internet consumption on the continent happens on a mobile-only basis. Indeed, I am often amazed at how many people use WhatsApp at the expense of traditional SMS these days in Kenya.
For businesses in Kenya contemplating going the mobile app route, here are some of the key considerations that can help make a mobile app initiative successful:
- Focus on Android Mobile Apps – The majority of smartphones in use in Kenya are running on Google’s Android mobile ecosystem. This is due to the fact that that these are the most inexpensive and most widely used smartphones in Kenya. However, if your mobile app has a potential to grow massively beyond Kenya in markets like Asia, Europe and North America, it makes sense to all create versions for Apple iOS.
- Aim for a refined Mobile App user experience – Mobile app user experience or UX for short can make or break your mobile app. In a nutshell, UX sits at the convergence of business, technology and design approaches which ensures a mobile app that is aesthetically beautiful, user-friendly, technologically refined and business-driven. A good mobile app UX can be the backbone of mobile app success.
- Mobile Apps MUST solve a business or customer problem – Mobile apps should not be built for reasons that amount to vanity. They should actually solve fundamental business or customer problems that will ultimately result in better service delivery, leading to increased revenue and customer loyalty over the long-term. Mobile apps that fail to deliver a solid value proposition from this perspective will be doomed to failure.
- Mobile App discovery is a massive challenge – Getting your mobile app found when there are over 3 million mobile apps on both the App Store and Google Play is daunting. Therefore, it’s essential to leverage mobile app advertising on popular mobile advertising platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google to get your mobile app seen and installed. In addition, mobile app advertising also supports re-engagement ads that encourage users of installed mobile apps to open them through ‘deep-linking’.
- Mobile app messaging and re-engagement is key – Getting a mobile app installed is just the first step since many mobile apps go unused after being installed. Therefore, using features like mobile app notifications and in-app messaging go a long way to re-engage mobile app users from time to time so that hopefully your mobile app can be used on a regular basis and also avoid it being uninstalled.
- Social sharing can help drive awareness – Ensure that your mobile app has social sharing features so that users who have installed it can also share it via their social media profiles that can result in additional installations from their social connections.