Profile - How We Launched a Mobile App

Simplicity Was The Ultimate Design Goal

Bill O'SheaWhen Motivators Inc. (asi/277780) introduced its mobile app in April 2010, the company saw its benefits almost immediately. For example, by October of that year, the distributor’s Web traffic had increased by 87%. “Because we’re an online business, it’s important to stay at the forefront of technology,” says Bill O’Shea, eCommerce manager at Motivators. “Creating a mobile app helped us to do so.”

Of course, launching an app takes planning and a willingness to adapt. It took Motivators six months to research, design and test its app before its release. A few more months passed before Motivators offered an update to the app – a major upgrade that allows people to buy promotional products right from their mobile devices. The latest version of the app connects customers to Motivators’ mobile site, which features an online cart. “Our app makes the shopping process even easier for our customers,” O’Shea says.

Q: Why did Motivators develop a mobile app?
A: We realized that many of our customers browse Motivators.com from their smartphones and other mobile devices. While we do have a mobile site, people tend to look for an app first. Our app also helps to promote the Motivators brand and the promotional products industry as a whole.

Q: What steps did Motivators take to create its mobile app?
A: When it came time to develop the Motivators app, we took a look at the mobile apps we admire and use frequently. We knew we wanted a clean and simple interface that would be easy to navigate. Motivators’ IT department worked with a design team to complete the coding. The team was helpful in making sure the app would perform to our standards and the standards of our customers. It was tested internally until we were satisfied with the outcome.

Q: What was the hardest part of the development?
A: The greatest challenge for us was making sure we displayed all the necessary information regarding the customization of each product. Selling promotional products via a mobile app is very different than selling on the Web.

Q: What are some of the app’s features?
A: First, there’s an alphabetical listing of all product categories, as well as a sampling of our best-selling items. The product information includes an ID, description and available price for each item. Plus, there’s a push-to-e-mail feature that gives customers the ability to e-mail a product to someone who can then view it on Motivators.com. Finally, the app allows easy access to important company contact information, like phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses and Twitter feeds.

Q: How has Motivators marketed the app?
A: We’ve promoted the app via social media, specifically on YouTube. Our Motivators app commercial, which has been viewed more than 2,000 times, demonstrates exactly how to use the app and where to download it. We’ve also created a “brand in a box” – a self-promotion kit that was sent to 1,000 customers. The box, which included our catalog, a pocket-sized notebook and sticky notes, was imprinted with an ad for our app. The message on the package was: “Yep, there’s an app for that.” The app has been featured in our e-mail newsletter and catalogs, too.

Q: How is Motivators measuring the success of the app?
A: We’ve measured its success by tracking downloads. We also keep an eye on how many orders come from the app.

Q: How can an industry company decide if creating a mobile app is worth it?
A: It’s important to know your audience. Talk to your customers. If they do most of their shopping via telephone, an app might not be for you. On the other hand, if they’re using their smartphones or tablets to visit your website, creating an app might make sense for your business. Research where your sales are coming from, and go from there.