Significantly Things to Consider While Developing a Mobile App

With the growing functionality of smartphones, mobile apps have become an essential part of our lives. From banking to online shopping; We use them for almost everything. They provide faster processing than web browsing. Some of the most popular brands have already come up with their own applications that work flawlessly on smartphones and tablets.

Being a business owner, you really need to launch an amazing mobile app that can help you grow your business. A professionally designed application will provide your customers with the better shopping experience. It will also reinforce your newly launched brand while building loyalty with users.

A mobile app does not only help business owners but also helps users simplifying multiple time-consuming tasks. Let's have a look at some of the advantages of having a mobile app:

Benefits for Business Owners

• Build loyalty

• Boost sell-through

• Strengthen your brand

• Increase your visibility

• Improve your accessibility

• Help you generate repeat business

• Connect you with on-the-go consumers

• Build strong relationship with customers

• Increase exposure on smartphones and tablets

• Improve your social media marketing strategies

Benefits for Users

• Faster checkout process

• Integrated QR Code Scanner

• Easier appointment scheduling

• Loan calculators with faster navigation

• Easy to get the Directions of any location

• Easy access to a large number of products

• Instant notifications of special offers, discounts & events

Thus, mobile application is beneficial for both business owners and customers. It connects users to the products or services they most commonly need. Moreover, it provides business owners with an opportunity to connect better with consumers. If you are looking forward to come up with a mobile app, you need do consider several significant things; Some of them are listed below:

Come up with an Innovative Idea

There are several aspects that you need to consider before starting the development process. Firstly, you should identify the actual need of the application. Do not forget that your mobile app must be innovative and capable of standing out in the highly competitive market.

Understand your target users

Before developing an app, it's necessary to understand your target users. You really need to consider the behavior of your users such as their goals, requirements, and the technologies that use the most. Every platform is different, and every customer has different needs. For instance, an individual typically uses an e-wallet to pay a bill, but he / she may use the bank's specific application to find the ATM.

The platform matters

When it comes to choosing a platform, you basically have three options ie iOS, Android, & Windows. You can choose the one according to your target users. However, it's better to come up with an app that can work on all these platforms. You can even go with the "Cross Platform" that will help you build a single application for multiple platforms. This important decision will not only impact the user experience but also affect the adaptability of the app for different users.

Know what is out there

You must spend some time analyzing competitors' apps. Each application has some kind of unique features and functionalities. Examining the most popular applications will help you get some new ideas. You should use different mobile platform devices in the exploration process.

With in-depth research, proper planning, and correct strategies, you can come up with a successful mobile app. Moreover, choose a reliable app development company who offers the best development & designing services.

Complete Guide to Facebook Marketing

Unless you've been living on another planet, you would be aware of the popularity and influence of Facebook today.

Just a few short years ago, you had to encourage all your family and friends to join this social networking website (just after others convinced you to join). Nowadays, it's rare to find someone who has not gotten a Facebook account.

At last count, there were over 350 million users on Facebook and this number is continuing to grow. It overtook MySpace as the number 1 social networking website on the planet last year and is just behind Google when it comes to online traffic. You are then able to understand how important Facebook marketing has become for all websites.

It's Not A Pitch Zone

The most important thing to remember about social media is that it is not a place to blatantly and endlessly pitch your product or service. If you do this, then you will not get any favors from social media users and will get poorly ignored and even bad reviews.

What social media is used for is building relationships with potential clients. There are several ways you can go about doing this:

– you can post helpful information (links) where you help them solve a problem
– you can personally chat with them and assist them you can create content addressing the needs of users and posting it

The bottom line is that you want to be seen as genuine and helpful. This way, word can get out that you're the real deal and before you know it, people will become interested in what you have to offer in terms of products and services.

Of course, the things you share on social networking sites such as Facebook should not be the nitty gritty stuff that you have to offer. You should share helpful information in the form of teasers that will interest people enough to ask and wonder if there's more. Offering free stuff is great for getting attention too.

How To Market On Facebook

The great thing about Facebook is that from the outset, it has encouraged all users to use the website as a means of sharing information and marketing whatever they please. As a result, it has developed many ways for users to do this. You do not have to use every single one of them but a combination of them can only enhance your Facebook marketing.

Pages

This is probably the marketing tool out there on Facebook. On its website Facebook describes Pages as "a public profile that enables you to share your business and products with Facebook users." It is specifically designed for promoting a business and everything it has to offer. People can then become a fan of your page and when they do this, they let their friends know that they've become a fan of your page via their News Feed. The potential for your Page to gain a lot of popularity in a small period of time is great.

Of course, it all depends on the content you put out there for people to use. You need to give them a reason to become a fan of your Page and a reason for them to keep being one.

Events

This allows to create events to be held at a certain date and time. Depending on what type of business you are, you can create one to be held locally or internationally. It can be any one of the following:

– seminar – it should be introductory and free but you could promote a paid one too
– webinar – an online seminar and where anyone worldwide can join
– product / service launch – you may be about to launch a product or service and this is a way to gain attention

The best part about creating an event on Facebook is that it can go viral and before you know it people will be attending your event in droves.

Advertising

Finally, about a year ago, Facebook introduced an advertising service where people can put ads promoting their website or their Facebook Page and they pay per click (PPC) or impression (CPM). It works in a similar way to Google AdWords.

The best thing is that you can target your ads based on both geographical locations and social actions. For example, if you were a wedding photographer and wanted to promote your services, your ads can be set up to appear only to females between the ages of 24 and 30 and who relationship statuses indicate they are engaged.

It must be noted, however, that Facebook Advertising is still in beta mode which only means that it will only improve in the near future.

Embrace Facebook

If you wanted to market your website online, you would be absolutely nuts not to use Facebook marketing as one of your key strategies. Just be careful not to get talked up in it too much because it can become a very time consuming activity.

Lessons Learned From An E-Commerce Adventure

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; and even more important to learn from your mistakes.

That is what I keep telling myself after having invested the time and cash equivalent to a Harvard MBA in an e-commerce start-up that has stalled and is winding down. Not a happy prospect in light of all the media pre-occupation with e-commerce success stories and the young millionaires watching their IPOs rocket into cyberspace. But the headlines ignore the more frequent stories of new e-commerce businesses that do not hit the stock market jackpot. Many of them either settle into a low-key niche or exhaust their resources and fold.

This is the story of an Internet venture that did not make the headlines, but offers some useful insights for entrepreneurs evaluating their own initiatives. The lessons learned are applicable to your own new venture or to an investment in someone else’s.

In mid-1998 we launched a new company called nxtNet (www.nxtnet.com) with the slogan … “taking you to the next level on the Internet”.

My partner and I both had prior successful entrepreneurial experience in computer products and wanted to start a new venture together. We decided to develop a business that would catch the next wave of e-commerce services for mid-sized companies seeking to do business on the Internet. After long discussions, searches for a unique service offering, and many draft business plans, we developed a market strategy and then chose Intershop Communications as our software development platform. This product had the advantages of being suitable for single or multiple online storefronts, and offered a flexible, economic and comprehensive solution. We committed to the product, staffing, facilities and equipment to start training and development immediately. The two of us provided the time and cash required to get started.

By October 1998, we had an initial product with application as an online storefront for an associated computer business. At the same time, we realized that the application had wide appeal to other computer dealers and could be sold as a multi-user database service and e-commerce resource. We had developed a consolidated catalogue of 85,000 computer products from multiple distributor product databases that allowed rapid search and comparison for product information, pricing, and current sources. Users could access the catalogue from the Internet and find a product by manufacturer, category, and part number, key word or price range and immediately see the alternate sources and prices with links to more technical information, preferred dealer pricing and actual stock levels. Additional features allowed the catalogue to be customized so that any computer reseller could present the database as his own online storefront. This option offered all the search and product information features to his customers, but showed only retail pricing and enabled the online ordering process.

The product offering quickly received positive feedback and strong indications of support from all the participants – resellers, distributors, and manufacturers. It was a comprehensive, powerful, and effective tool for buying and selling at all levels within the Canadian computer distribution channel. Resellers recognized the value in an online resource to save time and effort. Distributors and manufacturers saw the opportunity to promote their products, and major publishers in the industry wanted to offer complementary online services to their subscribers and advertisers. How could we fail with all this enthusiasm and support?

While the potential for success clearly existed, everybody had the same questions and reservations – “Who is there now?” “How many are using it?” and “I don’t want to pay until it’s bigger”.

Reasonable objections we thought, so we added features and content for free. We promoted the product with free trials and low cost subscriptions for reseller access. Then we coaxed, persuaded, sold hard, and made deals. The “contra” became the standard for obtaining press coverage, free ads, mailing lists and promotion in exchange for free participation and future consideration. Activity on the Web site and catalogue grew to 3000 visitors per month with over 800 subscribers and the distributor list increased from three to twelve.

But revenue remained near zero as most reseller subscribers declined to pay for the service. Reasons were “it should be free – let the advertisers pay”, “I don’t use it enough”, “there are lower cost options”, or “we built our own solution”. The audience did not grow fast enough even after we offered it for free, to satisfy the advertisers and content providers. Without persistent and conspicuous sales and marketing efforts, all the participants quickly lost interest. Meanwhile the costs of database maintenance, ongoing development, site hosting, Internet access, sales, marketing, and administration were increasing.

Clearly the old entrepreneurial model of controlling costs and growing revenue was not going to apply. We had to realign our profile to show how zero revenue and high initial costs could still lead to significant investment returns like other well-known Internet ventures. So from early 1999 we started an aggressive search for financing, estimating our requirements at $500,000 to $1,500,000 over the next two years before achieving positive cash flow. More business plans, spreadsheets, and glossy presentations to demonstrate future valuations up to $20 million, even $40 million.

We knocked on many doors, from banks to government agencies, from angel investors to venture capital, from stock promoters to business consultants, and again received lots of encouragement, but no financing. So the founding partners were faced with a continuing cash drain, no relief in sight, and the limits of their own resources rapidly approaching. It was time to put the project on hold. Strategic partners or investors might still be developed to proceed with the project, but the ongoing expenditures were stopped in late 1999.

So what are the lessons learned? We already knew that nothing ventured, nothing gained. We now also knew that big successes in the new economy require big investments. Entrepreneurs may start small, but large investments will be required from new sources to achieve significant success. And no one will put significant money into a venture unless it is the only remaining requirement.

The concept, product, development, marketing and staffing all have to be in place before an investor will provide the final ingredient – his cash. Exceptions are likely only where the management team has already succeeded in the same arena, or the investor himself can deliver the missing elements, such as customers or management skills. No investor is going to take the chance that the entrepreneur with a good concept or product will also be able to deliver the required management and marketing skills to succeed, after he has the cash.

Next time we will know better. And there are side benefits from this expensive learning experience. I can now admit that with the knowledge gained through our association with Intershop Communications, I was confident enough to make an investment in their stock on the German Neue Markt at 65 Euros last year. It went over 400 Euros last month and is still rising with their rapid growth and the prospect of a NASDAQ listing this year. Almost enough to recover my investment in nxtNet.

So the most important lesson is that education in the new economy is essential, and not free, but it can lead to success outside the original plan. Learn, be aware, and be aggressively opportunistic.

Real Estate SEO for Beginners

The world of real estate is going through dramatic change and I don’t mean the current market upheavals caused by the change from a Seller’s market to a Buyer’s market.

Independent of price level there will always be buying and selling of homes going on. But the way people search for and find homes is in the middle of a dramatic change. The Internet is the great equalizer but also the great differentiator.

People searching online are not aware of your achievements, everybody is equal at first. If your website does not offer the design and services people appreciate they will not stay long enough to find out. This is where you can differentiate yourself.

But design and functionality are a secondary issue to the problem of how to get found in the first place. Use the analogy of websites being online business cards. New business cards are deposited not at the top of the pile but at the very bottom. Customers are picking up business cards from the top of the pile. SEO or search engine optimization deals with efforts to move ones business cards further up the pile so that customers can find one’s site through popular search engines.

So you have a new website. So you basically just had your business cards printed but nobody knows how to find them. Or even more dramatic you don’t even know if somebody is picking up your business cards and you don’t know if your business cards are in the big pile yet.

I would define SEO as the efforts to purposefully move ones website to be placed higher on the results page in response to a search query at a range of search engines.

But there are thousands of search engines out there. True. But all but 3 are irrelevant to your optimization efforts. Google, Yahoo and MSN control about 98% of all searches performed on the Internet. Focus on the three big search engines and the rest will take care of itself.

What is there to optimize? The aim is to be found by people searching for things that you offer on your website. When people search they do this textually by querying a search term or phrase. For you to optimize your site you first have to understand for which keywords or key phrases you want to be found. As I am practicing real estate in Aspen, Colorado and appropriate search term could be “Aspen Real Estate”.

Make sure you repeat your keywords and phrases on your homepage. Make the most important key phrase a headline and type it in a bold font.

It is important to understand that search engines are automated computer systems programmed by humans to evaluate the webs content without human interference. This means that search results are based on what is called a computer algorithm. This is basically a set of instructions for the computer on how to evaluate certain criteria and translate the results into a sequence of importance. Most important website first, least important website last.

The art and science of Search Engine Optimization is to try to understand what the search engines are looking for in a good site and then giving the search engine just that. The Google search engine algorithm probably looks at hundreds of different criteria. It is so complex that not even the engineers inside Google know the whole picture. Well you might say, how should none Google employees then know what to do?

Basically the most important fundamentals of what makes a good websites are known. Google for example uses a patented mathematical concept they called “Page Rank” at the root of their systems. Links are seen as votes. The more links are pointing to one website the more important that website must be. The more important the website is that votes for another website the more weight that vote caries.

So, try to get people to link to your website. It is important to know that links from website that have the same topic as your website seem to be more important than links from website that do not fit the subject. Links from other real estate related website are more important to my website then links from websites promoting toys.

Search engines like content rich websites. The more pages with useful content the better. Blogs are a great way to accumulate great on-topic content over a period of time. This is all the more important as search engines like website that have fresh content on a regular basis.

DMOZ.org is a human compiled directory of websites. Read their instructions carefully and submit your website to a relevant category. Yahoo and Google use this directory and it helps to be listed.

Generate a site map and place the xml file on your web server. A site map is basically a long list containing all your web pages in a format that is readable by computer programs employed by search engines to browse the web. These programs are called “bots” or “spiders”. This will help the search engines to find all the pages on your website. Remember, the more web pages the search engine knows about the better for you.

Search engines cannot read certain content. Graphical content is one such thing. If your site consists of mainly pictures the search engine will not understand what your site is about and therefore will not offer it as a result of a search. Make sure your site is text rich.

Real Estate website can have pages for the different subdivisions in the area serviced. Write a blog on the property of the week. Incorporate a section of “Frequently Asked Questions”. Write about yourself and give people a bio on you. Explain the buying and selling process. Offer sales statistics. The list goes on.

Get a program Like “Advanced Web Ranking” to search the search engines for search results containing your keywords. Optimization is fun when you start to see results. But manually looking for your website in search results is labor intensive and a good job for an automated program.

Read web forums and a couple of books on SEO once you are past the basics. The field is constantly evolving and there us tons more to learn.