Mobile Apps

8 Steps to Make Sure Your App Succeeds

By: Bob Kernen

We saw an article from “Business Insider” with the disturbing headline, The App Explosion Is Over.  Since we have a lot invested in the space, it got our attention. Beyond the provocative headline, the point of the article is that growth in the mobile application space has leveled off – the average number of apps used by a typical smartphone owner has been around 27 for the past four years.

Concurrently, the article points out that the time spent using those apps continues to steadily increase, from a monthly average of 18:18 in 2011 to 40:51 today.

The app “explosion” may be over, but that’s okay. Explosions are messy and chaotic and cause a lot of damage.  What it really means is that consumers are more discriminating than ever, and to be one of those 27 apps, you will have to meet their high expectations for utility and performance. Your app must do the job it was “hired” to do well, day in and day out.

As the creators of around 1,000 apps over the past 7+ years, we’ve learned a lot about what makes a great one.

Here is what you need to do to succeed in this less frenetic, but more lucrative space:

  1. Have a strategy.  Sounds basic, but your app needs a strategy just like your station does. A mission for your app takes the guesswork out of mobile.
  2. Excel at one thing and deliver an outstanding user experience.  If the quality of your stream is suspect, or ad insertion is buggy, you are giving listeners a reason to go elsewhere.  Streaming is the number one reason radio apps are used, so make sure it’s loud, clear, and performs without interruptions.
  3. Provide reasons for every day use.  People use Facebook to check in to see what’s happening.  Your apps should provide similar value.  Publish and promote new content and events each day. Be more than a streaming utility. Be a part of your audience’s daily routine.
  4. Provide engagement.  Don’t think of the smartphone as just a receiver. It’s the digital hub of a listener’s life and can distribute content as well as receive.  Ensure that your app easily shares content like podcasts and videos on social media.  Make the app a way for listeners to communicate with your station personalities. Features like Open Mic and video sharing can feed audio and videos directly to you.
  5. Promote it.  Most stations promote their app for the first few weeks after it goes live and then move onto other things. This is a mistake. The app needs to be continuously promoted, and the message needs to be more than just “download our app to hear our station.”  Promote the tangible benefits of your app – “take us on vacation,” “listen at work,” or “use the alarm to wake up with our morning show.” 
  6. Streamline it.  Apps that deliver and don’t clutter themselves with unimportant functionality or “cool” design perform the best. 
  7. Metrics don’t lie.  Your stream, on-demand content, and social media will probably dominate.  Everything else resides in the “long tail.”
  8. Find your secret sauce.  What is unique about your station that can be transformed into a great app experience?  KISW in Seattle has created the “Magic 9-Ball” where users can shake the app to get answers to quirky questions like “Why I didn’t text you back.” 

Whether or not the app explosion is over, smartphones are the dominant way your audience accesses information.  Their phones are always with them, and your station should be too.

We can help you design a great app, adapt one you’re currently using, or help you with mobile app strategy, so don’t hesitate to connect with us.  The bar is rising, and it’s important that brands step up in the mobile app space.

If you want input on your mobile strategy, or want to learn more about monetizing your mobile assets give us a call at 248-353-9030, or email

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