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5 Things Your Company's Mobile App Must Have

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It's looking increasingly like every business — big or small — will eventually need to develop a mobile app to allow customers to reach them from wherever they are.

Luke Lightfoot, marketing and client services at UR Mobile, a software company that provides enterprise-level, mobile Web solutions, says that in order to create an effective mobile Web app, businesses need to keep a few things in mind.

Integration with back-end data – You do not need to create a mobile Web app from scratch, Lightfoot said. There is a good chance your company is already using a Web app that just needs to be extended to the mobile Web, Lightfoot said. "Instead of developing a brand-new app that would require a separate database and add layers of complexity, small businesses can now translate a current Web app to the mobile Web, effectively leveraging their current service."

Integration with multiple applications - Not only can companies translate Web applications to the mobile Web, they can also orchestrate disparate services from unrelated applications to create one unique and powerful mobile Web app, Lightfoot said.

"Companies have the ability to integrate functionality from multiple Web apps into one mobile application, without adding layers of complexity," he said. "This allows mobile constituents to engage with multiple business processes at once, streamlining constituents’ interactions with multiple backend databases."

Mobile-specific tools - In order to create a rich user experience, companies should also include relevant tools, like geo-location and social media, in their mobile Web apps, Lightfoot said. "There are a variety of options for this strategy of enhancing the user experience by taking advantage of the mobile environment. Allowing constituents to find business-related services or event locations and empowering them to share their experiences about the SMB’s services from their mobile devices can increase constituent engagement," he said.

Branding - Companies should tailor the look and feel of their mobile Web apps, not only to achieve a consistent brand image in the application, but also to extend the same quality of interaction to their mobile Web apps that is present in their other service channels, Lightfoot said. "This level of optimization unifies branding in the mobile channel with that in other channels and reflects well on the brand," Lightfoot said.

Accessibility - Great mobile Web apps should not be kept secret, warns Lightfoot. "Small businesses should advertise these new service channels," he said. "One way to do this is by generating QR codes , which link directly to the mobile app. These images can then be added to marketing collateral like brochures and posters." Companies can also send URL links through emails, social media and text messages to make people aware of the new mobile Web app, he said.