According to Strategy Analytics, the number of smartphones in the world surpassed the 1 billion mark late in 2012. It may have taken 16 years to reach that mark, but they predict users will surpass 2 billion in less than 3 more years so that’s a lot of smartphone marketing potential.

Smartphones tend to be the most used on a daily basis and experts predict nothing but growth for mobile users. Who wants to miss out on this incredible marketing opportunity?

One great way to take advantage of creating a presence on smartphones is to develop an app. Starbucks created a mobile payment system, or as they call it a ‘scan-and-go way to pay’ for the smartphone. It allows customers to pay for their coffee via their phone plus can also help the user find a nearby location. The company chose to create this app when its research showed that more than 1/3 of U.S. Starbucks customers use smartphones.

Strategy Analytics also reports that usage of LinkedIn on the PC is declining while its use on mobile phones and tablets become more popular.  Group marketing manager at LinkedIn, Leela Srinivasan, shared some statistics with ere.net. They report that there are 19 searches for people every second via a mobile device. That number transcends into about 45 million people searches in a month, via mobile. The increase in mobile usage has almost doubled traffic for LinkedIn year over year.

We decided to look into the top 10 mobile apps in the world and GlobalWebindex had those stats for us.  Starting at number 10 with Instagram at 11% usage, 9 is Whatsapp  with 17% usage, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Twitter tied for 8, 7, & 6 with 22% of usage, #5 is Weixin/WeChat (an interesting non-western app you may not have heard of) takes 27%, Google+ beats that with 30%, YouTube stays strong with 35%, Facebook, as we might guess, owns 44% usage, but Google maps kicks it outta the park with 54% usage!

We asked around LinkedIn to see what our colleagues favorite apps are and had a lot of interesting additions. The most popular ones used by our connections were Evernote, DropBox, LinkedIn and GoogleDocs.

So how does one go about building an app? It may not be as hard as you think but you do need some coding and programming knowledge. Before you start, keep in mind that depending on the app, you may have to register it for the platform & software you choose.

First you have to decide what platform your app will be for: iPhone, Android, Windows or Blackberry. If you haven’t developed an app before we recommend that you start with one platform and then move on to others once you have that first experience under your belt. You will want build on the platform of the phone you use – if you use an iPhone, build an iPhone app first, especially because when you test it you will need to test it on a device you have.

To gather some ideas for your app, browse others that might be similar to yours or offer similar options etc. Once you see what’s out there, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re going to build and you’ll be able to create the architecture of your app. Don’t forget to download the app onto your phone and then play with it extensively so you really understand how it works. Once you’ve done your research you should have an excellent idea of exactly what you want for your app, how you want it to perform and look.

Search the web for guides and tutorials available, there’s lots of YouTube videos that you can learn from as well. Once you know what sort of app you want to build and you’ve done your research you will want to reserve your app name. When you get going, the rule of thumb will be to test, test and test again to check for bugs and other issues. Once you’ve submitted your app to your platform, you will be able to make future updates but customers can rate your app right away, so make sure it’s functioning the way you intend. If building your own app isn’t for you, there are lots of app developers to choose from.

Successful marketing of today’s business is like a big puzzle. You have to have all the pieces that you believe will work for you and then leverage each to build the big picture and reach your ultimate digital marketing goals. Apps make life easier on the go and, as we learned from our research and friends at LinkedIn, there’s an app that fits everyone’s needs!

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