Is Your App DOA? 3 Keys to Mobile Success

The long-awaited Apple Watch has meant more than buyers scrambling to be first in line; it also has technology companies working overtime to ensure their apps are compatible, keeping them ahead of the curve and in touch with what’s next. It wasn’t always like this, however. I know firsthand.

The first app I developed was DOA. It was called Goldstar Weekend, an app intended to be a lightweight version of our desktop experience. In other words, we designed it to be a sidekick to the “real” thing, which was going to be the website. We wanted a Robin for our Batman.

About halfway though the process, my co-founder and I shared the same unpleasant moment of clarity: the very concept of Goldstar Weekend was wrong. It couldn’t be a side dish or second fiddle. It was 2011, and even if we were early, we were still thinking about mobile the wrong way.

People often ask me how a company launched before the mobile revolution can make the transition. On the positive side, nothing makes mobile inherently impossible for companies that weren’t launched last year. Most new, mobile-only or mobile-driven companies will fail, after all. Being “new” won’t help most of them overcome the challenges of a competitive landscape. Here are three tips that will help:

1. Demystify. Mobile isn’t magical or mysterious; it’s just another platform to serve your customers. I should hasten to add it’s the platform where users are migrating en masse.

Today, 70 percent of Goldstar’s traffic comes through mobile (apps and mobile website) and that traffic accounts for 40 percent of sales. App-based sales are up 300 percent year-over-year, and on a per-person basis our customers are buying almost 80 percent more on mobile than they were just two years ago.

2. Go all in. Mobile isn’t the “other” thing; it’s the thing. If you’re not there mentally, get there. Whatever it takes, make the mental transition and commit.

3. Enjoy the ride. If you’ve got a strong business, but little or no mobile presence, don’t be intimidated. You have to make a commitment, but then it’s just a matter of getting to work.

Building and sustaining a successful mobile presence won’t happen over night. It takes time, money and energy, but the payoff is that you’ll still exist in five years.

Jim McCarthy is the CEO of Goldstar, an online discount ticket seller to sporting events, concerts, shows and more.