Managing Mobile App Development to Drive Engagement

April 30, 2013 Pivotal Labs

Engaging your users through your mobile app is a critical factor in a successful mobile application. Too many apps fail because they do not truly engage their audience. An insightful article in CMSWiRE identifies five important areas for managing the mobile app development process to drive engagement: development, control, functionality/features, performance, and monetization.

In Koo Kim makes really good points about these areas that are worthy of consideration for anyone thinking about how to drive engagement. Here are some highlights.


Kim cites multiple development challenges: too many people doing ad-hoc development, least common denominator development approaches that don’t take advantage of mobile or device capabilities, and using mobile apps as just another venue for info from your content management system. The danger with ad-hoc development is that you won’t drive engagement because ultimately you’ll confuse the user. This reminds me of AAA’s original app strategy, which involved multiple purpose-built apps that eventually were consolidated back into one app. Think before you app.


Control relates to both controlling your budget for apps and control of how you use data that users share with the app. Users are willing to provide data if it improves the user experience. How you leverage that data is key to your success, but it also makes sense to control how that data is used in service of your engagement strategy.

Functionality and Features

Functionality and features connect with your use of the platform. Don’t just re-release your smartphone app for tablets without thinking through the form factor and use of that device. Drive engagement by letting users rate, review, and comment.


Performance is a tricky area. If your app is beautifully designed and engaging but doesn’t perform well, you’ve wasted your time. Users on devices are filling spare moments. If your app lags, you’ve just lost them and they will quickly “change the channel” and quite possibly delete your app to boot.


Monetization is an especially thorny question with regards to engagement. The most common models, subscription and ads, are unhelpful for driving engagement. Asking users to pay for the app or for a subscription reduces adoption, while ads can annoy users. Kim suggests exploring sponsorships and co-branding to fund apps more effectively.

Final Thoughts

Everyone is managing application development, but few are managing it with a purpose. This article offers a great deal of substantive food for thought as you work to drive engagement with mobile app users.

About the Author


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