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Why are business awards so important?

Due to our latest success with becoming nominees and winners of varied business awards, we thought we would get the opinion of one of our interviewers for Thames Valley Tech Awards, Nicky Larkin, of Goringe Accounts on why business awards are of great significance.

Why do you feel business awards are important to the business community?

Business awards are important as they give businesses huge recognition for the fantastic results they’ve achieved and the work they’ve done, making them stand out from the competition. This is not only great for attracting new customers but gaining strong recognition for success inspires and motivates your team, can help to attract top talent and is great for PR, marketing and brand reputation.

Why did you chose to sponsor the TVT awards?

The TV technology awards are well established and highly recognized for being one of the most credible awards in the region and do an extremely good job at pulling together a successful awards process and event.

The reason we chose to sponsor the Tech Leadership Team category was because technology is a sector we heavily specialize in, in providing finance services from VAT to Payroll to R&D Tax relief. By sponsoring the TVT awards and in particular our category, we’re giving the opportunity for the best technology companies and their leadership, to shine as the best in the region and, arguably the best in the country as the Thames Valley is deemed the tech hub of the UK.

What are you looking for in a good award submission?

An entry that shows outstanding achievement and, for our category, world class team leadership who were truly innovative and successful in their work.

Do you enter any business awards yourself?

We’ve proudly won awards such as ‘The Thames Valley Small Employer of the Year,’ at the National Apprenticeship Awards, listed as a Top 10 firm in the Accountancy Practice Excellence Award, and in 2017 I received the ‘Professional of The Year ‘Award at the NatWest Thames Valley Venus Awards.

Entering awards does take time and resource but should be an essential part of any business’s growth strategy so we aim to enter awards every other year.

What would your advice be to someone thinking of entering their first awards?

Coming back to my point about the time and effort it can take to enter awards, ensure that you focus on awards where you have the strongest evidence of success.

Don’t be scared to enter awards and when you find the right one for your business, then go for it. Read the entry criteria and judging guidelines thoroughly and carefully, and ensure to provide high quality information and evidence that’s relevant to the category – don’t be tempted to just rehash from previous award entries. Show how you are different and a worthy winner of that particular category.

If you would like to get in touch with Nicky personally in regards to Goringe Accounts, their website is hyperlinked, or you can follow Nicky’s twitter account at @GoringeAccounts.

 

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The Knights Foundation Teddy Bear Appeal

What is the Teddy Bear Appeal? And what does it do?

The Teddy Bear Appeal raises funds for children within the community to have a family break in “The Knights Foundation Lodge”, absolutely free of charge.

It gives children with disabilities or terminal illness, along with their families, the opportunity to have some downtime in the luxurious 3 bedroom accommodation.

The lodge includes state of the art equipment and monitoring systems, all while in the centre of all of the parks amenities and close to the beach.

How can I support the Teddy Bear Appeal?

You can get involved with supporting #KFBearAppeal by creating a standing order for just £10 per month – the price of 2 costa coffee’s for the day!
This means your donation will put a child and family in the lodge for a day, equipped with all the entertainment passes and access to the park’s facilities.

What has the Teddy Bear Appeal achieved already?

It has currently got 62 donators which has raised £7440, this is constantly updating with the increase of supporters who join. You can follow the progress by downloading “The Knights Foundation Teddy Bear Appeal” App on Android and “KF Bear Appeal” on iOS.

We have helped contribute to this App by developing it for The Knights Foundation, and signed up to the Teddy Bear Appeal as we are passionate in supporting these families with holidays they so desperately need.

The App has also been sponsored by Paris Smith LLP, who have specialist lawyers who can help with any concerns or hopes you may have regarding the future of your child.

You can download the app and keep up to date by clicking a link below:-

Android

iOS

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App Store Optimisation – what works, what doesn’t

We read a lot of recommendations for App Store Optimisation. Some, in our experience, are valid – but many are not.

Obviously the most effective promotion comes from outside channels – advertising, social media, PR, etc. But how can you get app stores to rank you more highly and promote your app over others?

Keep posting new releases

App stores like new, fresh content. Newer apps will start to supersede your app if it hasn’t been updated for months. Rather than 2 or 3 large updates a year, release little and often. Try for once a week. It’s completely fine to post a new version with nothing more than a few wording or graphics tweaks. Apple and Google respect the fact that your app is in regular development.

As a bonus, your users get notified when your app updates. This acts as a little advert, and drives usage.

Solicit feedback

Ask your users for reviews. Give them a couple of days’ usage before asking – the ones still using it after that time are the ones who like it, so you’ll get higher marks.

Respond to reviews

Respond to every review. Both Google and Apple allow you to do this, and they’ll boost you up when they notice you’re interacting with your community. It’s all about customer experience.

Your first month really matters

App stores form first impressions pretty quickly. If after a month or so your app hasn’t been well received, your listing will be buried. We’ve been brought in to rescue apps in this state – and it’s a near impossible task. Keep on top of your app in the early days. When you get negative feedback, react quickly and fix problems urgently. Respond to your critics. Regularly post new releases.

Create an app video

Whether you like it or not, app stores promote apps with videos above those without. A simple screen recording showing your app in use is all you need. No need for fancy effects or editing.

Tweak your description and keywords

As with search engine optimisation on the web, keep tweaking your app’s description and keywords. Try also changing the category. Google allows you to simultaneously test two versions of your listing to see which users respond to best.

Don’t bother creating a web page

I keep hearing people advise others to create a web page for their app. This is worthless advice. There is no correlation between having a web page describing your app, and your ranking in app store searches. There are sometimes other reasons why you might want to create a landing page – for example as the target of an advertising campaign – but don’t think that it will make your app more visible in the app stores. It won’t.

Don’t add fake reviews

Don’t get all your mates to review your app. It looks a bit sad when an app gets 20 five-star reviews days after launch, then nothing more for weeks. App store spot it from a mile off, Google / Apple will demote you, and your mum wouldn’t be impressed either.

Ditto services which offer to post hundreds of reviews. Avoid.

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My top 5 apps to use on holiday

It’s that time of year where the sun is out and the temperature is up! Well, maybe not HERE, but it is somewhere else and the great British public get getting ready and anxious to go on a summer holiday.

I love this time of year. It feels like all the hard work over the past year has paid off and you can finally relax and not have a care in the world. Of course, this is all what we hope for anyways. Thankfully there are some wonderful apps on the market that are there to make your trip as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. They may not be able to help with that delayed flight or lost luggage, but they’re worth checking out if you want to maximise your hard-earned time away.

1. Trip Advisor – This is definitely my favourite. The best thing about this app is that it updates every two weeks, so you can be sure that your information is up-to-date and sometimes new features, as it is quickly becoming a “one-stop” holiday planning app. You can download city guides to use offline, including maps (tends to be the most popular destinations for now). There are also guides tailored for specific trips, such as a for a romantic getaway, a trip with the family or a quick three-day weekend. Of course, there is always the feature where you can read the reviews the public have left on accommodation, restaurants, places of interests and activities. Another great feature? A new city-inspired soundtrack for your destination – guaranteed to get you excited for the trip!

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2. Google Translate – With over 100 languages to choose from, this app will definitely be something you want to have when you visit a country whose first language may not be yours. There are many different ways to translate: You can type or write it out, speak, or even use the camera to look at text. Google Translate is very helpful and I would definitely keep it handy just in case. You can download a language too to use offline!

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3. Skyscanner – This one is before your actually holiday, but worth the mention. If you are not booking a package, Skyscanner is a must when finding the best deal in airfare. You can also set up alerts to let you know when your desired route is going up or down in price. If you’re looking for a last minute weekend deal, I think this is great because airlines may suddenly put down prices to fill up the seats.

4. TripCase – This app is perfect for having all of your bookings and trip information together in one spot. You can share your trip easily with others who may be travelling with you. Once you enter all of the details, TripCase can keep an eye on delays for you and give you a 10-day weather forecast. If you don’t want to spend the time entering every little detail, you can email them your itinerary to upload the information for you!

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5. XE – Your go-to currency converter! Of course you want to get some currency before you go on holiday but this is a handy guide to see if any of those extra purchases to bring back home are a good deal.

These apps are all designed to make sure you can get the most out of your holiday, whether you want to get away to put your feet up and soak in some sun, or explore the cultural sites, or both! Whatever you get up to this summer definitely take advantage of these free apps to make your holiday as enjoyable as possible.

 

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5 Things To Look For in a Mobile App Developer

Mobile app development is a tricky, tricky thing. Some of our competitors get it right, but (and we’re not just saying this) many of them do not. There are a lot of poorly-developed apps around. We thought it would help to put together a list of what you should look for in an app developer.

To declare the elephant in the room: obviously, we’re app developers ourselves. If you need someone to develop an app for you, we’d love to help. But if you want to go elsewhere, that’s fine too. We’re writing this just to help you identify the good guys from the not-so-good guys.

1. Find someone who really understands the platforms

Each app store publishes a long list of dos and don’ts for apps. These are the rules for the platform, and they are very comprehensive. Here are the rules for Google Play, Apple iTunes, the Windows Store.

Some of them are hard-and-fast (such as not being allowed to use in-app payments for real-world goods), and some of them are guidelines (such as how the app responds to user interaction).

There are some rules that, if broken, your app will be immediately rejected. Conversely there are some guidelines which, carefully and sparingly, should be broken otherwise your app just won’t stand out from the crowd. A good app developer

2. …and be able to tell you what each platform’s users expect

For example, both Android and Apple users expect to be able to share content (eg: post a link for what they’re looking at onto Facebook, or send a picture to a friend on WhatsApp), but the Android share icon looks like this: and the Apple one looks like this:. Put the wrong icon in, and users won’t know what it means, so your content won’t get shared.

As another example, Apple users expect their affirmative Next/OK button to appear in the top right hand corner of the screen. Android users expect it at the bottom. Put it in the wrong place and your users will probably find it, eventually, but the app will feel slightly odd and alienating to them.

If your app developer designs your app to look and feel exactly the same on each platform, it will feel wrong to your users, and potentially give an impression of poor quality. A good app developer will talk you through all the platform differences relevant to your app.

3. Someone who will post the app to the stores

Posting an app to the app stores is a complex business. There’s a lot of information to provide, a lot of hoops to jump through and, unfortunately, a lot of red tape to work against.

A specialist app developer will have done this a thousand times before and know exactly what to expect. For example they will know the sizes of all the screenshots needed, and they will know which export declarations to sign if your app uses encryption. They will also be able to advise on writing a good app description which is attractive to users.

4. …and who will manage the relationship with the stores for you

The app stores can be very demanding – particularly Apple.

App store rules change all the time, and it can affect your store listing. When rules changes, you will receive a technical description of the updates your app requires. A good app developer should receive these notifications on your behalf, and explain what needs to be done to keep your app live. Without this your app could be removed from the store.

Sometimes (though rarely) an app is removed from the app store without warning. Your app developer should be able to find out why this has happened and what the solution is.

5. They should be able to make the most of push notifications

When managed properly, push notifications are fantastic – they are a great way of sending highly-targeted messages to individuals or groups of users. They can be very effective at engaging users and providing calls-t0-action without being intrusive.

Your developer should also be able to advise how to use push notifications for maximum effect. Sending too many, or saying the wrong thing, for example, will be a turn off to your users.

Push notifications require a particular, relatively complex, back-end system. A good developer will have created this for their clients, and it should allow you to send targeted messages to single users, and broadcasts to everyone.

 

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Which platforms should I target: iOS, Android, …?

Android, iOS, Windows Phone… what makes most commercial sense, and which audience is best for my app? We are often asked this question at Apps In The Sky.

Time was it had an easy answer. You released an app for Apple iOS first and others later if at all. Apple had the most users, the largest app store and – arguably – the best system.

Then Android upset that. Since about 2009 its rise has been meteoric and now it has the most users by far – 7 times as many as iOS, which is the next largest. So surely the question once again has an easy answer?

Well… no. As with all questions of marketing it depends on your audience, and Android and iOS users are very different.

  • iOS users pay more. Possibly due to the expense of developing and publishing to the Apple App Store, and possibly due to the fact that it’s smaller altogether, it has much fewer free titles available than Android. Generally therefore Apple users are more resigned to paying for extra functionality.
  • Android users are a much wider base. The sheer range of devices available, from entry-level to top end, make it almost universally suitable. It is used by all kinds of people from CEOs to your gran.
  • iOS users are generally more tech-savvy. All of Apple’s products are at the most expensive end of their markets, and generally the people who spend more on phones/tablets are the people who know more about them.

There are other differences too, and the market split is quite interesting. We have published a whitepaper with more information.

But if you want our quick answer: wait, and release both together. Usually our customers have invested significant marketing resource in that first big “splash”, and just makes sense that your message can apply to your whole audience.

To read more, see our whitepaper: Which Platform?