A couple of years ago, it felt like everyone was building mobile apps, leading to the birth of the saying “there’s an app for that!”*
Companies developed mobile applications to make things easier for their customers; whether that was in making payment, or getting quick access to information on the move.
But many businesses also built apps because they felt like they should. Everyone else was doing it, so why shouldn’t they? This meant the actual purpose of the project was tacked on as an afterthought.
Perhaps predictably, a surplus of useless apps that customers didn’t find remotely valuable or interesting followed. This has led to a widespread belief that apps are now pretty redundant and “over”, especially if you’ve already got a mobile responsive website.
However, this isn’t always the case. Done properly and with the right intentions, apps can offer superior experiences to mobile users and keep customers engaged with your brand. Here are some additional benefits of having your own dedicated app:
You stay “in front of” your customer at all times – It’s no secret that mobile use has grown over the years – in fact, latest statistics state that we now spend more time using technology than we do sleeping. Having an app means your icon will remain on the home screen of your customers’ mobile devices, reminding them of your presence every time they unlock their phone. They’re more likely to click and open the app that’s staring them in the face daily, than to take the trouble to search for your website.
Two words: push notifications – When a customer downloads your application, they’ll be asked to agree to push notifications, i.e. little reminders every time something changes on your app. In the same way that a permanent icon serves to remind mobile users of your business, push notifications are a direct and immediate way of getting their attention.
Build brand loyalty – One of the most important benefits of apps is that they help you to build a meaningful relationship with your customer, leading to an increase in brand loyalty. Cutting through advertising noise and providing something of genuine value at a customer’s fingertips will help you to elevate your business above the rest.
So how do you know whether developing an app is right for your business, and how can you make sure it’s successful? Here’s some key things to consider:
Cost vs Benefit
Developing an app isn’t cheap. Think of the process as launching a new website, just on a slightly smaller scale. You need to spend time brainstorming the concept, designing it, testing it and marketing it, all of which take time and money to do well.
Think about whether you have the budget to dedicate to developing your app. While it will definitely add to our value proposition and brand standout, as we’ve mentioned, the market is pretty crowded, so you’ll need to make it really special to cut through.
What Have You Got to Offer?
You’re asking your customer to go to the app store and physically download, and even pay, for your app – so there needs to be something in it for them. There’s no point replicating your site in app format, as this is what a mobile responsive website is for.
Firstly, figure out the purpose of your app. Is it to generate revenue, or to act as a customer service platform? When considering this, it might be useful to take a look at some already successful branded apps – and what it is that makes a customer want to use them in the first place.
Snapchat is a great example of a platform that has capitalised on our appetite for mobile interaction, and the immediacy of social networking. If you’ve somehow missed Snapchat, here’s the lowdown– it allows you to send short clips or images, which the recipient can only view for a number of seconds.
Yep, that really is it.
The makers of Snapchat recognised a niche and developed it into a catchy hook, making Snapchat one of the most successful and interesting social platforms around today.
Furniture giant IKEA’s app allows you to superimpose items into your own home before you buy, to test out how they might look. This effectively removes the lack of tangibility, which often becomes a conversion obstacle in online shopping.
Starbucks do a pretty good job of making payment quick and easy, allowing you to top up your Starbucks card on your phone, as well as scanning it to pay. The store locator function also alerts you whenever you’re close to your next coffee fix.
So, you’ve had a think about whether or not you’d like to develop an app, and you’re feeling inspired. Here are some more quick tips to get you started:
- Keep things simple – A customer should be able to tell what your app is for straight away. Don’t make things too difficult or complicated, or you’ll just turn them away.
- Get social – It’s one thing to develop and launch an app, and quite another to promote it. Use social media to engage your audience and alert them to what’s coming.
- Do a BETA launch – Launch to a select group of users first to weed out any bugs, and make sure your app is in tip top shape before sharing it with the masses.
Should your business build an app? If not, are you thinking of developing one? Do let us know what you’re looking to build and we will be happy to work with you.
*Oh and the phrase “There’s an app for that” came from Apple in 2009 when it was marketing the iPhone 3G. Do you remember this ad?