Does your business need an app?

Apps are cool, I like apps. They let you (me) do more stuff with your (my) smartphone. Nonetheless, not all apps are cool and help you do more stuff. I’m writing this for you – Marketing manager, director, Chief Marketing Officer or Small Business Owner – to help you understand if you are ready or in need for an app.

Apps are expensive

This shouldn’t come as surprise. Development (coding & design) for your selected platforms (iOS, Android, maybe windows phone) can cost quite steeply. What’s more – it will also cost to adapt your existing systems to work well with these platforms and services on them.

After posting your apps on their markets (Google Play, app store etc.) there will be bug fixing, updating the app for new OS versions and different phone models (screen resolutions). Every time when you’ll want something changed, you’ll need a help from your developers.

So make sure that those bucks you will spend on THE (becouse it will be yours) app will make up for them somehow.

What will your app achieve

Just as with everything you do in business, building an app should have a clear goal.

Valid reasons are:

  • It will help your customers to use your product or service better, easier or in more ways than possible before (example – ordering a taxi via app automatically – using GPS location data and client’s personal account with the cab company)
  • It will make your product or service more accessible (example – ordering photo prints directly from phone or checking bank’s account balance without access to PC or ATM)
  • It will help your customers use your services or product on-the-go and that is (one of ways) how your product is meant to be used (example – Fuel company’s app that locates nearest gas station, delivers information on prices, working hours & other location and time dependent data)
  • It suits your target audience’s core needs (example – Nike+ apps for runners which helps their target audience to achieve more)
  • and not limited to these – mobile phones let you use location data and social networks to deliver very special customer experiences anywhere. Be creative, but don’t start without a clear vision on how this app will help your bottom line (income)

Some insufficient reasons for building an app:

  • Delivering news & information on special offers – You have twitter, blog, Facebook, foursquare and other networks for this – if your customers doesn’t want to see you there (in their favorite environments), my bet is that they won’t download an app for that
  • Displaying contact details – What would you choose if you needed to find a local business contact information – looking for an app or trying to do search via phone’s web browser? Yeah, fix your website so it’s mobile-friendly
  • It’ll make you look cooler – No. Badly developed app and bad user experience can do you more bad than good.
  • Displaying your social media feeds – Read the first point in this list of insufficient reasons.

In most cases web apps and mobile-friendly websites are enough

Mobile is growing and mobile web with it. The same can be said about mobile and local searches. You want to be found when someone is looking for where to spend his/her money. Native apps should be created only when you need to use specific phone resources or deliver very tailored experiences. Or you can come up with some other strongly defensible reason which beats the crap out of the web-app.

If you found this interesting, some more insights can be found in this article: Building a mobile app. Do it step by step. Literally. There are 3 reasons.

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