With over 1 million apps in both the Apple Store and Google Play, it’s easy to assume that everyone has an app – except you. Just like businesses once asked “Do I need a website?” the question many business owners now ask is “Do I need a mobile app?” But deciding whether you need an App or not can be a difficult decision. On one hand there’s a huge urge to ‘Go mobile’, but there is also the cost and time required to build an app that needs to be considered. So, is an App worth it for your business? The best way to get an answer is to look at your business and customers’ needs first. Here are some key questions you need to ask before you make a decision:
Are your customers mobile?
Obvious as it seems, this is a question that’s often overlooked. Are you seeing an increase in traffic to your website from mobile phones and tablets? If so dig deeper and see if your current and potential customers are indeed using mobiles/tablets more often to access your site and if so, which platforms (IPhone or Android) are they using?
Will your App provide something your website doesn’t?
Mobile Apps are downloaded for a specific purpose so having an App that just provides the same information as your website is a waste of time and money. If your app doesn’t use the extra benefits the App format provides to deliver a helpful and unique experience to your customers then you may be better off just having a mobile site.
An App or a mobile optimised website?
Before you spend the time and resources to build an App it’s worth considering what extra value a dedicated App will give your business. If all the information you want to give your customer is already on your website and you just need to make it easier to access on a mobile device, then a mobile optimised website could be the answer. It’s less complex to do and will use lesser resources. Also remember that mobile websites work universally – on any mobile device’s browser – while an App is platform dependant.
Having said that, the arguments for an App are compelling. More than half of all mobile phone users now use their mobiles as the primary source to access the Internet and a recent study found that 82% of mobile media minutes are spent with Apps instead of browsers. There are other strong benefits to having an App. Once downloaded an App is always present on your mobile device, unlike a website. More importantly an app has the ability to interact with the existing features of your phone – like the camera, phone book and GPS system.
Here are some other key benefits to having an App:
An App works even when you customer is offline
One of the advantages of an App over a website is that once downloaded your customer can access information online and offline. User guides, Product information, faqs, location directions and general company information can all be made accessible offline. So even if your customer is outside mobile or Wi-Fi signal range they can still access information.
You’re always top of mind
An App is always there. It gives you much more presence on a phone than a bookmark on a browser. Your customers don't need to open a browser and find your url, they just need to tap your App. By being front-and-centre on the mobile desktop, your business is constantly top of mind whether your App is being used or not.
Using your App to send out notifications is far more productive than using email. You’re much less likely to be tossed into the junk mail heap. Text message open rates are over 90%, and since a notification is just like a text message you can be sure your target audience is seeing your message. More importantly notifications allow you to offer your customers value added benefits like reminders, discount coupons, tracking tools and new product information.
Location Based Services
By linking to a smartphone’s GPS system your App can help direct customers to your premises by opening the device’s map service when your customer presses ‘Directions’. More advanced features like alerting your customer about an offer when they’re near your location, or even when they enter competitors stores are all possible with an App.
An App is far more personal than a website and people are much more comfortable doing financial transactions through an App then a website. This makes it a powerful e-commerce channel. It also means you can personalise your offering to individual customers and allow for easy re-order of products. Personalised information like training schedules and nutrition from a gym, appointment reminders from cosmetic and health care providers and access to personal information like photos are all greatly enhanced with an App.
At the end of the day as a business owner it’s your job to make your customers journey from site to sale an easy one. And a mobile App is a powerful way to do that. Apps give you the opportunity to be there when your customers need you, 24/7. However, developing an App isn’t a simple or cheap process, it requires both time and money. By basing your decision on the points outlined above you’ll be in a much better position to evaluate the costs and benefits of an App. If you’re sure your business can make full use of an App’s format and features then it’s worth the investment. If not, a well-designed mobile optimised website with a great user interface and easy navigation could be all that your business needs
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