Does my business need a mobile app to stay competitive? You must be wondering if mobile apps are a trend or a reality? Consider this first, in a survey reported by The Canadian Press in July 2013, 56% of Canadian adults were using a smartphone (up from 33 percent in early 2012). Mobile usage is not going anywhere but up!
Is there value in creating a mobile app for your business? Sure there is. (I’ve outlined two key benefits below for developing a mobile app.) The tougher question is, does your business need a mobile app?
Before I dive into this question, let me clarify a common misunderstanding that surrounds mobile apps, specifically, as it relates to mobile responsive website design. Put simply, these are two different strategies.
It goes without saying in today’s marketplace, a mobile responsive website design is a must for a good start to any mobile marketing strategy, but it’s not a replacement for a mobile app. Each serves a different purpose. A mobile app (or native app) is an application specifically designed for a particular device or platform (e.g. Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry). Mobile apps offer users far more flexibility and features than a mobile responsive website, it serves a specific purpose. For instance, GO Transit (a regional transportation system in Greater Toronto) has an app for their train schedule.
Does My Business Need a Mobile App?
Ask yourself (and leadership team), what can a mobile app do for my business? By simply asking this question you are on the right track; to ignore it, is bad-business acumen. So what’s the answer? Well, it depends on several factors. In my experience, if you consider the following, you will begin to come up with the right answer for your business.
First, mobile apps (notwithstanding gaming apps) are about the flow or exchange of relevant, timely and useful information. Keeping this in mind, identify what information you have in your possession today that could benefit your existing customers; talk to them and find out what information they want in order to keep them engaged with your business. For example, Rogers Mobile has an app (myRogers) that identifies your account usage – data and voice; almost real time.
Second, if you consider potential customers, determine that piece of information that would lead them to a purchasing decision. For example, if you are a wine producer; you could have an app that provides dinner recipes to users. This app could also suggest wine pairings with different meals (like your brand of wines!)
Remember an app is an extension of your business; it should engage and solve a problem for your target market, easily and quickly. They may not even know the problem exists but if you identify it for them, you will win brand-loyalty.
As I’ve mentioned there are other factors but if you and your team address the above, you will at least answer begin to answer the question, does my business need a mobile app.
SPOILER ALERT: You need to be extremely aware that the information you want to provide has to be either readily available or can be obtained fairly easy (internal or external). Otherwise, costs for mobile app development will increase if the information/data needs to be generated from scratch.
Benefits of a Mobile App
Here are two benefits that stand out for me as to why you should ask yourself the question: what can a mobile app do for my business?
Making it easier for your customer (or prospective customer) to engage with your business in a simpler, more efficient way is always a positive step towards creating brand loyalty. Think of Kraft’s iFood Assistant app, it provides easy recipes for the user. By doing this, Kraft provides great meals and a happy culinary experience for the user while marketing and promoting Kraft products; building trust and brand loyalty.
It is a great touch-point for marketing other products or services. If the user has downloaded your app – one of two things just happened. (1) They are telling you they are an existing customer, so, you can keep in-touch with them staying top-of-mind. (2) They are not a customer but they are interested in what you are offering (information or product), so, you have a chance to engage and build trust with them.
Don’t just develop a mobile app for the sake of it with no marketing plan surrounding it. However, don’t ignore the question because your business could be missing a great opportunity.