Everyone wanted to create a mobile app when the first iPhone was released well over a decade ago. Since then, marketers have learned a great deal more about what it takes to build and sustain mobile applications, putting even more pressure on marketers as consumers’ online behaviour has moved significantly to smartphones.
Marketers and tech leaders are making better decisions these days on when a business really requires an app and when a mobile-friendly website – an absolute essential for SEO requirements and user experience – will be enough.
So, does your business really need an app? Let’s take a look at some of the things that you need to think about in order to answer that question.
Do your customers need one?
Before you do absolutely anything towards building an app for your business, you need to look at the bigger picture. What are you providing for your customers? What is it that they need from you?
This is where market research and perhaps even focus groups are useful. Look into your customer behaviour and what the best way to deliver important information such as offers, opening times, loyalty options, important announcements and so on are. Consider what devices they are accessing your standard website and content on – Google Analytics should give you an insight into this.
Some businesses naturally lend themselves to an app – food deliveries and taxi companies for example. Customers can go on, order their food or cab without having to speak to anyone, pay and see the status of their order. However, other companies do not have quite such a pressing need. A hairdresser, for example – a usable and mobile-friendly website for seeing prices, opening times and booking appointments is essential, but does this need an app? Potentially not – although you know your customers better than we do!
Don’t jump in and build an app just because everyone else is. If it is not bringing any real value to your business, it may not be worth the extra expenses and hassle.
What do you want your app to do?
Examine the key features you want to offer to see if your customers can benefit from an app. Do you need them to book things through the app? Make payments? Search for things? Does it need to be able to take pictures or scan things? All of these are important questions to ask before delving into the design and build process.
Can you afford the ongoing costs of an app?
Apps can cost as little or as much as you want to create. Basic ones are cheap – you can even build your own and carry out API testing to make sure that it works, but for ones with higher levels of functionality, you will need the services of an app developer. That costs. Not only do you have the initial design and development fee to think about, but ongoing updates, modifications and the management of the app? This can all add up. If the app brings a great deal of your value to your business, it may have a great ROI, but if not, it can be a very expensive white elephant.