To App or Not to App?

mobile apps

With the constant technological whirlwind that our society endures every day, it’s tempting for businesses to believe that they need to hop onto every trend and platform. One area of confusion that many business owners often fret about is app development. When does a company need it and when does it not? It’s important to reach customers where they are – and where they are in today’s environment is mobile. But, this does not necessarily mean that they need an app to get the message.

If you’re thinking of creating a mobile app for your business, here are a few tips to help out along the way:

  • Create An Innovative Idea: Shape your app around a service or action that no other app in the industry provides. Take Nike as an example. The exercise giant was one of the first to jump on this train, developing the Nike+ Running App for users to easily track their running activity. While most brands provide shopping or customization tools, Nike chose to build their brand using an alternative outlet. Runners began to associate Nike with the activity of running, in turn building brand loyalty. Their mobile marketing efforts have continued to evolve with innovation at the heart of it all.
  • Minimize Processes: Your app should minimize an otherwise difficult process for customers. This will allow them to be better served, offering the company a competitive edge. Chase Bank set the standard for mobile app banking – first launching the mobile check scanning function, which all other major banks have fought fiercely to catch up with. No longer do customers have to drive to the bank or stand in line during work hours; they can do it from their own home on their own time. On a smaller scale, a company might have the opportunity to develop a client portal in order to access information or to accomplish a particular task that would otherwise be more complex or time-intensive.
  • Focus On An Extension of a Product Or Service: Use your app to simplify the buying, planning or building process for customers on-the-go. Chipotle, Dominos and other restaurant chains have begun offering food ordering apps, allowing customers to customize their burrito or pizza and place their order – with their credit card already saved – in no time. There is no “about” section; this is not a mobile version of their site… this is about extending the service through their tablet or phone.

As mentioned above, apps are not for everyone. If the following aspects are present in your company’s app brainstorming, it may be best to steer clear of development:

  • No Clear Goals. First and foremost, an app should not be invested in without a clear purpose. Many companies dive in with the mindset that they must create one to stay current, without thinking through why they are doing it. Without pain to resolve and goals to accomplish, put the app conversation aside.
  • No Problem Being Solved. One question you must ask before delving into the world of app development is – will this app provide something more to the customers than what a mobile-optimized, responsive website can provide? If the answer is no, then skip. It’s not worth the hours and dollars needed to build a replica of an existing website.
  • Small Budget.
 Bottom line – app development is not cheap. It takes serious dollars to create an app that will provide a strong return on investment. Beware of app development companies touting claims that they can develop a proper business app with $5000 or less. Typically this kind of app development allows for very little customization, very little functionality and requires the app design to stay within a very strict template or layout. This combination makes for an app that is not unique, cannot solve any problems and, therefore, is not worthwhile.

While apps have the potential to be great business tools, they’re not right for everyone. Always remember to be realistic about your company’s services and budget. Who knows? The next “must-have” app just might have your company’s name on it.

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