Is A Mobile App Right For Your Business?

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Mobile Device
There is no denying that mobile devices are taking up more of our lives and our time. It is therefore understandable if business owners feel the pressure to build a mobile app. That being said, is a mobile app right for your business?

The stats for mobile device use are staggering. According to Buildfire dot Com, there were over 2.7 billion smartphone users globally combined with an additional 1.35 billion tablet users in 2019. Furthermore, 90% of time spent on mobile phones is spent in apps.

It does not take stats to tell how ubiquitous mobile phones and their apps are. You can see it everywhere you go. Whether you are in the streets or at a restaurant, people cannot be separated from their phones for a long enough periods of time. For the business person, this represents opportunity.

However, just because mobile phones are popular and you see others building apps does not automatically equate to you doing the same for your business. Before embarking on the journey of building an app for your business you have to seriously think certain things through.

Do You Have A Website

One of the first things to consider is whether or not you have a website in place already. It is not strictly necessary to first get a website before building a mobile app but it is the ideal approach. The main reason for this is discover-ability.

Before you can build a mobile app for your business, you have to have a strategy by which mobile users will discover your app. Websites are highly discover-able with search and it is easier to build relationships with customers.

The app stores have millions of apps and you often search for apps that you are already aware of as opposed to discovering them. Even if your customers are to use the search facility on the app store, it is a tall order that they will find your app.

Having just any type of website is not sufficient, however. You need to ensure that your website is responsive. Responsive design ensures that your website scales to properly display on any device on which it is viewed. In other words, a responsive website is  "mobile friendly".

If you do have a responsive website, you have to ask yourself if it is not sufficient for your needs since you can also reach customers on mobile devices through the browser on those devices. Obviously there can be a significant user experience difference when users use an app compared to the responsive website. A website is a good complement for a mobile app.

Are You Offering Real Value

Building a mobile app just because everyone is doing it may not be the best use of the significant resources, including significant financial resources, that go into building one. Before you build a mobile app, you have to be sure that you are providing value.

According to Localyst dot Com 21% of users now abandon an app after one use. This means that 1 in 5 users will never again go into an app after opening it for the first time. This statistic is of concern for anyone trying to interact with customers.

App abandonment will not occur if you ensure that you are building value into your app. I can give the example of my FNB Banking app. It saves me time by giving me the opportunity to skip the lines at the bank and for that reason I have had it on my phone for a long time and I use it regularly.

Providing value means building features into the app that customers find useful and hence will keep the app and use it regularly. If you cannot do this, you should not build an app because it will result in app abandonment and loss of your investment in building the app.

When To Consider A Mobile App

Before embarking on the journey of building a mobile app for your business, do so if the following considerations apply to you;

  • You Have Tailored Communication Needs: Users of mobile apps can set preferences and options which will allow you to provide unique experiences for each user. For example, the set preferences allow businesses to serve targeted advertisements to users. Set preferences can enable customized recommendations and location-based promotions tailored towards specific customers.
  • You Want To Leverage Device Capabilities: Mobile apps have access to device capabilities such as GPS or push notifications. Accessing these device capabilities is empowering for business which, in the case of examples given, can offer location based services and enable customers to receive notifications even when the app is closed.
  • Offline Usage: By having a mobile app, you can create experiences for your users where they can have some app features available while offline. The user activities can be synced with the server once they get back online.
  • You Have Interactive or Dynamic Content:  Mobile apps can deal with highly interactive or dynamic content. Examples are mobile games which take advantage of device capabilities.
  • You Have An Existing Customer Base: A mobile app is great when your company develops a loyal customer base that you know would appreciate the added platform. Mobile apps are never a good tool to find new customers.
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