Does Your Business Need An App? Part 2
This is the second article in a two-part post asking whether you need an app for your business. Read Part 1 here.
What are the pros and cons you need to weigh up when thinking about investing in developing a new app for your company? Is there anything that could go wrong that you have yet to consider, or are there any perks of the plan that you weren’t aware of? Make sure you make an informed decision before deciding to take on app for your business.
Improve customer experience
This is applicable mainly to companies thinking about developing a customer-facing app. However, if you are leaning more towards an app for your staff to streamline processes, speed up day-to-day tasks and improve the quality and speed of your service, then your customers will also benefit to a large extent.
In our first post, we emphasised value as one of the most important factors when designing your app. What value will it add to your customers’ experience? What will it give them that they can’t get from your website? This could be something as simple as vouchers and promotions, or using GPS tracking to help them locate your store.
By creating an app that is really valuable, you will improve your customers’ experiences when they interact with your brand.
Your app is another marketing channel through which you can interact with your customers and drive engagement with your brand. As a small business, having a genuinely useful app will make you appear web-savvy and up-to-date. This is good for your brand image.
You can also use your app as a space to advertise new offers to existing, loyal customers, offer promotions and discounts and increase conversation around your brand. In this respect, your app adds to your sales artillery as another place to include call to actions and sell your products, keeping you ahead of your competition.
Collect customer data
Well-designed apps can enable you to garner in-depth information about your customers. Beyond what they do and don’t like about your existing products, you can use your app to collect customer data and find out where your customers are based; if they are at home or on the move when they engage with your app; what they do for a living; the age of your average customer; what their spending limits are, and more.
This will dramatically improve your targeted marketing efforts, as you know how best to appeal to the people engaging with your app. In turn, this will better enable you to measure the ROI on your investment in an app.
Building an app from scratch doesn’t necessarily come cheap. Prices vary from hundreds to hundreds of thousands, but experts warn that you get what you pay for. You can pay a company to develop your app for you, and then opt to manage it yourself. Alternatively you might pay them on an on-going basis to manage your app for you. A second alternative would be to have your IT team build your app in-house, though this is a time-consuming process.
Measuring ROI can be difficult
Regardless of whether your app is customer-facing or not, measuring your ROI can sometimes feel impossible and as a business owner, you want to know that you’ve got out what you put in. Measurements such as “usefulness” and “value” are subjective but important. When your app is not explicitly dedicated to selling or generating revenue through promotional offers, these can be the only measurements you have to rely on.
For an internal-facing app, the ROI should be measured through its indispensability. Is it saving you and your employees time? Then it’s saving you money.
Similarly, if users are downloading and using your app on a regular basis, then you know that their engagement with your brand has been significantly increased. Every time they use your app to access information, perform a function, read your blog or get directions to your store, they are engaging with your brand. This is marketing paying for itself.
Your app may not be successful
Just because people are downloading your app, doesn’t mean they will use it. If they don’t use it, it’s just another channel you’ve invested in that is failing to drive engagement and build customer loyalty.
This is why value is so important. Build an app that your customers can’t be without. Make sure it offers them something they can’t get from anyone else, or from simply looking at your site. The goal is to build an app that adds to your users’ experience, otherwise, what’s the point?
Marketing your app correctly also has a predictably significant impact on the success of your venture. Make sure to advertise it on your website, your social media channels and business cards. Any time you mention your site, mention your app! Be clear about the benefits it offers your users.
Investing in developing an app could be a huge asset to your company: you may increase brand awareness, consumer engagement and customer experience, all of which add up on the bottom line. But this will only be the case if you bring some value to the table: is your app useful, engaging or necessary?
If your target audience are primarily over sixty-five, perhaps an app is not the best way for you to increase engagement. On the other hand, if it feels like an add-on service for the sake of it, you might want to rethink your approach.
At the end of the day, your decision should rest on what’s best for your company, taking into account the short-term costs, the potential long-term rewards and the ever-present risks.