That's quite an interesting question. In the world of gadgets and websites, is a mobile app for your business a necessity or a luxury?
Over the Years
First of all, let me remind you that the history of marketing started centuries ago. However, no matter how the services and goods were advertised (with the help of newspapers, radio, TV, billboards or Internet) the main idea when choosing the means of marketing was to reach as many potential customers as possible. You will undoubtedly agree that in this list the Internet still holds the first position when it comes to informing people or, in the world of marketing, promoting your brand.
And then again, isn't a mobile friendly website enough? Why should I spend my money on developing a business application when it is practically the same thing? Or isn't it?
Let's see. Imagine your company has a nice mobile friendly website. So, when was the last time it was able to instantly notify your customers of an offer, present you information about their location or feelings? The thing is that modern apps already use such things as biometrics, geo-location, cameras, sensors - something a traditional HTML-based site doesn't (and probably never will).
Unless you believe me, just think. If, let's say 15 years ago, when there was no Facebook or Groupon or even widespread digital photography, you offered some local merchant to create a site for his shop, I'm 99% sure he would tell you to go far, far away with your crazy ideas and foolish suggestions. And that would be logical for him in the early 2000. It was an exotic thing to have a website back then.
What about nowadays? The first thing you do, when you are looking for something to buy, is you open your browser, don't you? The problem of the merchant was that he didn't realize the potential of a website, the same thing happens now with mobile apps. However, more and more people reckon that a mobile app is going to be a standard component of any business in the future. Somehow, I tend to believe them.
The biggest companies (as well as many midsize businesses) already have one, whereas at the small business level mobile apps are still rare. However, I can assure you that if you're reading this, already considering whether it's worth having one or not, you are one step ahead of your competitors.
The Power of Apps
So, given that you have good quality products or services, what helps mobile apps to boost your business? First of all, merchants get practically unlimited and instant access to customers. Correct me if I'm wrong, we hardly ever switch off our mobile devices or, help me God, accidentally leave them at home. It is the thing that is always with us and (thanks to numerous mobile apps for Android) can any second attract our attention by a push notification, inform us on special sales and promotions. And that is something a website is not capable of, as far as I know.
It is also a way to engage with those customers who are always so horribly busy (believe me, I have met such people) that they do not have any time at all to even THINK about wanting to buy something. I'm sure mobile apps will have a better chance of getting their attention during lunch break than a website will.
Moreover, let's not forget about their potential. First websites were primitive and unattractive if compared to those today. They allowed you to speak out on the market, ensured better brand recognition and that was mostly it. However, let's remember that nothing stays the same. Modern technologies are rapidly developing and if you look at what mobile apps can do today, who knows what they will be able to do (not in 10 or 5 years) but in one whole year! Excited? I am!
So, among the evident reasons why your business needs a mobile app is that they ensure effective mobile strategy, raise brand awareness and of course help you to go with the times.
Some of you may think that if these technologies are still being designed and improved, perhaps you should wait a bit and get the newest developments and be ahead of others. Well, such thinking will not do you much good. Tell me, which would be easier: to find a developer who has to make an app for your business from scratch using the newest methods OR to update your old app with the new features you wish to have? The choice seems obvious to me. The sooner you start the better.
So, in case you decide to create an app for your business, there comes another question. Where to get one? Where is this place where you can quickly buy the most successful apps and be over with it? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here but you do have a few options:
- Use a mobile application builder. You do not have to know anything about coding or technicalities but you will have to pay monthly fee for it.
- Hire a development agency.
- Assign this task to your own in-house team of programmers.
The difference between a special agency and your own people can result in quality so don't rush into decisions. Your team can cost you less but will probably lack skills in this particular sphere. An expert agency will be more pricy but it does have some benefits as well. You see, they are more likely to know exactly how to create a mobile app for your business that will fulfill your needs and hopes. Moreover, you will probably need their constant support after launching the application (like upgrading your app, introducing new features, ensuring customer and technical support). So choose wisely.
Undoubtedly, no matter what you decide, each of these options requires resources, time and energy. The bright side of things is that after a while, a well-designed professional mobile app for business will pay for itself.
Some Advice for the Road
So if you're encouraged to try it, here's what I reckon a successful application should be like. When designing it, focus on facts, on the user experience not only on how YOU see things. Make it simple but pleasant to the eye (unless you want people to delete it in the first five minutes). Create excellent customer support (it will ensure their loyalty and trust). Test it before launching (and after each upgrade as well).
Of course, not creating a mobile app will not destroy your business. But in my opinion, only a person with strategic thinking can be a star in the world of commerce and everything points to the fact that mobile activity is poised to overtake desktop activity in the near future. I really believe that having a mobile friendly website is only the first step on this path. And one step can't take you far!