Adams & Knight Marketing Blog
POSTED BY: Brian McClear

6 questions to ask to see if your business needs a mobile app

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On average, people have about 80 mobile apps installed on their phones.

Yet, they only use about 10 percent of them on a daily basis. 

But given the amount of time, energy and resources it takes to create one, how can marketers make sure their app doesn’t become a one-and-done phenom and actually delivers the desired results?

This is the question we recently posed to our staff of marketing specialists, who work across a range of marketing fields from search and digital marketing to marketing technology and analytics. Indeed, all shared a common point of view that effective apps:

  • offer a value or benefits that mobile websites don’t.
  • offer ease and convenience to all kinds of personal information stored on your smartphone.
  • provide easy access to it even when there’s no internet connection.
  • foster brand loyalty and seamless consumer journeys by literally keeping people connected to your organization.

They also suggest that marketers ask these questions to evaluate whether their business really needs an app and whether that app will expand interaction with their brand:

Does the app fill a need or strengthen the relationships with clients or prospects? 
Will the app provide an extension of your service, or convenience or sense of ownership/privacy that is not possible on the web? Health brands that offer training/weight loss apps, for instance, allow users to track their progress/record workouts while also providing a “sense of privacy” and ready access to trends and history.

Does the app leverage capabilities that are not possible from a website? Like integration with other devices, such as iWatch or FitBit? Some of the best apps out there are those that have good reason to access your mobile device’s hardware capabilities like the camera, GPS, etc. A good example would be banking apps that now let customers take pictures and deposit checks via mobile or using your specific GPS location to serve up offers. All of which can only be served from mobile.

If your idea for an app, doesn’t meet this criteria, you may want to consider a progressive web app (PWA) instead of a native app, which is essentially a feature-rich website built to look, feel and function like an app.

Would a new app provide a function or content that your current site/experience doesn’t offer? If the idea for the app doesn’t bring added functionality or convenience, then it probably would not be a great investment for your brand. Some banking/investment apps, for example, provide quick access to account info, transactions and modeling . . . tools and information that are not always accessible through a website.

In addition, there’s no inherent search/SEO value with an app. That means creating content specifically for it isn’t as valuable as putting it on your website.

Does the app give customers a reason to come back on a regular basis? This is critical to success…because recent studies suggest that as many as 25 percent of apps that are downloaded are used once and then never again.

Is there a commitment to maintaining the app? As people install your app on a myriad of devices, support issues are likely to arise. And as device OSs are updated and the ecosystem around the apps evolves, chances are very good that your app will need regular attention. In fact, very often, the cost to update an app can equal what it cost to develop it in the first place. So make sure there’s a plan and resources allocated to update the app right from the start . . . to maintain functionality and ensure an ongoing positive user experience.

Are there resources to promote and market the app? Just because you develop an app, doesn’t mean your audiences will flock to the App Store to download it. In a sea of 2.2 million of apps, you will need to promote and market your app so that potential users find it . . .and use it. And that will cost extra beyond the initial development.

When properly planned and executed, mobile apps can extend brand loyalty and provide conveniences that websites can’t. Answering “yes” to these questions will make sure it’s worth your effort. 

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Brian McClear
SVP Marketing Technology
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