Should My Company Invest in Making a Mobile App?
More and more companies seem to have apps these days. It's a fun thing to tell customers they can download your app, but if you don't think through the pros and cons, an app may wind up costing a lot of money and producing little return. Some industries benefit more strongly from an app than others. However, as a rule of thumb, nearly every company benefits in some way.
The use of mobile apps is on the rise. Mobile app downloads should reach 284 billion by 2020. Here are some of the reasons you should consider adding a mobile app and a few examples of companies doing mobile right.
1. Reach More Millennials
If you're trying to reach a younger audience, a mobile app may be vital. Three times as many millennials believe an app is a "must-have," compared with older generations. Younger generations grew up with mobile devices. They expect their smartphones to be engaging. If you want to reach the younger crowd, an app is definitely one of the keys to doing so. The majority of millennials have between 20 and 25 brand apps on their smartphones, and another 75 percent use apps to look for products or make purchases.
Some industries, in particular, should tap into this market segment. For example, millennials as a whole reject full-service restaurants for trendier, serve-yourself-style eateries such as Mission BBQ and Blaze Pizza. These restaurants allow them to customize their experience and avoid the expense of tipping a server. Creating an app that drives millennials to your fast-casual restaurant makes sense.
Chick-fil-A has an interesting take with their app. First, they occasionally give away free items to entice consumers to eat there, as seen in the screenshot above. However, they also have a tiered membership program. Frequent diners may get invitations to special events and more free items than those who don't. Customers can also use the app to place an order when they're on the run.
2. Collect Emails
You'll get a lot more users if you offer a free app. The app can be anything from a game related to your industry to information to shopping. In this scenario, you don't charge for the app, of course, even for a game, but the people who use the app share their email addresses and can opt into your newsletter mailing list. Since people rarely change email addresses, you've just gained a valuable marketing tool you can use over and over again.
Consider an email marketing campaign to thank loyal customers for using your app. Offer a special discount to only your app users. Provide additional apps that do bring in revenue, and offer those as well. There are many ways to reach out to your customers once you've collected their emails and permission to stay in touch with them.
3. Provide an Easier Path
If you can solve a problem for your customers, they'll be much more likely to use your app and remember your brand. Think about the industry you're in and what your clients' biggest "pain point" is. Is there an app that can fix the issue, or at least make the aggravation a bit easier to deal with? That could be the clue you need to build an app and brand it to reflect your company's helpful attitude toward its customers.
Cat offers a mobile app called Cat Inspect that helps customers get rid of the massive amounts of paperwork involved in maintaining heavy equipment. The app helps ensure compliance with regulations, and that maintenance is not only timely, but proper for that particular piece of equipment. The app also includes tips from experts to ensure machine owners keep them running in optimal condition.
4. Collect Data
One of the most powerful aspects of apps is that they collect real-time data on your customers. They can track when a customer comes into your brick-and-mortar store. Apps track any coupons people used, items they searched for and purchases they made. You can create an app that will track nearly any type of information that helps you figure out how to better serve your customers.
5. Push Sales
Do you often need to move seasonal items through your inventory to make way for fresh trends? An app that allows you to feature items on sale or offer coupons for specific items is particularly helpful in helping you move inventory when needed. Customers tend to love a good discount, so adding offers is a big incentive.
Hobby Lobby offers a weekly coupon both on their mobile app and via their website. The advantage of the mobile app is that users can pull up the QR code on their phones and apply the discount without having to print out a coupon. Note that they also feature seasonal and sale items on their app home screen. These change every week as they release new ads that correlate to their print and website advertising. The experience is the same across all devices.
6. Refine Internal Operations
Companies shouldn't only limit app development to consumer-based apps, though. For example, if you run a service-based business, you'll benefit from an app that allows technicians out in the field to update their location or where they are in the process of completing the job at hand. Apps can be useful for internal communication, tracking goals or assigning tasks.
Is an App Worth the Investment?
The cost of developing an app varies. Simpler apps are inexpensive, while more advanced ones require an experienced coder. Factor in how long you'll use the app, the overall cost and how beneficial the overall branding is. Only you can decide if the app is worth the investment, but with the world going more and more mobile, it is definitely something every business should consider.