Article

James Loomstein
James Loomstein 19 April 2017

Does My Business Need an App?

Is there an app for that? And are people asking that about your business? Here's how to find out if building an app for your brand is a profitable idea.

How do I know if my business can profit from an app, and when is the right time to create one?

Honestly? It comes down to this cold hard truth. How likely is it that consumers will use your app?

Having an app is high on every brand’s wish list as they are rapidly becoming what websites were ten years ago. Well, why not? Who doesn’t want to capitalize on the consumers increasing love affair with their smartphones and all they have to offer? Apps allow the brands the ability to offer a highly interactive user experience and an ocean of other proprietary functionalities that amplify the standard web experience.

However, with an increasing upsurge in the trend, the app stores are flooded with low-quality wanna-be apps waiting for consumers to download. Even the ones that users download lay dormant in their mobile phones for weeks and months, until they finally meet the ‘trash.’  You need to understand and determine if you need a well-defined mobile strategy or a mobile app, or both.

Having an effective mobile-friendly strategy that involves an app sounds indispensable in today’s highly increasingly digital ecosystem. So are you struggling with knowing if you should jump into the app pool? Let’s explore what a mobile app can do for your brand and what could make it a poor investment.

The Upside

In today’s digital world, user experience dominates consumer’s behavior and preferences. There’s no denying the fact that apps hold immense brand-building potential. An engaging and interactive app can help you deliver an incredible user experience, which goes a long way toward improving brand loyalty and recognition.

Take Uber for instance. The elite user experience that Uber apps offer has revolutionized the taxi industry, which was previously coasting along, but with minimal innovation. Providing a superior and more convenient experience with the help of an app allowed Uber to win between 50-80% of the transportation industry in cities across America. The same goes for Amazon in the retail sector and Instagram when it comes to social networking.

Apps allow you to create valuable mobile engagement. Push notifications and in-app messaging are strategies that can be extremely effective when done correctly (i.e. nothing spammy).

In-app messaging makes a user return to your app 27% more often and increases engagement by 3x.

The quality of this real-time user interaction appeals to audiences, which is why 50% of app users are opting in to receive messages. Further integrating reward point verification or loyalty programs makes a customer feel like a VIP on the spot.

The consumer today expects to be catered to, and apps allow businesses to offer a highly customized and connected experience.   Apps can provide better insights into each user’s session, and that data gives marketers a holistic view of individual consumer’s journey. Leveraging that data; brands can optimize and drive engagement with more accuracy. At scale, these engagements and subsequent conversions can really add up, without costing you as much as other types of messaging.

The Downside

Up for a pop quiz? Check your phone and see how many apps you have. Now tell me, how many of those apps do you use and how many are just clogging your phone and will soon be uninstalled? Although you likely spend a significant amount of time on your mobile phone using apps, once you remove social media platforms, YouTube, news, utilities, and gaming apps; hardly any of us open any other app all that frequently. Among the unlimited apps available in the app store, only a handful of them can attract and retain users., and they’re competing for a very tiny share of user’s time on their mobile phone.

Take the app Colgate Oral Care Center as an example. It allows the users to find the nearest available dentist and book appointments. Even though Colgate is a popular and recognized brand, the app only achieved downloads in the hundreds. Comparing reviews of a similar app that was successful, it’s easy to see the app from Colgate didn’t solve any consumer problems or create any value or loyalty.

     app-blog-reviews.png

80% of brand apps have less than 1000 downloads, and it’s not just the low downloads that a brand needs to worry about. An unpopular app will often get many negative reviews that can deteriorate a brand’s reputation.

Apps provide an exciting channel for a brand to communicate with their audience. But ask yourself, is it the best platform for your company to interact with its consumers? Developing and marketing an app demands time, effort and investment. If you already have a fully optimized mobile website, what value does the app add to the equation? Is it serving a function that customers actually want?

When is it the right time to consider an app?

Competition in the app market is fierce, and if you really want to capitalize on the benefits of having an app, we suggest that you study your customer’s journey and design your app to enhance it. If you have a creative and innovative idea that addresses your target audience’s pain points and offers utility, then having an app is probably a good idea. For some businesses, a responsive mobile website can be a much more cost-efficient and overall better option of getting found by the customers.

Take inspiration from L’Oréal, the famous skin care, and cosmetics brand. They developed the app “Makeup Genius”. It is a virtual makeup tester that allows customers to try products on themselves and see the effects in real time. This has literally transformed the user’s experience shopping online for cosmetics while solving the issue of unavailability to see the products physically before buying online.

     loreal-make-up-app.jpg

They achieved the #1 lifestyle app spot in the first 4 weeks and it was shared over 500K times. Would the app have been equally successful if L’Oréal had chosen to develop a redundant mobile catalog of products, just so they would have an app? The answer would be most definitely, No.

To stand out in the marketplace, just having an app is not enough!

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