Last year May, Google revealed the extent to which mobile interfaces have overtaken desktop in product searches, resulting in nearly all major online e-commerce companies and businesses moving towards mobile sales and marketing strategies. This means businesses who didn’t adjust to a “mobile first” strategy are being left behind… and at a definite competitive disadvantage.
Smartphones are everywhere, thus, mobile applications are a great way to keep consumers engaged and interested in your brand and of course it is vital to have a responsive website (website or pages that are mobile accessible) but the voice of reason is here to tell you that apps for business and commerce uses are not one-size-fits-all nor does every business need one. Now before you start shouting “sacrilege!” the reason why this statement is true is that there are simply so many apps available that many of them get very few downloads or are lost in the sea of the millions of other apps in every other app store.
Does your business need an app?
When deciding whether or not to get an app for your business you should consider these factors before going through the process of developing an app:
Your target audience.
Knowing whom your customers are and what they are looking for is a good way to figure out whether or not an app is necessary and if it is, how complex your app should be. In a world with such diverse ages, genders, occupations and financial situations, it is not surprising that some consumers do not even own smartphones, and if they do they may not use apps. This means that you should evaluate the needs and wants of your consumer base and how beneficial an app would be to them. Surveys, polls, and forums are a great way to find these answers.
App vs. Mobile site
Okay, you now know your consumer needs; the question that needs answering is “Is a mobile site more useful to my customers than an app?” Cross-platform mobile sites that are easy to navigate do offer a more cost effective solution and/or a stepping-stone towards mobile app development in the future.
Do you have the resources?
A mobile app is more work than you’d first think- you need enough bandwidth to maintain, refresh, and update (of the platform and app) on a regular basis in order to be successful. You need to be able to set aside enough time and money to develop new content and maintain functionality of your app and even basic apps can cost anywhere between $1000 – $4000 to develop depending on the features offered, so be sure you are up to the task
If you are, however, looking to use Apps to improve the organization, connectivity, and visibility of your business consider a useful business management app like Evernote (to store, organize and share text, photos, and voice notes), Google Drive and LocalVox (a web marketing app that allows brick and mortar businesses to build their brands online).
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.