Why your business needs a mobile app and how to develop one

The business case for mobile apps

Why your business needs a mobile app and how to develop one

You have a great product, your website is responsive, so what next? Mobile apps enable you to reach customers wherever they are from the convenience of their phones. 

According to data collected by Biznessapps, nearly half of small businesses have already adopted a mobile app or plan to do so. So why are apps taking the mobile industry by storm and what are the benefits for your business?

Business benefits of mobile apps

1. Geo-marketing

Apps enable you to engage with customers wherever they are. For example you can send push notifications with geo-targeted offers to customers in specific locations. The highly relevant, exclusive nature of these offers generate higher levels of engagement and ultimately lead to more sales. 

2. Loyalty schemes

If someone downloads your app, they are showing an interest in your product and are more likely to respond to offers or discounts. Build a loyalty rewards programme into your app and offer special deals and early bird specials to anyone who downloads it.

3. Re-engagement campaigns

Apps are a great way to run re-engagement ‘we’ve missed you campaigns’ to customers who haven’t ordered for a while. You can also use them to send birthday coupons. Best of all, all these promotions can be automated, saving you valuable time, money and effort.

4. A one-stop-shop for your customers

Apps can serve multiple functions such as playing games, audio, video, news feeds, instant chat and many more. They act as a direct channel that provides the user with all the information they need. Apps are also an easy way to showcase your products and enable customers to browse your services with ease. One-touch payment options facilitate the buying process and will increase sales. 

5. Social share buttons

A well-designed and functional app can help to earn the trust of customers and build brand loyalty. If customers have a good experience with your app, they will be more likely to circulate details with friends and family.

6. Enhance your brand visibility

In today's competitive world, mobile apps are a great way to increase the visibility of your brand. As most of the information is stored in the application itself, it can be used offline, providing users with a faster and easier alternative to web browsing. 

Apps bring many efficiencies to your customers and business. Before embarking upon the journey towards app development however, you should validate your idea to determine there is a need for it first. 

Ways to validate your app idea

Find out if your customers would use an app

This sounds so simple but many companies fail to do it. You need to determine if an app version of your product would offer any benefit over a mobile version. Email a short survey to customers, speak to them in person or post the survey to your website. Find out if the features you plan to develop will be useful to them, and how frequently they would use an app. What could you offer on your app that isn’t available on your website to encourage people to download it?

Research the availability of competitor apps

Search for terms related to your product idea on Google and include the word ‘app’ at the end. This will reveal existing apps in your space. Use Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to identify trends in the number of searches conducted for words and phrases closely associated with your would-be app.

Don’t take keyword trends as gospel though. If you have a unique idea which is designed to disrupt a stagnant industry, such as Uber, your search volume for that industry will be low.

Identify your USP

Run a competitor SWOT analysis to assess the product features that already exist in your marketplace. Use this information to identify your Unique Selling Point (USP) that will set you apart from the competition.

Review competitor customer ratings

Check App Store ratings for competitor apps. Read customer reviews and use this opportunity to identify any issues with competitor apps that can be fixed when you develop your own app. Keep an eye on how frequently they update their apps so you have an idea of how often you should update yours.

Now that you have established that there is a need for your app and what your USP will be, it’s time to think about the development process.

Iterative development with an MVP

You will significantly reduce costs and save time by adopting an iterative process to your app development. Start with a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, and develop features in increments. Test at every stage and use feedback to tweak features, or remove those that offer no benefit or purpose to customers. An MVP approach will help you develop an app that meets user needs, reduce costs and get your app to market faster.

With 91% of adults having their phone within arms’ reach 24/7, mobile apps provide endless opportunities to cost-effectively engage with your audience. They will also help to increase your credibility as a brand at the forefront of technology. Can you afford to lag behind the competition by not having one?

Web Foundry can help with the process of researching and developing app ideas for your business. Get in touch to find out more. 

Author

Joan Lavery on Thursday, 09 March 2017

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