“There’s an app for that.” You’ve probably heard that said many times in this digital age. While many businesses have very successful mobile apps, an app doesn’t always make sense for every business. If you’ve thought about building an app for your business, here are a few things to keep in mind. We’ve also included an alternative solution should you find that an app isn’t the route you want to go.
It’s been estimated that nearly three-quarters of Americans check their mobile phones at least once an hour, and about 90% of that time is spent on apps. That is a marketer’s dream! They’re given the ability to constantly connect with your brand and directly engage with you with just a tap on their screen.
Not only is the engagement and brand exposure higher, but sales are growing rapidly through apps. Mobile sales are estimated to have reached $74 billion in 2015, that’s up 32% from 2014. The reason for this is our guests are constantly on the go and need information quickly when they’re ready to buy. Having an app that’s easy to use, with a clear call to action, has made a huge impact to businesses and their bottom lines.
First and foremost, you have to identify the purpose your app will serve for your users. This is typically where businesses take a wrong turn. If you’re just duplicating content that’s available on your website and putting it on an app, people will delete the app right away; not to mention that they will also have a negative perception of your brand and shy away from future things you offer them. Some examples to consider for your app’s purpose are:
- Can they book or buy faster and/or easier?
- Can they track their points/rewards on their loyalty program?
- Are you marketing deals to them via push notifications on their phone that are exclusive to the app users?
Put yourself in the guest’s shoes and ask, “What’s in it for me?” Answering these questions clearly will help map out which direction your app needs to go.
Building an app is no small feat in terms of money or time of dedicated resources. Research conducted by Kinevy indicates that the average cost of building an app is around $270K, with about a year of time from the start of planning up through deployment.
Now, it’s possible that your app concept may not have all the bells and whistles. If you want to see an approximate estimate, here’s a great calculator tool to see where you might end up in terms of your app budget. Keep in mind: once you’ve finished building your app, you’re not necessarily “done”. You will need to stay on top of security updates, design optimization, as well as content updates to keep people using your app in the future (make sure to set aside budget to make those changes down the road).
While your investment will be high initially, there are ways to offset that cost. For example, are you going to have your users buy your app? NOTE: People will want their app for free in most cases. If they have to pay for the app you’re providing, make sure that it is a service and/or information they will exclusively have access to and that it provides enough value for them to justify buying that app. If you want your app to be free, you can allow advertising in your app. This option will require more thought on the user experience (make sure it’s easy to navigate around the ads if the user isn’t interested). Considering either option can help lower the initial cost of the app until your app lifts off and you start to see some ROI on your investment.
The Other Alternative
The mobile app isn’t the end all be all solution if you want to provide a different experience for their users on their mobile devices. It’s always best practice to have a mobile responsive website, but if you’re looking to offer unique content or services that they can’t get anywhere else, you can create a mobile website.
While there are quite a few differences between a mobile app and mobile website, the fundamental difference is that an app is downloaded onto the user’s mobile device, and the content can be accessible in the app with or without internet connectivity. With a mobile website, you will need internet access to see your content as it is viewed in a web browser.
A mobile website can be a cost effective solution compared to a mobile app. For instance, take a look at what La Quinta did, when trying to engage with their guests’ Micro Moments. A Micro Moment (coined by Google) is a moment in your guests’ day-to-day where they quickly research something and potentially act on their research. La Quinta took a big step in optimizing their mobile experience to get information to their potential guests faster, and the results were amazing for their sales.
If you noticed in the video their mobile site, La Quinta made it easy for their users to do research on their hotel, contact the hotel, and book with just a few taps. This makes it a more natural and easy experience for the user, versus having to download a mobile app and then go through the same process.
Whether you choose a mobile app or mobile site, either option can be a great platform to serve your customers with unique content. If you need help considering which direction you want to go, and a provider who can develop both, Graydient Creative has your back. Sign up today for a free consultation and we’ll help you get on the right track.