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How to Decide If Your Business Needs a Mobile App

Written by Shannon R

Businessman using a mobile app by tapping a smartphone
With the evolution of the digital business landscape, mobile devices continue to redefine how people search for information, communicate, and handle tasks in everyday life. So, it comes as no surprise that the need to meet growing expectations has left many businesses thinking about introducing new mobile offerings that let customers conveniently engage and do business with them.

According to App Annie, an analytical firm that tracks metrics for apps, Google Play hosts 3.5 million apps, while Apple's App Store serves up over 2.2 million. With so many of today's consumers turning to their smartphones and tablets for everything from shopping and instant messaging to banking and ride hailing, many marketers recognize that it’s critical to deliver a attractive mobile customer experience. And it seems like almost every business has at least one mobile application under their belt.

Unfortunately, many companies and brands still struggle with their efforts to provide user-friendly functionality to consumers on the go. Even so, the motivation for businesses—even small, local-only outfits—to develop their own mobile app is growing.

TechCrunch estimates that U.S. consumers spend some five hours a day on mobile devices, and 92% of that time is dedicated to using apps. But there is another side to the coin. Stats from mobile engagement platform Localytics reveals that 23% of apps are used only once, 90 days after install an app, 80% of consumers never launch them again.

So, how do you know if developing a mobile app is right for your business? Here are six things to consider before making the leap:

The Competition. When evaluating whether or not you build an app, it only makes sense to conduct some market research to so if your competitors have apps. If they do, take a look at the stats in relevant app stores to get an idea of the number of downloads that have been made and how well received the app was among users. Scan customer reviews for insight into the reputation your competitor's app has. If it has a good one, you could be left in the dust if you don't come up with something similar or better.

Problem Solving. Some of the best mobile apps are those that provide solutions to problems. If your app doesn't improve the functionality or convenience of your website, chances are it will have a hard time winning over your consumers. So, it pays to think in terms of how your mobile app could reduce the pain points your customers face. Anyone who has had to call a taxicab and hope they show up in a timely manner was probably awe-struck by how fast an Uber driver turned up. Shoot to impress in a similar sort of way when thinking about potential features for your own app.

Conversions. One major reason why desktop eCommerce sales conversion rates still dominates mobile is how difficult it is for users to input simple information like billing and shipping addresses on a mobile device. If you're in a business such as eCommerce that depends on repeat customers, eliminating these types of headaches for customers could boost sales.

Customer Loyalty. If you happen to have a loyalty program for customers, an app means being able to get rid of plastic cards forever. It would also make it simple to provide rewards like special discounts, promo code offers, and other incentives.

Your Website. Perhaps the most important thing to consider before settling on developing a mobile app, is determining how well your business' site performs on mobile devices. If you don't have a responsive, mobile-optimized website that provides a good user experience, it would be a good idea to consider upgrading to mobile-friendly site before setting your sights on a mobile app.

Conclusion

An app that endears you to your customers can be very good for your bottom line. So, determining how a mobile app could add value of your business is crucial. It's not as simple as build it and they will come. But by focusing on delivering tangible benefits and perks to your customers, the financial investment and many hours of planning could pay off significantly in the long run.

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