Yes, they make an app for that … but do you?
These days, businesses all over the world are developing mobile apps to help connect with current and potential customers. By developing an app, a company can provide functionality and/or entertainment that goes above and beyond what's possible with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. In a lot of ways, the sky's the limit when it comes to what a mobile app can offer, but first you need to determine if your business actually needs one.
You can make this decision by first asking yourself these four questions:
Question #1: What Will Be the App's Purpose?
The first thing you're going to need to decide is whether an app would serve an purpose within your company. Are you wanting to develop one that will help customers locate something that you offer? Would you like to provide entertainment such as a mobile game that is linked to your products or services? Do you work in the food industry and wish to develop an app with health tips or whatnot? Once you figure out what you want the app to achieve, you can begin designing it. And if you can't explain what a proposed app will do, perhaps one is not needed.
Question #2: Will Your App Complement Your Website?
More often than not, an app is not an independent entity. Rather, it works with a company's website in a complementary fashion. This is the best way to utilize a mobile app because in addition to providing functionality to your current customers and potential ones, you're tying everything to your website. Of course, there is a very logical reason why you would want your app to complement your website — your database. If your app is populated by information from your website, it's a lot easier to design than building it as a standalone application. So if you are thinking about developing an app that complements your website, you can definitely stick that in the "pro" column.
Question #3: Will It Replace Your Website?
We're sticking this question in here because we need to emphasize the importance of completely ignoring this idea. In other words, even though some small businesses have attempted to replace their website with a mobile app as a cost-saving measure, this is typically a bad idea. Apps are awesome, but having a website for your business is absolutely essential these days. Plus, your website and app can work together to gain followers for each, so removing that connection would be shooting yourself in the foot. Our advice is to avoid replacement at all costs.
Question #4: What is Your Long-Term Mobile Strategy?
This will determine not only if a mobile app would be good for your business, but what type of app you should develop. Some apps are tied to short marketing campaigns rather than being tied into the company overall. Creating an app that is meant for the long-term is definitely the better strategy as it will become an intrinsic part of everything your company does, which can make it an indispensable tool. On the flip side, a short-lived app will only function as a small piece of your marketing strategy, which isn't nearly as effective.