WEB & TECH / NOV. 07, 2014
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Does Your Business Really Need an App?

Mobile apps have become all the rage in recent years. It’s reached a point where 52% of all local searches are performed from a mobile device. Many small business owners are looking at this and wondering how they can take advantage. Your business may or may not need an app. Only you can determine that. In this article we’re going to take a look at some of the aspects of this issue.                                               

Mobile Apps and Mobile Sites

Don’t use the terms ‘mobile apps’ and ‘mobile sites’ interchangeably. They’re two entirely different things. A mobile site is simply a website that has been made compatible with mobile devices. This is known as responsive web design. An app, on the other hand, is a piece of software downloaded to a mobile device’s hard drive. Every business needs a mobile site, but it doesn’t mean they also need an app.

The Marketing Machine

To find out whether you need an app you have to look at the functions that an app provides. Your app needs to provide something that fulfills a need for your customer. It can also act as a marketing machine at the same time, which is partly why business owners think about it in the first place.

Never try to force an app onto someone. If the app doesn’t fulfill a real need, don’t get one. Yes, it may have marketing benefits, but you won’t win any plaudits if your app is next to useless.

Making App Sense

Can you immediately think of an app idea that works with your business niche?

If the answer is no the chances are you’re trying to force the issue. Most apps for small businesses are completely unnecessary. They provide nothing that you can’t do with a land-based store or a mobile website. Your app needs to expand your business, not merely provide a few bells and whistles.

Your app must have context and tie in to your company. Its functionality should never be confused or muddled. Making an app for the sake of making an app can turn into an expensive lesson for your company.

Company and User Need

Apps are often successful when they truly take advantage of the unique features brought on by tablets and smartphones. Look at banking apps as an example. They use things like GPS functionality and camera features for capturing images of checks and receipts. This is a function you can’t find with anything else, therefore you have a case to make an app.

At no point should you be targeting app users as a separate audience. If the function you’re trying to make into an app is available on your mobile website, you don’t need an app. If you aren’t using the uniqueness of a mobile device, there’s no case for making an app.

Advertising

You may want to believe that the marketing benefits make an app an essential piece of equipment, but they don’t. Ads on an app are only relevant if customers are using the app en masse. If your app is universally known as useless, you won’t gain anything from advertising through this channel. All you’ll get is a lot of wasted time and a lot of wasted money.

As can clearly be seen while mobile apps might be all the rage, unless you are truly taking advantage of the features it provides then it is just a waste of time, effort and money.


Image: iStock

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