Does my business need an app? Mobile apps are all the rage now, with seemingly every company under the sun developing one. People are spending an increasing amount of time on their phones, so businesses are trying to take advantage by creating mobile applications for their customers.
However, not all these apps succeed due to various reasons, but in some cases it’s because the business isn’t suited to an app or the app wasn’t thought out properly. So, the first step in going into mobile app development is figuring out if your business actually needs an app. Here are five steps to help you do just that.
Establish the Value of an App to Your Business
Developing an app just for the sake of having an app is, basically, like someone buying a red Ferrari he or she can never drive because they live in Antarctica (too cold, no roads), not able to drive the car for legal or health reasons. Okay, the former might be a bit of an extreme comparison, but the idea is that it’s a waste of money and time (well, it may not consume that much time to buy this sports car but you get the point).
You should only develop an app if it will provide true value to your business. If you feel that you can improve customer engagement, or collect valuable data on your customers’ behavior that you can use to improve sales, then it’s a prudent idea to develop an app. But again, it can’t just be any app. You have to design it with the customer in mind because if it doesn’t solve a problem for them, they won’t be interested and you’d have wasted your time.
Will an App Increase Customer Engagement?
The idea of creating a mobile app for any business should be to increase customer engagement by providing a solution that’s an extension of that company’s goods and services in some way. You want people to enjoy interacting with your company and to make it easy for them to do so.
For example, a good app might be one that allows you to provide customer support directly on their phones. Or if you offer various after-sale services, an app allowing customers to order, schedule, or contact you quickly might be a marvelous or strategic option.
Remember, the key to succeeding with a mobile app is to put the customer first. Create an app that solves a problem they have or makes their life easier somehow, and they will love your for it.
Consider Your Target Audience
You might have a tremendous idea for an app, but what if your target audience won’t use it, not because the app isn’t fantastic but simply because they don’t use smartphones or rarely do. For example, if your target market is the senior segment of the population, then an app might be a waste of time.
How Will You Fund It?
You might want a mobile app but if you don’t have the money to create a quality app, you might as well not bother. Insufficient funds will lead to a half-baked result that will do more harm than good to your business’ reputation. You are much better off waiting until your budget permits you to create a quality app that you can be proud of.
Who Will Create the App?
This may go without saying, but it’s such an important point that it deserves a spot on this list: if you don’t have an in-house development team qualified to turn your idea for an app into a functioning product, you need to take the time to thoroughly research your options when hiring app developers.
Naturally, you need to hire developers who have the specific technical knowledge your project requires. For example, if your initial research indicates your app idea is more likely to succeed if you prioritize serving iPhone users, then you need to hire iPhone app development specialists, rather than developers who are more equipped to develop Android apps.
Other factors you need to consider include your budget. You don’t want to hire an unqualified development team just to save some money, but you also want to seek out a team that can explain how they’ll optimize the funds you provide for maximum value.
Can You Maintain the App?
Once the app goes live, you might think your job is over. That’s not the case. Apps need to be maintained. As platforms change, an app will require updates. To maintain customer engagement, new content will have to be created, and so on and so forth. This means that you need to have a system in place to properly maintain your app once it’s gone live.
It’s not just a logistics issue. It’s also a matter of cost. If you plan on monetizing your app, you might be hoping it will generate sufficient cash to cover maintenance costs. However, it’s usually wise to factor in a minimum of six months of maintenance costs in your budget because the last thing you need is for your app to crash because of platform changes before it started to generate some nice revenue for you.
In other words, before you start work on your app, make sure you have the system and the funds to maintain it, or you could be doing your company’s reputation more harm than good. Do not forget about your reputation either!
Case Study: mHealth App Success
Healthcare apps and mHealth apps have significantly grown in popularity in recent years. Thus, many companies who’ve successfully worked with healthcare app developers to release such products offer examples regarding how a business owner might answer these questions.
For example, the Carenade app, which allows users to easily arrange in-home care for their loved ones, has succeeded because it solves a common problem for its target audience. Because the nature of the app naturally involves a degree of monetization, as users need to pay for the care they’re scheduling, its creators also didn’t have to worry about having the funds to maintain it.
Knowing the app already had monetization built into its features likely gave its creators the confidence to move forward when funding its initial development. By partnering with the right healthcare mobile app development specialists, they knew their app had the potential to yield significant returns on their investment as soon as it was released.
That’s just one example. The type of app you create will depend on the nature of your business. However, in general, if you’re asking yourself “Does my business need an app?”, studying how other businesses have approached creating an app can help you better determine why and how your business might go about creating an app for your customers.
If you do choose to create an app, just remember that keeping certain very basic principles in mind can help improve your chances of releasing one that succeeds. If you come up with an idea that offers users genuine value, if you make a plan for monetizing it, and if you hire qualified Android and/or iPhone app developers (assuming you’re planning to release a typical smartphone app), your odds of releasing a successful app will be much greater.
Photo Credit: Sugar Daze
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