Does Your Business Need A Mobile App?

Mobile apps present a unique opportunity to engage with your customers while they are on the move but it is important to decide whether or not you actually need a mobile app for your business and understand exactly how you are going to measure your return on investment.

There are already many stories of businesses who have effectively developed mobile apps to engage with their customers. In Australia, Dominos Pizza is by far and away the leader in innovation and while we are certainly talking about a big brand with money to invest in mobile, many of their strategies can be modelled for implementation on a smaller scale (with similar results).

While the video below is from 2011, Think Mobile: Embracing The Digital Revolution is Dominos CEO Don Meij’s presentation from the Google Developer Conference and provides some unique insights into their approach to integrating mobile into their business model:

Developing a mobile app can be costly so you need to ensure that you get it right, the first time in order to deliver ongoing user engagement and downloads.

Below, we have outlined some of the important questions you should ask before deciding to design a mobile app for your business and share some of the keys to successfully developing an app that appeals to your customers and measuring the success of your app and your return on investment (ROI).

Important Questions To Ask Before Designing An App

A mobile app should be more than just an add-on to your business, it should be integrated as a part of your overall mobile marketing strategy.

While an app can be a great engagement medium, it isn’t necessarily the right solution for every business. You need to evaluate your overall business strategy and have a clear understanding of what your customers want when dealing with your company.

Here are some important factors you need to consider as you develop your mobile app strategy and development plan:

How many people are you trying to reach?  If you are trying to reach your maximum available customer base then there are still a large number of people that don’t have smartphones that are capable of running apps. On top of that, those who can run apps on their phones may each have a different type of phone (e.g. iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry) so you need to evaluate how many of your customers (or potential customers) are using these devices and if they are, which platforms they prefer.

Do you need a mobile app or mobile website?  If you are not planning on tailoring your mobile app to your business or your customers then there may be little value in proceeding and a mobile website may deliver much of the functionality you need. There is no sense in building an app just for the sake of doing it, without providing any added value to your customers.

Can you provide fresh content to engage your users?  The most successful mobile apps provide ongoing engagement with their customers that encourages them to come back time and time again. If you are not able to provide new content or ways to bring your customers back again and again then you might not see the returns you expect.

Having a great idea for an application is only a small part of the puzzle. It is important to remember what you are trying to achieve with your app and not just focus on the look and feel. The best apps don’t just look good, they actually solve a problem or make life easier for the mobile consumer.

Keys To Designing An Engaging Consumer App

What actually defines a successful app will differ by business and goals however there are three fundamental ways that apps can appeal to consumers:

  • Make Life Easier – As people become increasingly busier and work more hours they are often turning to technology to ease the burden of the overwhelming number of tasks that they have to accomplish in a single day.
  • Make Life Cheaper – In the current economic climate, cost is everything for many people mobile deals based on geo-location, time of day or interests provide value and drive purchasing.
  • Make Life Fun – With the constant connectedness we have today people appreciate a break from the serious and games present a unique way to add something light and refreshing into your app. You don’t have to develop the next Angry Birds however there are lots of ways to offer consumers a bit of light hearted fun.

Measuring Your Apps Success

There are a variety of ways to measure the success of a mobile app. The total number of downloads is a common measure of success however it often doesn’t tell the whole story and additional metrics that track user engagement are just as critical as the download numbers.

Here are four simple ways you can measure user engagement in a mobile app:

Frequency of visit – This shows how often your app is being used by comparing the number of visits to number of users over time.

Duration of visit – Looks at how much time a users is spending in your app and compares how many pages they are viewing versus the number of visits.

Depth of visit – Simply the amount of time spent in your app

Bounce rate – Shows how many users have only used the app once and never returned.

There are a number of mobile app analytics products on the market and your developer can help you to setup the proper analytics within your app.

Measuring The Cost of a Mobile App

As with most important business projects, the decision to build an app or not comes down to cost. The more complex your app becomes, the more it is going to cost to develop however you can start out by developing the minimum viable product that you need to get your solution to the market and test your assumptions.

You should understand all of the costs going forward and look closely at how the app intends to drive new customers to your business, increase the frequency of visits and purchases from existing customers and how to increase the overall sales and profits for the business without incurring any additional costs.

Mobile apps have the potential to deliver on all of these objectives and deliver a rapid return on investment for your business – but it has to be the right solution and there has to be a defined purpose and objective in order to really succeed.

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