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Can a mobile app really save your business?

Feeling jealous because your company isn’t one of the ‘cool kids’ that has its own mobile app? Don’t let the green-eyed monster nibble at you. Remember that cool kids don’t always succeed. Just look at the The Fonz from Happy Days – he lived with his friend’s Mom and Dad, for goodness sakes. Perhaps a mobile app will bring your small business riches but, equally, misplaced investment in mobile could leave you sleeping on your neighbour’s couch.

Here, guest blogger Jaykishan Panchal of MoveoApps explains some of the super cool benefits of ‘appifying’ your business, but also has some words of caution to offer…

There is hardly anyone who wouldn’t have a clue about what a mobile app is or what a mobile app does. Unless of course, they have been living under the rock for some reason. The growing ownership of smartphones (almost half the world’s populace owns a mobile phone), tablets, and even smartwatches highlights the fact that apps are a necessity.

Sample these statistics sourced from Localytics, which elaborate on how mobile app usage and engagement is on the rise.

Surely, this is incentive enough for businesses – big and small– to get an app developed and reach out to their target audience. Another factor that drives businesses to create apps is the rapid development in mobile technologies. The best hardware and software configuration creates a favorable landscape for businesses to create some of the best apps, which have the potential to become a household name.

Think of all the powerful business brands who have apps in the top 100 of the iTunes store, such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Walmart. These have added huge value to these companies and have bolstered customer engagement massively on a huge scale. But is this the case with all businesses out there? Does your business need an app in the first place just because others are following suit? A look at the following pointers will give you a better perspective.

Why a mobile app makes sense

Apps can be a clear winner when it comes to increasing your brand’s awareness or recognition. Developing an app is one of the easiest ways to handle competition and to tap into the potential of new sales avenues for most of the small businesses out there.

An app can leverage your business’ presence on target users’ phones, which increases brand recall value and brand visibility every time they use the app. Even when they are not using the app, the mere presence on their users’ devices is sufficient. Every single time the users swipe their mobile screen, the app’s icon reminds them of the brand.

 

Starbucks makes great use of its iOS app to tempt customers to engage with its brand.

Yet some small businesses favor a mobile website rather than building a mobile app for branding purposes. To an extent, they are not entirely wrong. However, as opposed to responsive websites, apps are more interactive and guarantee more engagement from targeted segments of users.

Another key benefit of having a mobile app is that it gives you a powerful marketing channel to push your products. By taking advantage of push notifications you can deliver news of promotions or special offers right in front of customers’ eyes, and keep your products at the forefront of their minds.

A mobile app also makes customer communication much more fluid and responsive. You can add messaging functionality to your device, making for an easy and natural way for your customer to get in touch if they have an issue of enquiry.

The secrets of great mobile app design

It is a wrong notion that adding bells and whistles to an app will attract more users. This is because the average user attention span is seconds and only the apps with the best UI and UX will cement a win for businesses.

There are many ways to incorporate changes in your app’s design. Going minimalist with the design that helps users know their way around the apps is one of the ways to ensure this. The app should be intuitive and make the best use of the platform’s features. Here are some tips that will help you understand.

These are some of the important areas that you need to pay attention to before developing an app.

Standing out in a crowd

Developing mobile apps is a common trend nowadays. Companies out there know the benefits associated with apps and are developing them left, right and center. Since any business can now build an app with minimal resources, there are chances that your app will get lost in the crowd of the millions of apps that have their presence on various app stores.

This is nothing to lose sleep over if you work smart. Make an app that serves some purpose or has a unique feature or functionality that can interest the user. In short, your app should make the user sit up and take notice. This may seem easier from a distance, but it is not. Also, even if you do have a fantastic app, you still have to work towards making it visible on the app store search results.

Localization of your app and opting working towards app store optimization are two of the steps that you can take in this direction. These will help enhance your app’s visibility in the app store search results and you can be assured that your app will not be lost in the void. Additionally, you can also promote your app via microsites, on social media channels, or take more traditional marketing routes.

What is the average return on investment on an app?

ROI is one big question that businesses ponder over before they commission the development of various mobile apps. Mobile app development costs vary and your initial investment will depend mainly on how complex the app’s functionalities and features are going to be.

Clearly, the expenses will be more when you use premium tools and hire industry experts to build the app. According to a November 2014 report, an app takes months and sometimes, even more than a year to build. An average of $270,000 is spent per app. Sometimes, the cost ranges from – $37,913 and $171,450, but could climb up to $500,000 or higher. iMason offers a handy mobile app calculator that can give you an idea of how much an application would cost your business based on the kind of features you need.

Measuring the return on your investment is difficult, but there are some clear indicators you can look towards. Enterprise Apps Today lists the three crucial metrics of determining an app’s ROI as being: re-engagement, business goal achievement, and app uninstalls/push opt-outs. On the flipside, it points out that installs/downloads, number of push notifications sent, and negative app reviews are all misleading metrics that you shouldn’t focus on.

You should know though, that the competition is really fierce out there and more often than not, the fate of the returns on the investment is determined by how you market and promote your app.

There are plenty of cost calculators out there, such as this one from iMason, that can give you an idea of how much an app would cost your business.

Developing an app might not always bail you out

Developing an app can be immensely useful and beneficial and yet, it is not ‘the panacea’ for every business. It is a laborious process which involves the investment of a lot of time, money, and efforts, including doing a thorough research about your target audience.

What’s more, the cost of developing an app can never be pre-determined in most cases, with added expenses cropping throughout the app development lifecycle, such as the deployment of an application performance monitoring solution. In some cases, the investments end up being much higher than the returns, rendering futile all the attempts to develop an app in the first place.

Ultimately it’s up to you to investigate and to decide whether your business really does need a mobile app. If you get it right, it could be a key driver of more revenue for your company.

Have you created an app for your business? Did you get the return you were expecting on it? Share your insights on the topic with us in the comments below.

 

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Jaykishan Panchal :Jaykishan Panchal is a content marketer at MoveoApps, an iPhone app development company. He enjoys writing about Technology, marketing & industry trends. He is tech enthusiast and loves to explore new stuff. You can follow him on Twitter @jaypanchal8.