A Guide To Mobile App Development: Does Your Brand Need An App?
“Does a brand really need an app to succeed today?” is a question many companies ask when evaluating mobile strategies. However, there is no simple answer to this question, and for this reason, we’ve created this guide to help you determine if your brand really needs a mobile app to succeed in today’s economy.
An app isn’t just a distribution medium. Using an app correctly creates a communications channel for brands to learn from, adapt to, and better address customer needs while simultaneously meeting business objectives.
Here are a few stats to illustrate the tremendous amount of opportunity for brands looking to enter the mobile app market. As of 2018, there were 2.1 million available apps on the Google Play Store and 2 million apps in Apple’s App Store. From 2016 to the end of 2018, app store consumer spending increased by 75 percent to an impressive $101 billion worldwide, and by 2020, there will be an estimated 194 billion global app downloads.
Websites undoubtedly offer many benefits to strengthen a brand’s customer experience, however, having an online presence alone is no longer sufficient in 2019. Back when websites were new and innovative, people thought online shopping with carts, live chats, newsletter subscriptions, among other features were ingenious. Similar to the growth of web development, apps are no longer a novelty. They’re part of a broader strategy that companies can’t ignore for brand building potential.
Customer Expectations Are Shifting
Customers are demanding convenience. They want instant access to information, the ability to explore options, regardless of where or when. More importantly, they expect their experiences with companies to be extremely relevant to them. If a brand doesn’t include mobile, it’s missing out on significant opportunities to connect, engage, influence, transact and support current and potential customers.
Top 6 Signs Your Brand Needs A Mobile App
The shift to mobile has made many companies realize the need to target customers in a more personalized way. With an effective mobile strategy, brands can interact with customers from any place, at any time. That’s not to say brands should build an app just because customers are spending much time on their smartphones; an app needs to offer value beyond what other platforms (such as your website) offer. Here are six signs you should develop a mobile app for your brand.
1. You get a lot of mobile traffic to your website
This one is obvious. If a brand is receiving a lot of mobile traffic to its website, it’s time to consider mobile app development. Brands need to identify when and where customers are interacting digitally. Are customers visiting your website on the go? A lot of mobile traffic to a website means customers want to engage with brands on their smartphones. As a response, brands need to help customers by offering a personalized, mobile experience.
2. Your customers are a younger demographic
A comScore report indicates that people who fall in the age group of 18 to 24 years of age use more mobile apps than any other group. They are followed closely by 25 to 34 year-olds.
Another study found that almost 50% of millennials have downloaded a shopping app on their phone and over 27% use retail apps shop using apps to take advantage of exclusive offers and discounts. These statistics prove that millennials above all other age groups are looking for mobile experiences.
3. Your company is e-commerce based
Even if brands are closing many sales through an e-commerce website, it’s important to consider mobile shoppers. Don’t just rely on shoppers via your website. A mobile app can boost profitability with specials, push notifications, and so on. Customers demanding loyalty integration, richer shopping experiences, and new ways to engage with retail brands.
4. You have a brick and mortar store
Statistics show that shoppers are already using retail apps during their in-store visits. More than half of shoppers who have retail apps use them while shopping in-store, for reasons like redeeming in-store discounts, finding products, and viewing product ratings and reviews. Leveraging the data collected about customers can help brands personalize the in-app experience while shoppers are in-store, which can not only enhance the experience but streamline the path to purchase and drive in-store sales.
5. You can offer more value beyond your website
The first step in any mobile strategy is understanding what customers want from the brand. Can you provide them with even more value via a mobile app? How can a mobile app address a pain point for them? The more a brand know about its customers, the better it will be at addressing pressing pain points the customer needs solving.
6. Your competitors have a mobile app
If the competition already has an app, it’s time to catch up. It’s not too late to gain that competitive edge. What are your competitors doing well? Where can they improve? Don’t build an app that already exists. Offer customers a unique experience that provides more value than any of the competition.
The Benefits Of Mobile App Development
We all know apps play an essential role in our everyday lives, but how can brands benefit from mobile app development?
1. Enhance the Customer Experience
Building an app all comes down to one overarching goal, and that is to enhance the overall customer experience. Frictionless customer experience is the central goal of any mobile app design, and its functionality needs to align entirely with the company’s core business function.
From a brand’s perspective, a mobile app is more than just a catalog of products. An app offers another channel for customers to interact with the brand. It not only enhances the customer experience but also provides its own, unique brand experience. Properly leveraged, a mobile app can be a great evangelist for brands.
2. Increase Brand Visibility
If customers repeatedly see a brand’s app on their phone when they use it, the brand sticks in their subconscious. However, brand awareness only goes so far. An app needs to provide users with a great deal of value to strengthen customer-brand relationships. Pinpoint a problem customers are facing and offer a mobile app solution that will make their life easier, encouraging them to use the app frequently. For example, apps that offer rewards to their users, or special in-app promotions, nudge users to return and increase conversions. Developing a mobile app will increase brand visibility, but one that offers customers a great deal of value will strengthen a brand’s overall reputation.
3. Boost Customer Engagement
Another way to strengthen a customer-brand relationship is to engage with users in a meaningful and memorable way. Users these days want immediate, personalized communication.
The more aligned the experience is with a user’s needs and preferences, the more likely they are to continue to use the app. Help them engage with content and information with the least amount of effort. Addressing user needs and making content simple to access contributes to the overall user experience. If the user is satisfied with the app experience, it will amount to better ratings, reviews, and users will spread the word, which means more downloads.
4. Gain A Competitive Edge
Building a mobile app also allows brands to stand out amongst the competition. Customers will recognize when brands aim to provide solutions to pressing problems they’re having. Customers notice the brands that are adapting over the ones that aren’t as their needs evolve. Don’t fall behind when the competition is giving customers what they want when they want it.
5. Generate Additional Revenue
Brands looking to boost conversions can benefit from mobile apps. Mobile apps are a great medium to push users further along the buyer journey because they encourage repeat conversions from customers that are on the go. Additionally, you can generate revenue from advertising and app downloads if your app is pay per download.
What Do Mobile Apps Offer That Websites Don’t?
When it comes to mobile apps, users often switch over from a mobile website to the brand’s mobile app due to convenience and the ability to navigate faster. However, mobile apps offer a lot more than responsive websites besides convenience. One of the main reasons why mobile apps provide a richer experience is because of the accessibility of device features. Some include the GPS, the accelerometer, the compass, the list of contacts, and so on. Some others worth mentioning include:
Biometrics: Mobile apps are leveraging more advanced technology that the newest smartphones have to offer. Biometrics such as fingerprint-scanning and retina identification, devices are now able to confirm a users identity, allow them to make purchases, and the list goes on.
Camera functionalities: Many mobile apps take advantage of device cameras so that users can complete tasks such as refilling a prescription, depositing cheques, and so on. A few examples include the Walgreens app and CIBC.
Augmented reality: Augmented reality is top of mind for many companies. With the continuous release of AR integrated apps, there’s no surprise that development of augmented reality will continue to skyrocket. This year, Apple unveiled a game-changer that will help developers build more immersive experiences with the new ARkit 2. AR advancements will transform the way customers interact with brands.
Mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing specific mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS and GPS. However, if the product needs access to a user’s camera or processing power, a mobile app is a much better option.
Is A Mobile-Friendly Website Enough?
There are obvious benefits to having both apps and responsive websites; however, they don’t offer the same user experience. Mobile optimized websites are vital to any company’s success; however, they provide the user with a completely different experience. With responsive design, a website can double as a mobile experience, but the mobile browser limits it. If a brand’s mobile website has browser latency, for example, it may result in a negative brand experience. Research proves that mobile experience plays a huge role in how customers perceive a brand, which inevitably determines how they will interact and engage with it.
Many companies biggest concern is the cost of developing a mobile app. However, the question isn’t so much if building an app is affordable, as it is another medium t generate revenue, but if you can afford to lose customers to competition that is already ahead of the game.
An app is essentially an extension of a brand and a means for companies to further engage with customers. If a website is offering enough value to customers, then an app may not be the best investment. However, customers want hyper-personalized experiences and immediacy. For this reason, the shift in user behaviors over the past decade is an opportunity to expand mobile strategies beyond a mobile-friendly website.