How Much Does It Cost To Build An App: Other Costs To Consider
We’ve written at length about how much it costs to develop an app, and frequently, we touch upon the factors that impact the costs of mobile app development such as:
- The project scope, platforms & devices, back-end services, and technologies
- The type of app development firm
- Other factors associated with development
Now that we’ve tackled the question “how much does it cost to make an app,” it’s important to talk about other cost considerations that many companies often don’t account for throughout the process. Think of the following questions to help you get an understanding of other costs involved with mobile app development:
- How will you attract users to the app?
- Who will be involved in managing the app within your organization?
- How will the app be maintained and updated?
There is a wide range of things you should be thinking about when you are budgeting for your mobile app that is instrumental for sustainable, long-term success. This post will break down the costs associated with app development that you should not be overlooking.
Three Cost Factors to Consider Beyond Mobile App Development
1. Marketing Your App
When a mobile app fails, it is typically because mistakes are made in the market strategy behind the app. Sometimes failure can be attributed to a lack of product definition or market viability, a lack of a clear business objectives, monetization, or marketing strategy, or simply because there isn’t a strong product release plan set in place.
Marketing is an essential part of driving user acquisition and mobile app growth. The app market is highly competitive, and like any other product or service, your mobile app will need promotion for it to experience any degree of success. All too often, the marketing function is left as an afterthought. Think of your marketing involvement as an important part of the product lifecycle, not just a promotional tactic.
Running an awareness campaign before your product launch should be a part of your marketing strategy. Marketing is an ongoing process that should start well before the launch of your app and continue far past the original release date. Some effective pre-launch marketing activities you will want to consider are:
- Teasers and early sign-up pages
- Press kits & collateral
- Leveraging social media channels
- Paid advertising
- Websites or landing pages
- Blog content
The steps you take to prepare for your app launch may have the greatest effect on its ultimate success, and getting your marketing department involved early in the process is vital.
Mobile app marketing budget depends on the market you want to enter and your target audience. Your app can be serving as an extension of your brand identity, or it could be an m-commerce app, selling goods. The goals for each type of app are different, so the price of marketing will vary.
Any discussion about the cost of developing an app needs to include marketing. Driving downloads, user acquisition, and user retention require a considerable marketing budget. Once you establish what your goals are, you need to ensure that you have a marketing budget that will help you follow through and achieve them.
2. Team & Cross-Department Involvement
There are many people involved in the app development process. Much like there is diversity in the technical components needed for an app to function, there is a need for involvement across internal teams for the app to be successful. Development is only one part of the larger picture.
“There’s Design, UI/UX, QA that are validating the application, there are Project Managers and Architects, so it takes a village to build a great mobile app. It’s not just a couple of people working in silos. Building a great mobile app takes expertise in many different areas from partners that do the marketing, to partners that build a great mobile app.”
– Sanjay Malhotra, CTO of Clearbridge Mobile
Depending on the size of your organization and the business objective you are trying to achieve with your mobile app, you will need to account for the internal efforts involved with supporting and sustaining your app. Typically business functions such as IT, engineering, marketing, sales are instrumental to success.
IT and engineering play a key role in development, integration with other services, and ensuring any changes to internal systems function correctly. Even if you have chosen an external mobile app development partner, there will be people on your own team who will need to be involved.
Marketing, for the reasons mentioned earlier, also needed to drive user acquisition and growth, and for other tasks, depending on the type of app you’re developing. If you plan on doing any in-app marketing or promotions, marketing will be a large component in the strategy.
While the level of involvement of each department will vary depending on the nature of the mobile app, its goals, and its features, cross-departmental effort, and coordination are key to the success of your project. Even though the involvement will vary significantly from an enterprise company to a startup, cross-department involvement is always required.
3. Maintenance, Upgrades, and Continuous Delivery
The job isn’t done after the initial launch, in fact, it’s just beginning. At the very least, you need to plan for the cost of maintaining your app to fix bugs and meet system upgrade requirements that are rolled out. You need to have a long-term product vision that accounts for user demands, roll out product improvements or new features, and remain relevant in an increasingly competitive market. Sustained success requires work long after the app is developed. Many companies don’t account for this in their initial budgeting plans; however, it’s critical that you forecast the six month, 1-year, and even 2-year costs associated with maintaining and improving your product.
Continuous delivery is an important part of sustained success for any mobile app. With user demands ever-evolving and mobile technology advancing faster than ever, you can’t expect to retain and delight users with a “set it and forget it” mentality.
Having a broader mobile vision and a continuous delivery approach to development allows you to not only meet but exceed customer demands; drive the direction of your product; monitor, assess and improve app performance; and ultimately remain competitive in the mobile app market. A longer-term strategy with a product roadmap with a phased approach, roll-out plan for new features, etc. will give you a good idea of the effort and resources required down the road.
Read about the 5 Major Mobile App Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid where Sanjay Malhotra breaks down the most common budgeting oversights such as:
- Ignoring backend development/infrastructure needs
- Misunderstanding the vast differences between apps and websites
- Failing to consider the cross-department involvement required for delivery and ongoing success
- Not enough marketing budget to promote and educate customers about the mobile app
- No plan for updates to meet customer demands after the initial launch
In this post, he discusses each of the mistakes listed above in detail and why you need to address each area when creating a mobile app budgeting plan.
Keep in mind that the mobile app development cost factors listed in this article will not be upfront costs. When determining a budget for your mobile app, you want to prepare a framework that will allow you to sustain and improve your product in alignment with your overall mobile strategy. By doing this, you’ll avoid any oversights, mitigating risks, accurately evaluating ROI, accounting for flexibility to optimize and improve your app and mobile strategy as the product matures over time.
Mobile app development is an investment and one that will pay off if done correctly. Which is why it’s crucial to choose an app development partner that has the expertise needed to help you meet your business objectives.