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Start-Ups

Should Your Company Have Its Own Mobile App?

By Townes Haas   |    August 16, 2016   |    2:35 PM

Is a Mobile App right for every Business?


With most consumers having access to a smartphone or tablet, many interact with brands they love via a personalized mobile app. But is a mobile app the right fit for every business? Before you rush into investing in the time, resources and expertise that a mobile app requires, first investigate the pros and cons that you need to know as a small business owner. First, it’s true that mobile use is expanding across almost every demographic, and at the core of the mobile revolution is the app, but you have to realize that app development is totally different depending on what platform your audience is using. That means that before you go crazy developing an app, you need to know where the majority of your customers live. Are your small business customers sophisticated technology workers who are all armed with their trusty iPhone? Are they affluent consumers who are always on the best and newest device? Or are your customers working joes buying their lunches and birthday presents on mid-range Android devices or other platforms?

The Pros

There are many ways a small business can benefit from building a mobile app. These benefits include:

1. A mobile app gives you a leg up over the competition. If you have five local competitors and none of them have an app, it might make sense to build one so you can reach the customers they aren’t reaching.

2. An app gives your customers the impression you are modern and relevant.  Very often, a small business that provides its customers with an app is essentially broadcasting that it is in touch with their customer’s needs and desires.

3. It adds a level of interactivity to your service. If you’re not always engaging with customers on social media, an app might be a more direct, controllable way to help. For example, if part of your small business is providing customer support, an app might be a great way to contact customers in a more timely fashion as well as to capture their feedback.

4. It helps your small business capture sales leads. If your small business isn’t dependent on geographic location or walk-in traffic, an app could be a valuable way to boost customers. But you really have to offer a great app. Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play are essentially technology graveyards where “zombie apps” roam lifeless long after their developers have abandoned them. But a straightforward, well-designed app may be an ideal way for your small business to add customers and grow your business to the next level.

The Cons

Now let’s take a look reasons you might want to think twice about building an app.

1. Don’t annoy the customers. If you build an app and the experience of engaging with it is worse than the mobile version of your website, you risk turning off customers old and new. A well-designed app plays to the strengths of the medium, using popular features like push notifications, image capturing and geographic awareness. Many apps miss the sweet spot for capturing customers because they don’t bring any value to the user experience.

2. Your app’s negative feedback is impacting your overall brand. A lot of companies, especially big brand companies, build apps just to prove that they have one. Implementing a small budget, taking shortcuts and hiring poor development firms may get your app online quicker, but if customer feedback on the app turns sour, the feedback will really damage your small business’s reputation in the long run.

3. Building, launching and managing the app may take more resources than your small business currently has. Apps can be expensive to design but many small business owners don’t take into account that they’re also expensive to maintain.

Once you understand the pros and cons of building an app for your small business, you can better evaluate whether you have the resources to build and maintain it, whether it would benefit your customers, and the degree to which an app can benefit your company’s bottom line.