Developing a mobile application is the process of creating software specifically for mobile phones or tablets. These applications can be pre-installed onto phones at the manufacturing stage or downloaded by users from a mobile software distribution platform.
Though a mobile app may not be for everyone, they do offer some companies an opportunity to reach a mobile audience.
Why Companies Create a Mobile Applications
Many companies create mobile apps as natural extensions to their business. Here are just some of the reasons why businesses choose to create a mobile app:
Make their services more accessible
Software-as-a-service companies would do well to create a mobile app where their clients can access their products using a mobile device. All the features of the product likely won’t be accessible through an app, but some of the main features could be, thus making it easier for your clients to use your services.
Create a highly interactive loyalty program
The Starbucks card mobile app is a good example of this. Users can check their Starbucks balance and track the Stars they’ve earned to achieve a free drink through the app. And app users can even use their Starbucks mobile app to make purchases! Mobile apps can be an effective way for companies to promote customer engagement and brand loyalty.
Enhance the experience of events and conferences
Companies that hold big events, such as conferences or tradeshows, consider creating an app specifically for that event. The app would be downloaded by event attendees and contain information such as: event schedule, exhibitor information, tradeshow floor plan, venue details and directions, the ability to connect with other attendees, etc.
The event app could be used all year round, even when the event is over. For example, exhibitor information and resources could be housed within the app even after the event has passed. Many companies use this opportunity to bring a digital component to their events and allow attendees to connect with each other through their mobile devices.
A well-designed app is one that is created to: meet a specific need of your customers, whether it’s information driven, entertaining or helps improve productivity; allow users to connect with their friends through the app (social media friendly apps are key); allow your customers to interact with your business through the app; and offer them value for downloading and using your app, such as regular coupons, discounts, rewards, etc.
Here are some of the benefits of mobile apps:
- Can operate completely on the phone or tablet without relying on Internet connectivity
- Can tap into specific phone features, such as contacts, GPS, Bluetooth, accelerometer, etc.
- Can allow for pop-up notification alerts (with permission of course)
- Can offer an interactive user experience
- Can reach a mass market (by appearing in app store listings)
There’s no doubt that an opportunity exists when it comes to businesses creating a mobile app.
Determining Whether You Need an App
Developing a mobile application for your business is definitely an investment of time and resources. So before getting started down this path, it’s important that you determine whether your company needs a mobile app. A common mistake that some companies make is creating an app that is static and only contains brochure-type information. If that’s your mobile goal, then you’d be better off to create a mobile website and start doing some location-based marketing and mobile advertising instead.
The purpose of a mobile app is to connect with your audience, provide value to them by having the app (such as accessing useful information, accessing your services or earning points or rewards of some sort) and give them the ability to contact your company with a swipe and tap. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you need a mobile app:
- Will a mobile app help my customers do business with me?
- Will a mobile app solve a common problem that my customers have? How?
- Will a mobile app help my customers stay engaged with my brand?
- Will my customers share my mobile app? (Or a better question –what type of mobile app should I create that would be considered share-worthy?)
Determine Whom the App is for
If you decide that your company needs a mobile app, the next thing you need to determine is whether your app is for an internal audience or the mass consumer market. If you offer software-as-a-service, your app is likely only appropriate for your client base.
If you were organizing a major event, your app would only be useful to those who attend your event. However, if you were looking to launch an app that promotes customer engagement and loyalty, then your audience would be wider. Further to that point, if you operate a local business, then you will have to target customers within a certain radius.
Narrowing down the target audience of your app will help you determine what type of app you will develop and how to market that app once it’s launched. But if you’ve made it this far in the process, then you likely have a good idea of what type of app you want to create. The next step is to get it developed.
Working with App Developers
Budget will play a key role in how you choose to go about creating your app. But keep in mind that if you want your app created well, then you will need to make a financial investment to have it designed by professionals.