Does your business need an app? Should you invest in having a specific app for your business that smart phone users can download? Well, that depends. A lot of people ask me and I almost always answer the same way.
But first of all, let’s look at the app infrastructure. If your business had an app you would somehow have to market that to prospective users so you’ve got the overhead of marketing an app along with the overhead of marketing your business in the first place.
Your messaging would have to include reasons someone should download said app and what benefits the user would get out of it. You see national chains like Domino’s Pizza advocating the use of their app for good reason - if someone has the app and the experience is really good then, the next time they want pizza that app is right there calling them.
For a company like Domino’s that could easily represent millions of dollars of incremental business. It not only makes the ordering process easier but also establishes loyalty to the brand.
The company that is my cell phone carrier also has an app. I can pay my bill and make adjustments to my phone plan as well as ordering new phones and all of that but, honestly, I can do the same thing on the mobile version of their website. And there’s the alternative.
In many cases a well-designed mobile-friendly website might be a much better choice than having an app. The other disadvantage of having an app for your business is the sheer cost of developing it. It’s not inexpensive to create a custom app, although there are a lot of services that will create an app for you based on a template.
But a mobile-friendly website may offer you all the advantages, or more, of an app. For example, a super awesome B&B in our area just redesigned their website and there’s a big “book now” button on it. It works really well on the mobile phone but also works really well on a desktop confuser so they only have one resource to market that tells their story.
Recently I built a new website for an art festival where artists can easily book their booths right from a mobile phone or a computer. The logic of this is that, when an artist hears of the festival, they can get right on their phone and book their booth.
If this organization had an app the prospective customer/participant would first have to find that app, download it, and then book their booth space. The number of obstacles to simply getting things done is high enough that I would imagine the “take” rate would be much lower.
At the car show I co-produce each summer we have a mobile-friendly website where someone can very easily book next year’s spot at this year’s show right from a mobile phone.
Having a really good mobile-friendly website, with a store if that’s appropriate, is an idea that may make a lot more sense for the people who read this than investing in, and marketing, an app.
Of course another benefit to a good mobile-friendly website is that you only have to make changes once to the content to be able to reach those on mobile devices and those on more traditional confusers. What makes sense for your business?
And, of course, you know you do still need a website.