To App, or Not to App

Some experts say that the mobile market is emerging quickly, but I would argue that it has already emerged.There is great opportunity for businesses in the mobile market, which should perk the attention of digital content marketers across the globe. Lin Pophal said it best: “the marriage of mobile apps and content marketing does seem like a match made in heaven.” While there is a perfect match, mobile apps are not for everyone. They aren’t always a must-have, rather you must create a mobile strategy, which may or may not include a mobile app.

If done correctly, it can help you develop a competitive advantage over other companies, and it can keep your customers interested and in the loop. Mobile apps can increase brand awareness and recognition, improve customer engagement, and cultivate customer loyalty. Most importantly, they can improve the customer experience. Here’s the catch: you must do it right. There are a number of skeptics, especially when it comes to content marketing. They can be tough to get approved and can be difficult to update. The biggest roadblock for most companies is that apps are expensive.

So how do you know if apps are right for your business? Well, unfortunately, it depends. You have to start by asking the right questions.

What are the needs and wants of your customers (your potential mobile app users)?

Hopefully, the reason you are creating your app is to better serve your customer. Here are a few ways you can serve the customer via an app. First, an app can increase customer loyalty. Rewards programs are made easy, and apps can gather data on customers to see when a reward is due. Customer engagement can increase when you provide customers with a reminder that your business is there. Push notifications can be constant reminders to customers, but they should not be annoying. Determine if the information you are trying to provide your customer with is immediate. Apps are good for products or services delivered daily upon request and needed quickly. The most important reason you should create an app is to enhance customer experience. Remember, there are options other than a mobile app to achieve this. A mobile website might be more practical. But, if after considering your customer’s needs and wants you are leaning toward an app, you must be technically correct.

Do you have the skill and knowledge to build the app, not just a website?

If you do not technically execute the app correctly, you can deter rather than attract customers. Be careful: there is a certain expectation customers have in today’s world in regards to the quality. Customers expect to get products and services conveniently wherever they are and whenever they want it. As mentioned before, creating an app should be all about the customer experience. Bad cross channel and platform integration can ruin all of your attempts to build a customer’s confidence and loyalty to your business. Invest enough to make it quality, otherwise it is worthless. Don’t just shrink your website. Instead, create a new experience. To maintain a seamless customer experience, keep your platforms consistent. Maybe, start by creating just one platform and learn as you go. Finally, don’t overlook testing your app to catch any mistakes or glitches. According to ClickFox, over half of your audience will delete and forget a broken app.

Seems complicated– it is. Hiring consultants may be a good idea because they bring experience and an outside viewpoint. They know how to implement data and how your competitors are implementing data. Regardless, in the first steps, don’t worry about complexity. The focus should continue to be on the customer experience. If you don’t, your app is at high risk of being deleted.

Will you retain the users of your app?

Don’t assume customers will stay just because you created a quality app. You must provide ongoing value so you can avoid getting deleted after just a few uses. Real estate on your customer’s phone or tablet is tough to come by. Eighty-seven percent of app users use fewer than 10 apps a day and 55% use between one and four. Make your app relevant, fun and/or entertaining. Build a relationship with your customer, and as a result, customers will share their positive app experiences with their friends, family, and coworkers. Fifty percent of app users download an app because of a recommendation from a friend. Remember, word of mouth is a powerful tool to get people using your app and continuing to use your app. In addition, give the happy customers a chance to be loud and encourage happy customers to leave a review. A good time to ask for a review is after positive experiences on the app, such as, immediately after a customer makes a purchase or after they receive a coupon or discount.

Your retention all comes down to answering the first question you asked yourself in this blog, “Are you providing the customer what they want and need?” Provide a customer service aspect of your app so that there can be communication between you and your customer. Make your customers feel valued. Keep in mind, a mobile app is a personal platform, so make it personal.

To app, or not to app?

If an app is the way to go for your business, create a balance between the functionality and the way it is created and presented. Value must be woven into the app seamlessly so that customers recognize the value without distractions, such as poor design. Don’t build the app first. Build the solution. In the long run, it could be an investment into the next generation. You may find your app, and therefore your business, being at the fingertips and in the pockets of the majority of your customers more than you can ever be in the office.

Amelia Bohlander – Content Creator

Created in partnership with Furman University.

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