Laurie Shook

Yikes! All Businesses Need A Mobile App? Wait…

World of Mobile AppWe’ve all heard about the explosion in mobile internet usage. More than half of all Google searches are from mobile devices. And, users spend 90% of their mobile phone time in apps, according to Lance Bachmann in his 2016 Rocks Talk. Yikes! Your business needs a mobile app stat, or you’ll never reach a customer again. Ummm, not so fast.

Will anyone download your app? Although PokemonGo quickly had more than 100 million downloads, 2/3 of all mobile apps have fewer than 1,000 downloads. That still might be OK for your business.

But just because an app gets downloaded, doesn’t mean it gets used. Take a look at the apps on your phone now. Do you use all of them? A quick check of my phone shows that of the 117 apps I’ve downloaded, I rarely or never use about a third of them. Time to clean house!

Mobile App Customer Drivers

So rather than debate the numbers, let’s look at customer and purchase factors that prove in the value of a mobile application.

  • Frequency of Purchase—It’s more worthwhile for a customer to download your app if your product or service is frequently purchased. It’s no surprise that Starbucks, with its daily, coffee-addicted fans is an early pioneer in the mobile app space. Conversely, businesses selling occasional large ticket items are less apt to find value in a mobile app.
  • Simplicity of Purchase—The product or content has to be simplified for the small screen. It’s difficult to have a good customer experience on a mobile app if your product or service is complex. You can risk customer disappointment if you over-simplify the experience. Dunkin Donuts only shows 8 of its 100 varieties of donuts in its mobile app. It annoys me that I can’t order my favorite Bavarian crème donuts from my phone!
  • Customer Convenience—An app can simplify the customer interaction by pre-populating data, sparing the customer from re-entering repetitive information.
  • Loyalty Programs—It’s much easier for customers to scan or access loyalty program data from their smartphone than to carry around all those plastic cards. Plus the app gives the business another way to reach the loyal buyer to promote specials.
  • Mobile Use Cases—If the customer interaction depends on the GPS of their location (ex. find nearest Starbucks), then there is tremendous value in a mobile app. Likewise, business conference producers will find it a necessity to put their programming schedule in a mobile app. This is because most of their attendees can only access mobile content during the event.

Mobile App Business Considerations

There are other factors your business will need to assess in addition to customer drivers.

  • Affordability—Can you afford a mobile app? It’s true that custom app development costs have historically been quite expensive, with enterprise-level apps typically costing more than $100,000 from custom development shops. On the other hand, simple apps can be developed for $3000 to $5000. To figure out which is more relevant for your situation, check out some of the online estimator tools that provide broad-brush estimates. If you have some in-house technical talent, there are also more modular development tools for a Do-It-Yourself approach.
  • Priority—Even if you can afford the development, is it a priority for your organization? Is it the best use of your time and budget?
  • Cost Savings—Perhaps making more of your customer interaction automated will allow your business to save money. Many businesses spend a lot of time scheduling, cancelling and rescheduling appointments. Why not put your calendar online and in a mobile app? Not only will it reduce your administrative costs, it will be more convenient for customers with after-hours schedule changes.

There are many customer and business factors to review to determine if a mobile app makes sense for your business. But it boils down to this: What’s the business problem you are trying to solve for your customer? If the app solves the problem affordably, it probably makes sense to develop it. Want to see what a mobile app could look like if you created one for your product or service? Visit and register an account. You can create a test app for free.

What business mobile apps do you find valuable?

Laurie Shook

Laurie Shook is a marketing director with a passion for social business. As a Social Media Dallas board member, she enjoys bringing speakers and insights to the DFW digital marketing community.

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