Why your company should have an app
When starting a business you have to consider many things. In this post we want to help answering the question: why should I have an app? A quick answer could be to meet expectations and that apps just happen to be a hype. We will take a look at some founded reasons why your company will be better of with an app, rather than build a website. This is also true for established companies wanting to boost their business, starting or improving their e-commerce.
Need to use features of the mobile device
Apps have access to features of the mobile device such as camera, gps, contact list, phone calls, gallery, … making the user experience elegant, easy, interactive and fun.
If you would build an app to let users keep track of their expenses, it’s easy to let them take a picture of a ticket. Fun to do, totally interactive, easy and far more elegant than uploading a document.
Giving this ease of use to your users will improve their experience, will make them return to your app and will eventually boost conversion.
Ability to work offline
A big difference between mobile apps and mobile websites is that your app doesn’t require an internet connection to start with. Often data is stored local on the device, partial or total, so your app can offer basic functionality in offline mode. Probably your app also has functionality that really needs the internet, but it’s a good idea to offer some kind of useful offline functionality. An easy one there is your contact information, address, opening hours, previous purchases, …
Users spend more time on Apps
Nowadays everybody has a smartphone. Where 10 years ago this was an item used for communicating via phone and SMS and later checking your mail, now it has become an extra limb to our body. For some people it’s the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do before going to sleep, check their smartphone. We still use it for pure communication using mail, messenger, sms, whatsapp, … we react on notifications, leading us to our favorite apps, we post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, … we take and edit pictures, we handle our bank affairs, we play games, read the newspaper, …
Mobile users spend 86% of their time on mobile apps while only 14% on mobile websites. It is so much easier. So you don’t want to miss out on this market.
Mobile apps offer better personalisation
Before going deeper into this, I want to show the difference between customization and personalization. If you want to book a flight and you’re paying extra to have adjacent seats with large leg room, that is customization. If you’re booking a flight and they already know your preference, and make the adjustments without asking, that is personalization.
So basically, personalization is the next step of customization.
The most important reason why you should personalize your app is because people are expecting it. Personalization can be done based on interest, previous use of your app, past purchases, location, … Personalization allows instant gratification, for instant through specific promotions, birthday wishes, a notification when a favourite item is back in stock.
It is clear that personalization is not easy to implement, you have to know the user before you can act accurate. When auto filling in a form, you don’t want the user having to clear the data and refilling in the correct data. But when done correctly, it makes your app more personalized, intuitive and convenient to use.
Improve your customer service
The days that the only way to buy a product was going to a store, asking info to the vendor and paying at the pay desk are long gone. Now billions of people have a high-power mobile device within reach at all time, the true game-changers in customer service are mobile apps.
Why? Your app isn’t subject to mood swings or off-days, it always reacts the same. Challenge for you is to design your app to give the best possible experience to your customer, over and over again. When making a reservation via your app, you should top the feeling your customer would have when making that reservation via phone.
A second important advantage is that your app is always available to your customers. When he wants to make a reservation after closing time, he can do this immediately, day & night, weekend or not.
So when you really care about customer service (who doesn’t), you should really think about launching your app.
In the beginning email was merely used as a fast tool to communicate in a professional or amicable relation. Today our mailbox is being bombarded by emails wanting to sell, wanting to inform, being of doubtful origin, … Even if you have a true story to tell, chances are your mail won’t be noticed. Email has lost its effectiveness, open rates and more important, click rates have dropped and keep on doing so.
When having an app you have access to a new way of communicating with your (potential) customers. It is less aggressive than mail, only people that have downloaded your app, thus showing interest in your product, will receive these messages.
There are two types of notifications: push notifications and in-app notifications. Both are instant and non-intrusive notifications directly to your app user. In-app notifications are only seen when your user has your app open, while push notifications are received regardless of the activity on the mobile device. These are a good way to trigger your user to go back to your app.
You should keep in mind to not over-notify your user. Otherwise chances are he will delete your app. It’s good practice to search for a good balance.
Make your design independent of browser
If you have ever done the design of a (mobile) website you know that the way it looks very much depends on what device and which browser is used. This is inherent to the use of html and css because this is interpreted by the browser, resulting in a version of the page you had in mind.
Mobile websites also depend on browser features like the back and refresh button and the address bar.
Mobile apps can be designed to use a lot of elaborate functions based on finger movements like tapping, swapping, dragging, pinching. Letting the users use these gestures offers them a natural flow through your app, making is easy for them to explore full functionality.
New stream of conversion
Before starting this topic, first something about the conversion funnel. This describes the path a consumer takes from thinking about your product, searching for it, landing on your website or app and finally making a purchase. In every step of this path, you will have dropouts, depending on what obstacles the consumer encounters. People entering the funnel are called top-funnel-users, people close to making a purchase are called bottom-funnel-users.
An app can be a good new entrance for top-funnel-users, and when treated good, they can become bottom-funnel-users. The techniques to attract top-funnel-users differ very much from the techniques to turn them into bottom-funnel-users.
Brand presence and build recognition
Nowadays people spend a lot of time on their mobile device and they will not always be using your app (you wish), but in their search to another app they might see the icon of your app. You have to look at your icon as a huge branding opportunity as this is what the user will see most. It is a mini-ad for your brand or product. So make your icon noticed, stylish, inviting, …
Even if they might not have noticed your icon, subconsciously users will process the image. The more they see you, the more likely they will buy your product or service. In advertising this is called the ‘effective frequency’: as a rule of thumb, hearing and/or seeing your brand approximately 20 times is what will get you truly noticed.
Apps work faster than websites
Apps are usually faster than mobile websites and they perform actions much faster too. A first reason is that apps normally store their data locally on your device, so data retrieval happens in a blink of an eye. While in case of a mobile website the data, even the startup page, has to be retrieved from the web server, obviously taking more time, furthermore dependant of your data connection and package size.
Create a direct marketing channel
Your app can have many functions:
- informative with general info, prices, product information,
- helpful with a search function, news feeds,
- communicative with booking forms, online reservations, messaging,
- … and much more.
But the greatest benefit of having an app is that all these functions are always available, right at their fingertips, only one click away. Through push notifications you’re getting even closer to a direct interaction with your customer, reminding them of new or ending promotions.
Add value for your customer
When creating an app you also have to wonder why users would download it. This can be done by adding value for your users. Add a loyalty program to your app, let your users access exclusive coupons via the app. As a result more people will download your app, more people will return and your business will grow.
Improve customer engagement
Whether you’re selling chocolates or hair cuts, your customers need a way to contact you. Making it more easy for them to contact you can only increase your business volume. So, implementing a messaging feature in your app, opens new possibilities. Some people are more likely to communicate via text than via the phone. Even make it possible to book or order online!
Stand out from the competition
Apps today are already common, but mostly associated with big names like Starbucks, Facebook, Fitbit, … When you have a small business, be the first in your market or neighborhood to have an app. People will love you for it and appreciate your forward-thinking approach.