Why Would You Need a Mobile App for Your Brand?
Is your email flooded with people proposing to create a mobile app for your brand too? They are annoying, but they did make me wonder why I would need it, considering I have a small online business in translations. What functions can an app provide that are useful for my customers and prospects? Would those benefits outweigh the costs? In this blog post, I examine what a mobile app can do for your brand if you are an SME.
Most articles I found that explain why a company needs a mobile app are a few years old, say from 2015-2016. That could mean two things. It could mean that by now, we should all know why a company needs a mobile app. It could also mean that it was a phase where many people believed every company needed one but that we have come to realize that a mobile app is not for every company. To be fair, it could also mean something else, but these are the two reasons I could come up with. I found two articles of less than nine months old that I will discuss below so that we at least have some more recent views.
A mobile app for your brand: for every business?
Ernest Hamilton presents “reasons why every business owner needs a mobile app for his/her business.” Every business, even a relatively small and simple one. Ok, let’s dive in!
- Increased business visibility, which promotes growth.
- Increased customer loyalty because of direct communication with customers (in-app purchases, promotions, ads, and notifications).
- A marketing tool to reach target customers as customers can be made aware of promotional offers through push notifications rather than other marketing materials.
- Increased sales.
- 24/7 customer service “at no extra cost.”
- Increased brand awareness because in-app offers and promotions can keep a customer engaged.
- Increased accessibility to customers as a big chunk of the world population are mobile smartphone users.
- Source of data and information about customers preferences and behavioral patterns, which can be used to improve the customers’ experience and boost sales.
I am afraid Hamilton cannot convince me I need a mobile app. He does use statistics in his introduction, but as he did not link to the sources, I cannot check them. That makes me question the reliability of those statistics. Hamilton then lists these reasons above and describes why they are benefits (a longer description than I have summarized here). Unfortunately, these reasons lack statistics. There was one statistic, but again, there was no source. I do not think the article is very objective, clear, and convincing.
Especially the 24/7 customer service “at no extra cost” made me chuckle. I guess I can put the same information that is on my website in my app, but that does not necessarily mean that it is good 24/7 customer service. Many small businesses can only manage customer service during office hours, so customer service during those other hours would come at an extra cost.
A mobile app for your brand: pros and cons
In a recent article, Bytesandminds does something refreshing. It lists the pros and cons of a mobile app for your brand. In the pros list, you will see some familiar things. Unfortunately, statistics or sources to research conducted are absent in this list as well.
- Visibility to your customer 24/7 in a time when smartphone users spend many hours a day on their phone.
- An app can serve multiple purposes, and because you have a direct channel to your customer, you can create or increase customer loyalty with your messages.
- Better functionality, performance, and user experience than with a mobile version of your website. An app can also use “other functions and hardware of the smartphone, such as GPS, camera, microphone, etc.”
- Increased brand awareness because your name, logo, and colors are shown repeatedly.
- A competitive advantage because the number of businesses with a mobile app is still relatively small, so it makes you stand out from the crowd.
A mobile app for your brand: cons
I do not think you will find many articles telling you why you do not need a mobile app. After all, many of these app articles are written or sponsored by people who have a stake in whether you will buy a mobile app or not. So, below is a unique list.
- The initial development costs. If you know the costs and the benefits, you can determine the ROI.
- The need for a development partner. Most SMEs do not possess the know-how of app development. Finding a trustworthy partner can be difficult.
- Once your app is live, you need to market it. Yes, you can use it as a marketing tool, but it should also be a part of your marketing efforts (and budget). And not just for people to download it; you need to keep them interested for repeated use.
Depends on the business
Do not get me wrong. I love apps and use them every day. But when I look at the apps that I have on my smartphone, they are all from big brands. Those big brands have big marketing budgets, and many employees, some of them even specialized in their app. As an SME, it is much harder to tackle an app project and to add an app to the already long list of recurring tasks. True, some startups rely solely on an app, but those business plans have been created around that app idea, probably with people who have expert knowledge.
In practice, my translation agency is a rather flat organization with short lines. I do see advantages of an app, but they are more in the category ‘would be nice to have’ as opposed to ‘essential.’ If I still owned my translation platform, that would be a different discussion. So, to all the articles stating that every business needs a mobile app: no, not every business. It depends. It depends on many variables as well as plans for the future.