The mobile space is really gaining ground and increasingly companies and individuals are starting to get more traction through this medium. Just take for instance Facebook; it now calls itself a ‘mobile company’.
But is that really a good thing, like the article linked above asks? Is Facebook actually making money off it and are companies that are jumping the bandwagon really getting any traction from mobile apps?
This really is the big question. And the reason why is because most companies feel that it is ‘cool’ or ‘being accepted’ or ‘with it’ to have a mobile app; whether that goes with their overall strategy or not is beside the point.
Not only is it time consuming to get traction on your mobile app, but it is also quite an expensive proposition that may not give you significant returns. The costs do not end with the development of the application. You need to market the app and also maintain it. You would need to constantly update with enhancements based on customer feedback and also to sustain their interest.
So, look before you leap and only hop on to the bandwagon if you feel it will make a significant impact on your company’s performance.
Why should you make an app?
#1 – Customer Engagement
The best thing about the mobile channel is that it gives companies the potential to engage with their customers in real-time, by location and complete with profile information. You need to get your customers to talk to your brand and not the other way round.
This, of course, is one of the most challenging category, but if done right, can help turn those engaged customers into revenue generating ones. Take for instance Kraft’s iFood Assistant. The application offers over 2000 recipes, many of them using Kraft products with shopping lists and interactive deals and coupon features to incentivize shoppers. The app also includes social sharing capabilities allowing consumers to share recipes with friends on social networks.
#2 – Customer Service and Support
Making it easier and more efficient for your customers to get in touch with your company and offering them tools to make their life easier while using your products or services can be a great reason to develop a mobile app.
Digital Federal Credit Union, based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, has launched an app called Mobile PC Deposit that allows members to deposit a check using the iPhone and Android-based smartphones, among other platforms. This makes customers’ lives easier and is a fantastic value add to their service.
Another example is Air Asia, giving customers the ability to ask questions through their smartphone. The iPhone app has reportedly generated two million downloads and the introduction of the app is said to have resulted in a 40% reduction in contact center costs.
#3 – Monetization
One of the most popular means to attract more customers to your business to monetize from is offering coupons. And mobile adds an interesting layer of location-based push notifications. So imagine being the owner of an apparel store in downtown New York with thousands of people in a 1 mile radius of your outlet and if they were to get notified on their mobile phones about your offer with a coupon delivered to them, what is the likelihood of them visiting your store right then?
Target offers mobile coupons and you’ll get money-saving offers on items delivered via text message to your Web-enabled phone with a link to a barcode and discount offers. To redeem, simply show your coupon bar codes to the cashier, who will scan them like a regular coupon.
#4 – Extension of your Product/Service Experience
If you sell your products or services (cloud-based) online, a mobile app may be an option worth considering. What is does is that it gives your customers the mobility to do the same things that they would traditionally have done sitting at their desks.
Many examples for this one where most online shopping companies have extended their offerings to customers who want to shop on the go using their mobile phones. If you’re a service company, you too can capture a larger share of the market such as what Dropbox did.
Whatever is your reason to develop a mobile app, make sure that it blends in with your company’s business plans. And if you really must develop up mobile app, think of creative ways from the above areas that will capture your existing or potential customers’ fancy.
And when you’re ready to develop, look up Arkenea, a service partner to entrepreneurs and small and mid-sized businesses helping them develop their mobile apps. (Disclosure: I’m the co-founder of the company)