When should you build a mobile app?

When should you build a mobile app?

Smartphones have not only changed our perception of using ‘thumb impressions’ but have provided the market with a vast scope for advertising and engaging potential customers.

Mobile apps have become a necessity for the business world. It’s no longer a “nice to have” for a company. It’s a “need to have,” generally. If you don’t have one, aren’t you lagging behind the competition?

The number of mobile users around the world should reach around 5.07 billion by the end of 2019. Currently, there are almost 1.6 million Android apps available in Google Play and about 1.5 million in the Apple App store.

Apps increase customer engagement by reducing the waiting period (loading time) consumed by websites — and can also be used offline. They reduce the cost of advertisement and enhance the visibility of a company’s brand.

Building an app may not be a big deal but making an efficient app surely is. Beware snake oil: there are any number of software “solutions: available on the web which promises developing an incredible mobile application in “a few simple steps.” Usually these are lies.

Developing an app is crucial, and one should invest in it if they must, but only after adequate preparation and research — since it is a costly errand and runs some risk.

There are several things to keep in mind before heading towards developing a mobile app:

Target Audience
Apps are built after websites, so existing customers can be approached to determine whether there is a market for your app or not. If your audience is operational on social media, this could be a yes for you. People are visibly active on different social media handles just because these apps analyze what they like and offer them things as per their taste. (That’s essentially how algorithms work.) One should not forget that hundreds of apps are downloaded and deleted on a regular basis. The content of any app is very audience-specific.

You should also be clear about the motive of your app. What are you going to provide? Is it going to grab their attention? How will you improve the services? Customers are impatient; if you supply good, they demand better.

Time and resources
Investing time and money to something that is not valuable for the clients is futile. Apps not only need a superior budget for development, but need to be maintained and updated time-to-time. Cheap apps do not bring in business — and when there is a scope for other pocket-friendly options why go for an app?

Business requirements
Apps are more useful for businesses that require high customer interaction and engagement. If your competitors have an app, and it is performing well (you can check stats via Google and get a general sense), then it might be time to have an app of your own.

An application with no enticing features and unattractive looks cannot help the business. In the absence of attractive features, the app may get downloaded once but will not be used again by the user. If you are providing customers with something fascinating, it is the time to get closer to the clients.

Technical aspects
Which tool should be chosen and with what theme? How much data will your app consume? Is it 3G/4G compatible or not? Will the app be supported by different smartphone brands? How long will it take to load?

Another significant thing to keep in mind is – ‘is your app free or paid’? People like free stuff but apps of both kinds are downloaded considering their utility. If the concept you are providing is unique and you believe that the target audience might be willing to pay for the services, you need to mark the choice accordingly.

The information being provided on the app should be a clear description of all what you have to offer. The representation is as important as the customer review and compels the reader to download the app.

Other than these, you need to appropriately choose the right platform (iOS/Android) for your App., develop a strategy to deal with negative reviews and other issues.

Is that all?


Developing an app may seem like a relatively easy solution to all the marketing troubles but, several others are doing the same. If you have not made a strategic plan to increase the app’s visibility, you might eventually disappear altogether. You cannot straightforwardly build or launch an app randomly. Even the time of launch and platform need to be analyzed beforehand.

The services need to be provided to the right people at the right time and through the right platform.

Overall, an app makes sense when:

– Your product or service requires high levels of interaction with its user such as activities or Games (like Angry Birds) work better with an app.

– Your services are highly personalized and the content is supposed to be regularly used. e.g., language learning apps.

– You have a successfully running website to serve as the base for your app and you need to add value by increasing the size of your database.

– Your idea is of providing offline access to your users even when offline, a mobile app will work better.

– You need to access a user’s information like messages, location, contacts

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Mobile Messaging 2.0

Mobile Messaging 2.0

There has been concern recently about “brand app fatigue,” but messaging apps don’t seem to be suffering from the same problems. Six of the current top 10 global apps are messaging apps, including two owned by Facebook (Messenger and WhatsApp). Messaging apps serve about 1.4 billion people globally — that’s roughly 12-15% of the entire world — and are growing about 12% annually.

As a result, we can add a new title to our current economy. So far, we have monikers such as:

The Knowledge Economy
The Sharing Economy
The App Economy

… how about The Conversational Commerce Economy?

Broadly speaking, conversational commerce is how brands interact with customers through messaging apps that are powered by natural language capabilities. The overall idea is to redefine customer experience around scalable — but still personal — moments.

We’ll run through some examples of brands who are doing a good job with messaging apps, and lessons you can learn from them. But first: a quick note on how messaging apps contrast with one of the other mobile marketing strategies many brands employ, i.e. email.

How Messaging Apps Contrast with Email Marketing

Email marketing can be amazing in terms of return, but there are some notable issues:

Open/click rates in different industries are not strong: For example, per Constant Contact data from last year, new technology services tend to open around 11 percent (slightly more than 1 in 10) and click through only slightly above six percent.
People often have a second email address for marketing campaigns: You may not really be reaching a target directly. This secondary account may have hundreds of messages, and they can easily skim past yours. Or, they only check that account every few weeks.
Email conversations can become disjointed and die in the inbox

That third bullet point speaks to the growing popularity of messaging apps for brands. Messaging apps create a conversation or ongoing dialogue between brand and consumer; this is some of the same psychology around statistics that 90% of text messages are viewed within three minutes. Human beings are social animals, and they respond to immediacy and dialogue.

Now, as for brands who are doing messaging apps right:

Instacart: This summer, TechCrunch noted that Instacart has changed grocery shopping for good. True disruption! The app uses messaging apps to communicate with customers about what’s available relative to their choices, potential solutions or alternate ingredients, etc. On the shopper side of the Instacart equation, messaging apps within Instacart for the shoppers help them move through a store in the most optimal way to pick up certain items (i.e. frozen or hot) last, for better end results for the customer.

1-800-Flowers: This has been a pioneering bot/messenger apps example on Amazon’s Alexa and Facebook Messenger, receiving a large amount of media coverage in the process. Mark Zuckerberg even noted the irony when he first discussed branded bots: “To order from 1-800-Flowers, you never have to call that number again,” he said at the time. Beyond how the bot/app works, here’s the bigger lesson of 1-800-Flowers. They were able to release a beta version on Messenger and Alexa in 90 days because of how they organized internally. They had CEO buy-in (check), had a specific arm of marketing own the process (check), and didn’t involve many people from IT or merchandise to avoid debates around priorities (check). Overall, they treat “conversational commerce” as a new channel — it’s designed to be incremental, as opposed to a major revenue play immediately.

There’s a big lesson in the 1-800-Flowers approach for brands seeking to do more with bots or messenger apps: simplify the process. New research from Stanford has shown that simplicity is one of the great competitive advantages of modern business, in large part as an antidote to the technological complexity many companies struggle with daily. If you want success with messenger apps, then, don’t involve everyone under the sun in your company. Start with a small group and get to beta. Then iterate and test. It’s a huge advantage and you’ll be out in front of the market too.

H&M: Along with brands like Sephora, H&M is popular on Kik, another notable riser in the messenger apps world. Kik is an interesting study — it’s come under some scrutiny for parental safety concerns and was even roasted in a recent 48 Hours episode, but it has shown large popularity with millennials and younger. (Ironically, that’s probably in large part because of the same parental safety concerns.) It has about 300M active users, and they’re primarily from the 24-and-under set. If brands can make shopping easier in that space via messenger apps, it’s a powerful device for their marketing teams.

Messenger apps show how marketing is continuing to evolve. There were traditional methods (tradeshows, direct mail), which ultimately gave way to digital approaches like email, content marketing, and social media. Now, it’s time to consider how you can connect to your audience via conversations in messenger apps, SMS, and your own app, and what’s next: AI and natural language taking even more of a central role.

What other brands have you seen that are doing messenger apps very well?