Mobile apps - what's all the fuss about?

posted on 17 November 2014 by Laura_Faulds

With more and more people now using mobile apps, have you begun to wonder whether your company should invest in them too? According to statistics from Smart Insights, around 25% of all mobile users worldwide are using a smartphone - that's one billion people! It's one reason why mobile optimised content is becoming not only a priority but a necessity. 

What's more is that in the US, 86% of time spent on a smartphone is spent on an app - not the mobile web, demonstrating the clear power apps are having over smartphone users.

 

Apps statistic one
 
So if you were already thinking about developing a mobile app, it's time to make a decision. Today's customers are fast evolving - they're on the go 24/7 and using mobile platforms like iPhones and tablets to access information, spending an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day on their mobile apps.  Don't be tricked into thinking that apps are only any good for games and social media either - apps are a powerful business tool. You only need to look at the graph below to realise how wide spread apps are:

 

Apps statistic two

 
Learn from the pros

Take a look at Debenhams', Amazon's or easyJet's apps as great examples of successful apps.  These brands knew that investing in well-designed apps would extend their marketing channels and strategy, increase opportunities for sales and repeat purchases, boost brand affinity and permission marketing, as well as deliver better customer service and market visibility.  

 

Debenhams app
 
I can see what's in it for me, but why would my customers use my app?

There are many tangible benefits for your customers to use your apps: for a start they are far easier and faster to access and load than mobile web interfaces, they are more convenient as they can be stored on smartphone homepages, push notifications can be enabled for direct special offers, order updates and customer service responses, directions, contact information and appointments can be made at the touch of a button, and they can even function offline.  Remember that apps are also a great way to gain new customers too!

Ok, but what should my app do?

Apps are different tools to different businesses. For retail or ecommerce businesses, apps are an extensions of websites aimed at driving sales and increasing customer loyalty. Whereas for corporate organisations such as lawyers, brokers or public sector service providers, apps are designed to provide information, resources and even equip users with their own tools such as mortgage and pension calculators or Q&A downloads.  On the other end of the scale you also have mobile enterprise apps, which are entirely purposed for internal organisational use. For example enterprise mobile apps that allow gas engineers to work remotely from their mobiles, improving workforce efficiency.  

What other implications could apps have on my business?

Any app development should be a fundamental part of your sales and marketing strategy, which means it should be at the core of your business. There's no point developing an app just because you think you should have one - you need to know what benefits and return on investment they will deliver. You also need to have the budget to promote your app once it's live or the facilities to transition your workforce to mobile working.

Mobile apps are fast becoming a more cost effective way to reach your target audience - with big brands favouring them over traditional marketing strategies like printed advertisements and flyers. They also return their investment though improved workforce efficiency and reduced administration when developed as enterprise apps - a valuable resource.

However when 'going mobile' with application development, you will often find that your current IT strategy is a major hindrance to innovation and progression. This is because IT projects traditionally need to jump through hoop after hoop to be signed off by various departments, with data needed for mobile application developments shut behind firewalls and layers of enterprise software.  The world of mobile apps is fast paced, prototypes need to be tested and changed based on user feedback, and ideas need to be rolled out quickly. So the real challenge for you is, can you organisation work like this?


The verdict

Whilst the race is on to remain competitive through app development, soon they will become a necessity to survive in our mobile world. Implications of moving forward with apps are far reaching, but sitting on the fence for too long could mean you lose your target audience to someone else willing to fill the void, or your business struggles to keep up with the growing mobile movement.

Find out more about app development.