Many companies wonder whether they need a mobile app or not. It's an especially appropriate question if they already have a website properly optimized for mobile use. What value would a mobile app bring that their website can't or isn't currently providing? What type of mobile app is best for them?
First, let's take a look at what value a mobile app can bring that a mobile website just can't deliver. Probably the most obvious is that phones and tablets have certain features that are only accessible to apps and not websites. The list of these features is shrinking but apps that rely heavily on the device's native hardware such as games and augmented reality just wouldn't work on a mobile website. In this case, a mobile app is necessary regardless of other factors.
However, there are several less obvious reasons to have a mobile app as well. Studies have shown that companies with mobile apps enjoy higher customer engagement and more repeat business than companies that don't. One particular aspect of this is push notifications. If used well, push notifications can increase customer engagement, retention and sales. Having a mobile app also creates another channel to acquire customers through. Each platform (iOS, Android, etc.) that a business develops an app for is yet another way to spread brand awareness and gain new customers. Additionally, users are more trusting of companies that have an app, partially because of the additional time and effort it takes to create one.
Of course, there are a few downsides to having a mobile app. First, it will be another piece of technology that must for developed and then maintained. This costs time, money and talent. Thankfully, these costs have gone down in recent years as it has become easier to create mobile apps. If not done properly, it could confuse users by creating a different user experience than they are used to.
Even if a mobile app isn't absolutely necessary, it can still be very beneficial and well worth the investment. In review:
- Certain features are only possible with an app
- User engagement - in site, in mind
- Acquire new users through the app stores
- Push notifications
- Increased brand identity and trust
- Another piece of technology to acquire and maintain
- Possibly competing user experiences
Check back soon for part 2 where we will discuss the different types of mobile apps and their uses.