need mobile app

Does Your Small Business Need a Mobile App?

By Princess Jones

Mobile apps rule our phones. Both Apple’s and Google’s app stores host millions of apps that users rely on to communicate, get stuff done, and just make their lives better overall. What if your business got into the mix?

A proprietary mobile app for your business can take your company to the next level. But it doesn’t come without its only set of headaches and hurdles. And it all comes down to the question of whether it’s worth it.

Mobile Dependency

The first question to ask is how dependent on mobile are your customers. Apps live in mobile devices — phones, tablets, etc. And while mobile is the fastest growing sector of Internet use, for some industries it just doesn’t make sense.

For instance, if your business is a wedding catering operation, most of your business probably comes through referrals instead of web search. Also, when customers are making orders, they are not likely to do it on a mobile phone. A mobile app doesn’t make a whole lot of sense there.

On the other hand, if you were running a food truck, your customer would be much more likely to be on the go. They’ll probably have their mobile phone in hand, too. So why not capitalize on that by having a mobile app that tells your customers where your truck is going to be that day and allows to them to order ahead? You could even build in a loyalty program that incentivizes repeat business.

Is the Switch Worth It?

How are your customers currently completing the tasks you’d want them to complete with an app? For many businesses, that is through a desktop or mobile Internet experience. You’d be surprised by how attached your customers are to that process. What they are doing is working and switching to your company’s app would be a learning curve in the best cases or inconvenient in the worst cases.

You’re not just asking customers to switch their processes. You’re asking for space on their phones. You’re asking for trust with their information because your app could possibly collect personal information. You must prove to your existing customers that a switch to an app would be worth it. And unless you’re providing a unique, necessary experience, it’s not worth it.

Cost Concerns

Mobile apps aren’t cheap. You’ll need a developer to build the app itself. You may also need separate designers and copywriters to handle the look and wording of the app. Each of these professionals will cost you in time and money. Don’t forget that you get what you pay for. Cut corners to save on the bottom line and you can guarantee that you’ll regret it in the end.

And that’s just to get the app off the ground. Keep in mind that your app will be a living, breathing thing. It will evolve over time as your business needs and development demands do. For example, each time Apple updates its operating systems, you have to be nimble enough to adjust to new requirements and capabilities. What if something breaks in your app? If you’re not able to get it fixed and updated in a reasonable time, how much business will you lose?

The answer to all of these questions will likely require hiring a development team on retainer, which can be a pretty penny during the start-up phase and maybe even more over the years of maintaining the app. Is it worth it? Only you can decide.

For more on the pros and cons of mobile apps, read this post that covers 10 things you need to think about when replacing your website with a mobile app.

Photo credit: Hand holding smarpthone with app icons from ESB Professional/Shutterstock

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Princess Jones
Princess Jones is the evil genius behind P.S. Jones Copy & Design, where she helps food and drink businesses speak the language of their audiences. For more talk about copywriting, design, and the tools to pull them off, follow her on Twitter @imprincessjones.

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