App development – Best practice #1: Do you really need an app?
It’s been several weeks/month that you are planning to launch your app. You have done a benchmark study, convinced your associates and unlocked a budget… You’re about to take action! First things first thought: have you asked yourself the right questions?
A study published earlier this year revealed impressive figures: in 2017, there’s been a 60% growth in app downloads – globally, the number of app downloads even surpassed 175 billion! It seems that the global “app economy” is extremely healthy, and if you’re about to launch your app, these numbers can make you dizzy… Whether you’re a B2C or B2B company, you probably already have the vision of an application allowing you to build a strong community, build loyalty with your users, or boost your annual turnover by 30%! Beware however: the number of unused applications is growing at the same speed, and in 2016 it was estimated that almost 60% of downloaded apps were only used once.
Mistakes are easy to make!
To avoid throwing money out of the window – and, perhaps even more seriously, wasting your time – with an app that will not meet the expectations of your users/customers, it is imperative to ask some crucial questions up front. And define the application’s “why”.
First off: if you’re thinking of doing an app because you have the opportunity to do so, because the budget is available, and because it seems interesting, just DON’T do it.
However, if you’re here because you deeply think that the development of an app could change your business in depth, optimize your churn, improve your returns… Then, you should seriously consider it. And anyway, if the problem solved by your offer/service/product is closely linked to the implementation of an application and that this channel is the one that seems most suited to your needs, you MUST take action.
Now, concretely, how can an app help you? How can it be consistent with your mission? Each company, start-up or project is built around a particular problem to solve, a specific purpose to complete. This “purpose” can be very diverse, depending on your sector of activity, obviously the project itself, and the values that you defend. If you are not 100% sure that it’s a good idea to launch an app to accompany your offer/service (whether your business is B2B or B2C), read carefully the following steps: 5 essential and concrete questions that you should ask yourself, and which, we hope, will allow you to define the purpose of your app before taking action.
1 – Can setting up an app optimize your offer/service and increase your sales?
This is probably the main purpose of a majority of “brand” apps: facilitate/optimize the customer journey, to make the purchase funnel as clear as possible, without any possible friction for the customer. The design, but especially the UX is a main issue. And it works: the simpler the customer journey, and the more the user will have a quasi-intuitive aptitude which will push him to adopt the usage of the app, until it becomes the one of his habits.
2 – Do you want to personalize your users experience?
Whether internal or external to your business, your users are good at using an app to communicate with you, with your teams, or with each other. Even if they are not experienced techies on the lookout for any push notification that could affect them, the daily-use of an app will allow them to “talk” with you more directly, more personally, and set up more effective channels of communication. As part of your customer service, an app can undoubtedly make a difference, and be the ideal tool to communicate directly and perform customer monitoring. More broadly, it will allow you to show that you are available to the demands and needs of your users.
3 – Do you want to reduce your churn, and upgrade your users loyalty?
A weekly newsletter blasted to your customers isn’t enough? The articles you’re posting on your blog don’t have enough readers? Your social media is weak? It seems that you’re lacking commitment from your community, which is disintegrating rather than strengthening. In that case, it would be wise to opt for an app that allows you to share with your users your latest updates, products, or other information that may interest them and retain them. Obviously, it will be necessary to privilege the quality on the quantity.
Pain-point alert: The use of an app will retain your existing users, and this much more than visiting a website. However, it is rare to discover a product via the download of an app, so it will not be your preferred channel of customer recruitment.
4 – Do you want your brand to become a key actor of your industry?
An app is a billboard within the app store, a space that must be used as an ad, in an intelligent way: it’s up to you to make it attractive and interesting. It’s up to you to ensure that your brand takes advantage of this exhibition to position itself as an innovative and essential player in its sector. It’s said that a user must see a brand twenty times to take into account its existence and recognize it thereafter. Declining your brand as an “app” will give it additional credibility and allow some users to give it their trust, and therefore to adopt its use recurrently.
5- Do your competitor(s) already have their apps – and are you still unsure?
If your competitors already have their app, it’s time to get started! And time to do the same, only better. If you’re a small actor in an industry dominated by giants, take advantage of the agility you have and others don’t, and develop your app following the ‘test and learn’ model, in order not to remain blocked with a product that no one will use. If you have more resources, evaluate the potential losses and clearly define the competing apps. Obviously, and you’re probably far from ignoring it, the app market is trusted by the Big Techs, and their strength makes them the undisputed leaders. Positioning yourself as a challenger to these giants won’t be funny, but you just have to do it: if you don’t try, you’ll never know if it was worth it.
The future looks bright…
When it comes to predicting the future of apps (whether native, hybrid or web – but we’ll get to that anytime soon), the estimates are going well, but one thing is certain: the numbers are high and the predictions are incredibly optimistic… According to some experts, the app market should continue to grow almost exponentially, to reach more than 63 billion euros of turnover in 2020. So, why are you still hesitating?