Should You Use a Mobile App to Promote Your Business?
Posted by Adam Clayton at April 30th, 2013
I’ve run into some businesses who want to make a mobile app to promote their business. I’m going to give you a few potential misconceptions which might make you think twice before jumping into building your own app:
Misconception #1: If you build it, they will come.
Building a mobile app doesn’t mean customers are instantly going to flock to your business. From the start, you are just a little fish in a huge pond. Marketing a mobile app can be just as intensive as marketing a website. Unless you are building something that isn’t in the market and can’t be easily copied, I’d recommend spending funds elsewhere. Instead use the $5K-50K, you’d pay to develop an app, on SEO and content for your current website. You’ll be much further off. Use a mobile app as a way to add value to your existing customers.
Misconception #2: Mobile Apps and Mobile Sites. They are the same thing.
This is where it’s crucial to understand the difference. A mobile app is an application that runs on a specific device downloaded from the app store of the device. It may not be available on all devices. An example could be ‘iCloud’ on iPhone which is not available on Android. A mobile site is a website optimized for mobile web browsing across any device; iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and Windows. It doesn’t matter which device you are using the site will, for the most part, work on all of them. Facebook has a regular website and a mobile site. This is where you could shine above your competitors. Mobile web browsing is growing very rapidly as the increase of smartphone users continues to become more and more prevalent. If you have a great website with an awesome mobile site to go with it, you are two steps ahead of the rest. It’s frustrating when you need to do something and the mobile site doesn’t do what the full website does. Many mobile web browsers, although capable, don’t always support regular website browsing perfectly. Another advantage, is it can work with any existing SEO you’ve already done for your regular website. Focus on a mobile site before a mobile app.
Misconception #3: Mobile apps are a great advertising tool.
Yes and no. If you have users and traction, mobile apps can be effectively used in marketing. However, if you are starting out, you are probably better off advertising on someone else’s mobile app than trying to make your own app successful for advertising your business. Someone has already done the heavy lifting to make their app popular. They have gained traction and users, which is the hard part. Choose an app that has users relevant to your target market. Even if you gain nothing more than brand recognition, it’s a step in the right direction. You are already further along than if you had started from scratch, because you didn’t have to spend the energy, time, and money to build a user base. If you already have a large client base in your business, a mobile app should make something easier for them to do in your business. Example: A mobile banking app is only effective if you have people banking at your bank, but it’s a great way to draw and/or keep customers into the business by advertising the convenience of the app itself.
In Closing: Make No Mistake
In no way am I saying you should never build an app exclusively. This is merely to provide some thought processes to go through in promoting your business with mobile and deciding if a mobile app is good for you. If you have an app concept with good feedback from potential users and your app can, somehow, generating it’s own revenue and it’s a better mouse trap. I’d say; “Go for it!” Ultimately, it can then pay for itself instead of being only an expense.