Does you need a business mobile app?

Recently I was involved in bringing a client into the mobile revolution. And we considered a business mobile app. It seems that everyone nowadays has a mobile app for their business. I, however, recommended against a mobile app for the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce. We instead opted for an interactive and user-friendly mobile website.

I think there has to be a great value-add to the consumer to convince them to download an app on their phone. Most smart phones can only hold so many apps. I’m not inclined to open that many apps unless it is something I can’t do on a website. Due to the nature of my business, I utilize social media apps on my phone. I also use a few social gaming apps. I suspect many consumers are like me and are reluctant to add an app to their phone.

Unless there is a compelling reason to use a mobile app, I don’t see the point. Add to that the cost of creating an app, making it compatible across all platforms and then having to maintain the compatibility as mobile operating systems are updated seems very expensive to me.

Here are 3 points to consider before investing in a mobile app for your business:

  1. Compelling reason. Something your app can offer your customers, that they need and will make it easier to do business with you. A good example of this is the Starbucks app which allows users to find the nearest store, reload their card and track their rewards.
  2. Mobile traffic. Look at your site traffic. What percentage of your site visitors are accessing your site on mobile platforms? This will give you an idea of, not only the audience adoption of an app but also what platforms you should focus on in development. For the Chamber, less than 10% of their web traffic was from mobile which tells me the likelihood of adoption of a mobile app is very low.
  3. Is there an ROI? Let’s face it. We are all in business to make money. If there is no return on the investment, then what’s the point? Mobile sites are cheaper to develop and tend to work across all platforms. The development time is also much faster.

If you are still convinced you need a business mobile app, start with a mobile website and install some type of analytics to see how it is used. This can give you valuable data on what to include in your app during the development process.

I can think of few small to mid sized businesses that would need a mobile app.  Whatever you decide for your business, be sure to promote it to your audience. We created a pop up banner for the Chamber that is used at all events where we walk members through how to read the QR code and how to bookmark the mobile site.

Have you considered taking your business mobile? What did you decide? Let me know in the Comments below.