This is a guest post written by Ed Johnson, tech entrepreneur and co-founder of social networking start-up Tempry.
There are now more than one million apps available on Apple’s App Store, with more than 60 billion app downloads onto Apple devices, since the concept of apps was created.
These figures are staggering- and they don’t even take into account Android’s figures. For a lot of businesses, having a smartphone app might seem like an extravagant expense, and, for some, it might be. However, for a lot of businesses now, it’s becoming more and more important to show strength and ability in the digital age.
Whether your business is targeted at consumers or fellow businesses, there are a lot of advantages to having an app, but there are also challenges to overcome…
Advantage: It can increase your sales
For businesses selling products to consumers, it’s a pretty quick-win to have an app on the app store.
There are two primary advantages to this and one of them is one you may well have overlooked. The first advantage is quite obvious – it’s highly likely to generate additional sales. By having another space in which to sell products, you are reaching a wider audience and making it easier for your existing consumers to transact with you.
Challenge: It requires investment
Perhaps unsurprisingly, building a smartphone app isn’t usually cheap.
There are a few helpful app generators out there, but the functionality is rather limited and realistically they probably won’t help your brand too much.
If you are serious about creating an app for your company then it’s probably worth putting aside a budget of between £2,000 and £10,000 (depending on the complexity of it). If you’re a large corporate then an app could be considerably more than that. But, for a smaller company with a more straightforward app concept, such as invoice and account billing or an online shop, you can certainly start with a smaller budget. A good place to find developers is Freelancer.com.
Advantage: It opens another marketing channel
The second, less considered advantage is that it opens up another channel for you to speak with your customers – even if they are yet to purchase with you.
The days of email marketing’s strengths are dwindling. While email is still a powerful marketing channel and has a far higher engagement and conversion rate than a lot of other marketing channels, ‘push notification’ falls into a similar and less saturated category. With push notification capabilities, then you can send a direct message directly to a customer’s smartphone or tablet in a targeted and desirable manner.
So, if you are going to build an app for your business, make sure you consider push notifications.
Challenge: It takes time and resource
Depending on what your smartphone app offers your customers, it’s likely that it will take planning time and resource to manage the app.
For more basic apps, this may not be a consideration, but for any serious app, it’s likely that you’ll have bugs and require updates to fix and resolve them. Having support mechanisms in place to assist your customers with any queries they may have around the app is important to consider too. Ensuring the app is clear and concise is one way to reduce this.
Advantage: It gives your business the edge
Whether your app allows users to view, download and pay their monthly invoice, check their service usage, purchase your products or improve customer service experiences, it will always give you an extra feather in your cap.
Whilst more and more businesses are creating apps, there are still a lot of businesses out there that don’t offer their customers one. If you have an app, then the chances are that you’re ahead of the competition (or at least neck and neck with them) in the race to be at the forefront of technology.
Challenge: Finding a reliable developer
There are hundreds of thousands of smartphone app developers out there. Some are highly skilled and extremely talented, others are simply not. Finding a reliable developer who sticks to timelines, isn’t too expensive and knows what they’re doing is a challenge.
To give you some idea of costs, there are developers who will charge £10 per hour and others who will charge £80 per hour. Price is no guarantee of quality or efficiency but it is somewhere to start. Make sure you ask any prospective developers for examples of apps they’ve previously built, to ensure they know what they’re doing. User profiles on Freelancer.com have feedback too, so you can see what past clients have said about a developer’s work, which is one indication of how good they may be.
Overall, building an app, while complex and challenging at times, is certainly something I would recommend exploring, if your business feels there is a need for it and you can afford it with relative ease. If you have tight budget constraints then it probably shouldn’t be priority number one.
Be careful not to create an app just for the sake of creating an app: understanding why it may benefit your business and your customers is important. If you feel it would, then go for it.
About Ed Johnson
Ed Johnson is co-founder of Tempry.
Ed has an informed insight into effective online growth, digital marketing communication strategy, web and app development. He has managed and worked on marketing campaigns for the likes of Zoopla, John Lewis, easyJet, HSBC and many more.
He now spends his time working with technology start-ups and dot-com companies and is developing his own social networking start-up Tempry, launching in May 2017.