With consumers increasingly becoming digital natives, brands are competing for attention and adoption on the fastest growing segment of devices—mobile. The most coveted spots are native mobile apps on a user's device, but this isn't an endeavor for the faint of heart. Here's how to tell if your brand needs a mobile app and how to determine what functionality it should have in order to get downloaded and stay on devices.
There are numerous mar-tech companies out there that will help your brand build its first native mobile app. Some of these companies truly offer something of value, but most are selling pre-built solutions that may not benefit your brand or your customers. Whenever we work with clients to determine if they need an app and what the app should do, we ask one primary question; what value will your app provide your customers? The answer to this question must fall within at least one of these categories:
Will your app provide some sort of functionality that makes your customers' lives easier or more enjoyable? This can come in many forms. One example is the Starbucks app that allows you to pay with their app and track your rewards points. Another example might be providing access to frequently sought information such as movie times, class schedules or availability. These are things that would otherwise require more steps taken or effort on the customer's part that you have now made much easier.
There are certain situations where you can create value for your customers in an app whether it is from saving time or money. For instance, do you find that many of your customers spend time hunting for coupons or deals that you have regularly. Rather forcing them to hunt for the very promotions you use to bring them in the door, put those offers at their fingertips where they can always find them in a retail app. You can also reward customers for having your app by creating a rewards program available only to the app users.
Some of the most popular apps come in the form of games or entertainment. In this case, you are giving users content that interests and engages them. This form of app is very valuable because it can have a very high retention and engagement rate, but it is also a challenging format because the users are constantly expecting new content. If you do not meet expectations continuously, you'll find your app deleted.
One of the most undervalued aspects in today's marketplace is brand experience. Many consumers have come to expect a unique and enjoyable experience that enhances their shopping experience. In fact, many consumers now place experience at the top of their list over more 'stuff.' Understanding your customer base, what they value, how you can improve their engagement with your brand and how they shop your products can take you from brand to brand loyalty.
As long as your app falls in one of these categories, then you have a case for building a native mobile app. Mobile apps do not have to be expensive and you can always add to your app's functionality over time. But you do want to launch with the core functionality that will give users a reason to make the download and retain the app on their device. The best case study is one of our own for a regional retailer where we were able to achieve 468% ROI within ten months. We were able to keep the project lean while generating value for both the user and our client. You can use this case study as a road map for your own app.