Should your business get an app?

Every business seems to offer an app these days. Some allow users to watch videos or listen to music while others help to monitor heart rates and steps. 

But what exactly is an app? An app is simply short for the word ‘application’ that is downloaded by a user to a mobile (smartphone or tablet) device. The two largest platforms for app distribution are Google Play for iOS users and for Apple products there is the App Store. 

Insurance companies have also got into it with Lemonade for instance allowing users to switch products and ask questions of Maya – the name given to the company’s artificial intelligence bot that it built into its app. 

Aviva also has an app which allows customers to track their driving skills (it monitors a driver’s cornering, acceleration and braking) and track their journeys. It also embraces gamification in that once a driver has clocked up 200 miles they’ll get a score out of 10 based on how well they drove. Depending on the score customers then get awarded a discount of up to 28%. 

According to as of March 2018 there were around 3.6 million apps in Google Play alone. The year before there were 100,000 fewer apps so you can see that many are created every year for a multitude of reasons. 

Many apps are available for free, but some companies do charge for their app services, especially if there’s a premium version. Spotify is a good example of a company that offers a free as well as a paid for service on their app. The free version comes with adverts and fewer functions whereas the premium version allows users more freedom. 

You may be forgiven for thinking that there may be scant reason for people to upgrade if they are already getting something for free. But there’s method to the madness. Companies often offer a free version of their services on an app in order to encourage people to upgrade to the paid for version. 

So, should your company have an app? There’s certainly plenty of reasons why it should, including: 

  1. It can help to resolve customer issues and fulfill their needs – think Lemonade’s Maya which answers questions simply and easily. Having such a tool at hand for your customers (particularly out of office hours) can really come in handy when there’s no one around to answer the phone. 
  2. It can help to strengthen your brand. Most companies and services sport an app – would your company look outdated if it doesn’t have one? Probably! Apps can also generate loyalty to the brand. Through keeping customers engaged (like the Aviva app does with its rewarding points system) it could boost interaction. 
  3. It can provide you with good insight into your customers: Want to know more about your clientele, what their needs are and the burning questions they typically ask? Well, an app can help you with that type of information by providing details of a customer’s demographic and even where they live. Armed with such information your business can make improvements to the products and services on offer. 

There are certainly plenty more reasons to build an app for your business but there’s plenty of downsides to it as well. It can be expensive and difficult to be heard over the ‘din’ because there’s millions of apps available.

The most popular apps used by modern consumers are social network and chat apps so if you go ahead with it, you’ve got to be committed to making it an engaging and exciting experience otherwise there’s a good chance that customers will just lose interest.