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The pros and cons of developing mobile apps for business

With the continuing increase in popularity of smart phones and mobile devices giving rise to a new marketing channel, gu9creative reports on the pros and cons of developing mobile Apps for business use.

As more people than ever now own smart phones or use mobile devices for work, keeping in touch and accessing information whilst on the go has now become a matter of course. This growing reliance on mobile devices has attracted a lot of attention from marketers and many companies are now finding ways of taking advantage of this platform as a tool for providing information, generating leads and retaining customers.

Indeed, mobile Apps can almost be considered the ‘new website’ for some companies and many reputable businesses have already successfully launched their own – placing them at the cutting edge of their market, whilst helping them maintain customer loyalty and increase the quality and quantity of the sales leads they generate.

For B2B companies, mobile Apps are becoming increasingly popular as they allow users to accomplish regular business operations more effortlessly, such as checking up on outsourced tasks (project management Apps) or demonstrating new products (catalogue Apps) without the need to sit at a desk or carry a laptop all the time.

For example, its been shown that service providers who offer App versions of their services get better feedback from their target market because the App version is more portable and accessible, appealing to the time poor business professional.

What should a mobile App offer?

One thing an App shouldn’t be is a carbon copy of your company’s website. It’s been found that mobile Apps have a very different user emotion behind them than traditional desktop applications, with the view that they are predominantly there to make things easier, more accessible and simplifying processes whilst on the move.

A successful mobile App therefore needs to solve a problem or fulfil a particular purpose whilst catering for the needs of the end user. Whether it’s to assist sale staff in generating leads and demonstrating products or to help customers to order and purchase products quickly and safely at their own convenience, Apps need to provide a unique touch point opportunity for B2B companies.

But developing an app for your business is not a simple process. It is for the most part expensive and time-consuming; you have to keep it updated with the operating systems of mobile devices, and introduce something new every now and then to keep your clients and potential business leads engaged.

The pros of developing an App:

    • A high percentage of the population use smart phone technology and are app savvy.
    • Apps keep your brand prominent in the market place, ahead of the competition.
    • Apps help increase customer retention and loyalty, as they are always at hand, first port of call.
    • Users tend to spend longer on Apps than on portfolio websites.
    • App technology allows you to demonstrate products and services more creatively, connect with clients, provide more in-depth information and give users a better customer experience.
    • Apps usually load faster than mobile sites.
    • Mobile apps are available offline apart from transactions where users will need to log-in.
    • Their specific use can be targeted to different users – dealers/customers /end-users/ staff.
    • Most Apps are easy to use: training your mobile workforce to use them will take very little time and effort.
    • Apps can be easily downloaded by your B2B sales leads from app stores such as iTunes, Google play, and Facebook’s app store.
    • Once business clients use your App (especially if it is web-based), you can stay connected wherever your clients are. You can glean valuable user generated data from your app that could help you create even more targeted lead generation marketing campaigns in the future.
    • When you compare cost of printing and mailing brochures, catalogue Apps or those specifically intended to demonstrate products/services, make a lot of sense.
    • Environmentally friendly – Apps can create less need for paper transactions or sales literature for example.

The cons of developing an App:

  • A mobile App needs to be made to suit each platform, Android, Windows, iPhone, etc. which can be costly and timely.
  • Mobile Apps require on-going care both as regard to fresh content and technological updates.
  • They are not as simple to optimize as a mobile website.
  • Apps can be expensive – the more functionality they have, the more they cost, and can be hard to update.
  • A mobile app that’s just a smaller version of your website wont work hard enough for you and could even damage the perception of your brand.

In short…

Aside from the cons listed above, if you have a website that’s working hard for you with strong visitor numbers and generating a good crop of leads you might think an App is superfluous to needs. With the mobile browser still the most versatile application around it makes sense to optimise its use when it comes to achieving B2B mobile marketing success – it’s readily available and cheap to access. By making sure your website has responsive design, is suitable across all platforms and displays correctly in different mobile browsers, your customers can have a pleasant mobile experience without the need to download an App first. Additionally, you negate the cost of creating one.

However, without a mobile optimized website the mobile user experience is far from perfect. It can be frustrating and time wasting to use and can be enough to put someone off interacting with your brand. Additionally, the majority of B2B websites tend to act as portfolios for their company – product or service led with very little actual benefit to the customer.

There is a limit to what you can get your website to do and who you can get it to target. An App allows your company to present itself in a different way – offer your customer or end user something more.

Mobile application development is still a relatively new marketing channel for marketers, but this is also why it offers a lot of untapped potential for businesses allowing you to stay front of market and ahead of your competition. With a little creative thinking, focusing on targeting your users needs and solving potential problems, an app can go a long way to improving your business goals.