August 20th, 2013

Testing your Mobile App-titude: Is a Mobile App the Right Solution for Your Business?

In 2013 smartphone sales surpassed feature phone sales for the first time. For marketers and business leaders, this constant connectivity provides great opportunity to place their brands into the hands of consumers.

With that connectivity in mind, one communication solution that businesses consider is a mobile app.

This makes perfect sense, considering the sheer numbers:

  • ClickSoftware predicted that by the end of 2012, smartphone users would have downloaded over 85 billion mobile apps.
  • 2012 data revealed that the average smartphone owner had 41 apps downloaded on their device.

These numbers get marketers very excited about apps – users love downloading them. But digging deeper to investigate usage numbers shines a different perspective on the app market. A 2012 Pew survey showed that 68% of smartphone users only actively used five or fewer apps at least once a week. Although the app market is staggeringly huge, the opportunities for success are slim.

Before you begin developing a mobile app, test your App-titude to determine whether a mobile app is the right strategy:

  1. Does my mobile app target business users?

    Great news – B2B marketers love mobile apps. For specific uses, business-enabling and connection apps have driven great engagement for B2B marketers, and their success will likely flood the market with more competition. Which leads to the next question:
  2. Does my mobile app offer a unique feature outside a native web experience?

    Amidst these millions of app downloads, Mashable called 2013 the Year of Responsive Web Design. For many businesses, optimizing their website through responsive web design and keyword targets can provide the user a rich, customized mobile experience and drive results without a creating a specialized app.
  3. How will I make it easy for users to find my mobile app?

    In stores across platforms, smartphone users have almost one million mobile apps to choose from. With such a competitive environment you must not only be committed to building unique features or function, you must also promote them – and the B2B app space is even more competitive. In a 2013 developer survey, App Promo reports that Discovery and Monetization are the two biggest challenges for developers. Which brings us to:
  4. How will I define success with my mobile app?

    Most apps aren’t profitable. The marketer that expects to get rich off an app should know that the number of free apps doubled in 2013 from 2012. Most developers don’t even earn enough to cover their costs of their app. 12% of apps qualify as “Top Earners” having brought in $50,000 or more in revenue. Top Earners spend an average of $30,000 monthly on marketing their mobile app. Of course, there are many ways to define success aside from revenue. Make sure you have an end goal established and can justify the development costs, especially if you don’t expect the app to pay for itself.

Your answers to these top-level questions may help you determine whether a mobile app is an appropriate tool in your digital strategy. We’re not advocating for the extinction of mobile apps; rather, we’re advocating for smart budget spending and appropriate, useful mobile app executions. Marketers must look behind the numbers of downloads to understand the criteria and commitment to building an app that smartphone users can not only find and download – but that also becomes part of their daily mobile engagement.