There is a lot of excitement being generated with so many businesses being advised they need a phone app. Our advice is don't rush in and believe all you hear and consider carefully the full implications and suitability before doing anything..
There is no doubt that a phone app can be a brilliant and very effective tool for certain businesses but not necessarily for all. It is important to understand the difference between a phone app and a Web-based service. Most importantly, you need to understand the objectives, the communication model and how this phone app will integrate into your overall marketing and business strategies.
A phone app is a piece of software developed as an application to run from your mobile device generally connected to a data server to reference databases. You must also have the means to deliver the application so people may download it to their mobile device such as iTunes or Google shop. This then raises the issue that you will require different code versions of your app to enable to work on the different device types such as iPhone, Android or Google phones and tablets. Lastly, you must understand, if your app is expected to process any kind of secure data such as credit card payments, then that must be done through a Web service as phone app's do not have the capacity to encrypt data as is done through a website (using HTTP S protocol on SSL). If you need to link your phone app to databases in your website or other computer systems then interfaces will need to be put in place. All of a sudden this simple idea is looking a whole lot more complex.
Technology aside, the most critical aspects you really need to consider is your market and your communication strategy – who your market is and how they receive and process information.
Let me suggest right up front, if you don't have or can't build, an active group of followers to use your app, all your efforts may prove to be a waste of time and money. You need to be able to deliver regular "valued" content to your subscribers that is of use to them. This content can be by way of information of interest to them all by way of special offers. There does however need to be a reason to your subscribers to “want” to make regular use of your app.
For instance, the local tyre supplier would not get good value from a phone app as his customers are likely to only purchase a new set of tyres to their car once every two years. They will not be interested in receiving updates on the latest office. A good website utilising other marketing initiatives is a far better approach in this instance.
It is essential that your phone app is seen as just one of the tools in your marketing kitbag. You should review your business and marketing strategies ensuring there is a line across the ease with your phone app.
Do not believe that a phone app will be the magic solution to your marketing and promotion. You should not overlook the value from other initiatives such as your website, your inbound marketing and social media which can be for many a far more effective approach than a phone app.
In the right business with a carefully planned approach, a phone app can be very effective. Consider your options carefully and investigate the full implications of going down this path.
Top Left Designs have identified several good solutions with phone app deployment into businesses that can quite often be delivered without the cost of custom development. If you think a phone app is something your business should be using then contact us and we can discuss your needs and expectations and provide you with advice on whether this is the right approach. Af it is then we would welcome the opportunity of putting a solution to you.
Written by: Greg Tomkins