Mobile marketing has gained tremendous momentum, owing to the sheer growth in mobile usage numbers. In the year 2012, rise in mobile device numbers paved way for a 70% growth in mobile traffic. Furthermore, 82% of mobile media time comes from app usage. These statistics are proof enough to demonstrate the power of mobile and the opportunities it presents to businesses who seek to reach mobile users.

While creating a mobile version of your site was a good-to-have thing a few years ago, it is now essential to have a mobile-optimized site. Similarly, creating a dedicated mobile app for your business has its benefits – your business stays ahead of the competitive game and cultivates a relationship with mobile-savvy and tech enthusiast consumers.

Even so, explore the following questions to understand if your business truly requires a mobile app.

#1 Are you trying to reach the smartphone niche?
Today, the number of mobiles in use exceeds the population of users themselves! While this number is huge, close to 65% of smartphone users do not know how to use apps. This leaves a smaller yet significant segment of mobile-savvy users for your app to target.

#2 How does your audience consume ‘mobile’?
It is prudent to identify and analyse the mobile usage patterns of your audience, in order to gauge if your dedicated mobile app can provide value additions. How many of them use smartphones? What are the most frequently downloaded mobile apps? What platforms or operating systems do they prefer?

#3 Is your app going to add incremental value?
While an app can bring interesting engagement features to the table, a mobile-optimized website can present your audience with similar benefits. Ideally, a mobile app needs to extend your brand’s value proposition. A mobile app is a critical part of your marketing automation. It can provide solutions to specific requirements such as order tracking features, coupon redemption schemes, special offers for app users, information download and so on. In some cases, maintaining an App may be much easier than a website. Myntra, the quintessential fashion destination of India, turned completely into an App and has since then stopped serving customers on their website.

#4 Do you have the budget and time?
Creating an interactive mobile app does not come cheap; it is cheaper to have your existing website optimised for mobile usage than to build an app from scratch. Moreover, the app would require continuous updates, updated content development, regular addition of features to stay ahead of competition and keep the interest going. If a native mobile app is forecasted to bring in value for the business, given the cost-benefit trade-off, it makes sense to create a dedicated app. If not, a mobile optimized site should work fine for the time being.

#5 Will your mobile app help you reach your business goals?
Your business goals can be varied, depending upon the life cycle and model of your business. Whatever the current objective may be, your mobile app needs to contribute to the achievement of the overall goals. Will your proposed app generate or boost brand awareness amongst users? Will your app assist in lead generation or encourage repeat orders? Will your app help cut through competitive efforts and give entry for your brand into greener pastures?

If your answer is a strong yes, then a dedicated mobile application for your business can help you. Additionally, a mobile app brings the following benefits to the table –

  • Builds better customer engagement and loyalty – A native mobile app equips your brand with the potential to conduct real-time engagements with your customers, letting you customize your interactions based on location and consumer profile information. This is a great way to generate leads and possibly convert leads into revenue generators. You can present interactive offers and coupons to your mobile app users in order to encourage them to shop more. Integrating social sharing features on your app lets your users share relevant offers and deals with their social lists.
  • Offers a direct marketing channel – A dedicated mobile app serves as an excellent direct marketing channel – you can provide all necessary brand, product and service related information to your users, including special offers and promotional schemes, in real time. The push notifications give you the option of having your users revisit your offers as and when you deem relevant, so that your offers remain fresh in their minds.
  • Grants you a competitive foothold – By being the first in your business domain or one of the firsts to create an interactive app, you are essentially creating a strong foothold for yourself in the competitive sphere and entrenching your business in consumers’ minds as a tech-forward and multi-platform entity.
  • Real time feedback and control – Mobile apps provide real time information on user behaviour and give unfiltered feedback on product usage which can be used by your marketing team and also the top management for innovations and improvements.

While a mobile app is not an absolute necessity today (several businesses work well with just a mobile optimized site), it is prudent to invest early in creating a native mobile app in order to leverage the potential of mobile usage growth – this will help your business stay two steps ahead of competition and connect better with digitally savvy consumers.

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