Many of us use mobile apps every day for shopping or food delivery. But does your business or organization need one?

Will a mobile app increase sales or engagement for my organization?

Short answer: Maybe.

Long Answer: We need to look at the Who, What, When, Where, and Why to answer this question.

WHO: Should have a Mobile App?

What types of businesses and organizations can benefit by offering an app? Will they be able to improve service, or increase sales? Common traits include:

  • A membership
  • A geographic or niche audience
  • Repeat customers
  • An ongoing relationship with their audience, customers, members, constituents, or clientele
  • An audience that uses a mobile phone because they don’t have access to a tablet or computer

Examples of these types of businesses and organizations include museums and galleries, office buildings, homeowners associations, cities and counties, public utilities, and economic development organizations targeting a select number of brokers. Also included are manufacturers who want to offer dealers an order portal, and ecommece businesses with loyal customers.

WHAT: Works better on a Mobile App?

What can members, customers, or clients do more easily or faster on a mobile app than on your website?

  • Forms on your website might be very difficult to fill out on a phone or tablet. But, forms can be programmed to work very well with a mobile app.
  • Receive communication through push notifications.
  • View event listings, where your audience wants easy access.
  • Access a podcast feed.
  • Check out social media information and updates.
  • Retreive website information quickly, and at their fingertips.  No administrative hassle of creating the content in two places.

WHEN: Your audience needs quick access to:

Does the audience need to do these tasks or access this information often?

  • your organization’s information
  • forms
  • events
  • updates

If your website is responsive (mobile friendly), you may not need a mobile app. But, if your audience needs to get to your site quickly, looking for it in the browser might take too long.

WHERE: Does your audience need to access this information?

Do your members, customers, clients, or constituents need access when traveling or commuting? Do they have limited access to a computer at home or work?

WHY: Use Cases

Some examples that might help you decide if you need a mobile app.

  • You run a membership organization and your goal this year is retention. Encouraging members to download the Mobile APP and sending important push notifications to them, can increase engagement.
  • Your manufacturing business would like to make it super easy for dealers to order online. Some have computers but others use their phone or tablet when working with customers. Having an APP might make it easier for them to access your information and place an order.
  • As an HOA, office building, or downtown association you need to communicate with residents and let them know about events, new stores or businesses, and closures due to upgrades or construction. You can connect your social media feed, events, and blog to your Mobile APP.
  • Content providers, such as professional associations, nonprofits, and advocacy groups with a mission to educate can benefit from an App if their audience is dedicated and will make the effort to download the App. Some nonprofits such as clinics, and community action agencies provide educational content and their patients/clients are very dedicated.
  • As an ecommerce company selling sweaters for Yorkies, you want to increase repeat orders. Even though your customers are local, if they search on Google for Yorkie Sweaters, your competition can outbid your Google ads. You are worried that your customers will go to another company. With an app, you have a direct connection to your customers. On the app, they can quickly view new products, order, and track shipping, no browser required.
  • Your nonprofit wants to increase applications for programs. Forms on an App can be customized for every easy completion.
Repeat customers need a mobile app

Doesn’t a mobile app cost a lot?  Aren’t they difficult to create and publish?

The world of apps is evolving every day. The more complex your business needs, the more you will need a custom app.

With the advent of content management systems (CMS) for mobile apps, making your own App and updating it is a much more reasonable proposition. This is especially true for small businesses and organizations.

If you’d like to discuss options, and ideas or generally get our help with design, strategy, and implementation, please set up a meeting with us.

About the Author:

I’m Barbara Irias, a principal at Placemaking Group, with a focus on Website strategy and how to use new technology to help businesses grow. Placemaking Group helps many small businesses to achieve their marketing goals through the use of web and digital technology.

If you have a question you’d like to see answered, please email me. Thanks for checking in.

Contact Barbara at 510.519.6402, or connect with me on LinkedIn.