Does My Organization Need a Smart Phone App? (Part 2)
August 18, 2011
Now that you have a general idea of what a smart phone app is and how it functions, we wanted to give you a few examples of organizations that do or could benefit from using apps to propel their message and goals forward.
First and foremost, any organization with plans to develop and app must avoid developing only proprietary apps. While Apple started the app craze with their IPhones, they are certainly not the only smart phones in the business. Developing an app exclusively for the iPhone stands to significantly limit your reach. So whether you want to go with native or web apps, be sure you are covering all the smart phone bases. The big three are Apple’s IPhone, Google’s Android (Droid) and RIM’s Blackberry (click here for stats on market share).
Second, if your organization provides a service of any kind, you will benefit from a well-developed smart phone app. The major appeal and advantage of apps is that people can use them on the go. Successful apps can be accessed anywhere at any time and essentially make the user’s life easier. FedEx is a great example of a business that maximized on the app opportunities available, enabling even more customers to utilize their services even faster and easier than ever. The airlines have also cashed in on apps, in fact, the airlines that were late to the game are suffering now, and customers will ultimately gravitate to the quickest and easiest solutions. If a competitor is offering the ease and convenience of using their services via smart phone app, you may find customers will make a switch. In the case of the airlines, it could mean the difference between standing in a long line at an airport kiosk and resolving your last minute cancellation using your phone.
Third, if you own/operate any kind of successful online service, you absolutely must offer that service on smart phone apps. Users have grown quite accustom to the convenience of performing the same tasks on their smart phones as they would on their laptop or desktop computer. At the very least, ensure that your website has a mobile version that makes it easier on customers interacting with your site from a smart phone.
Fourth, unless you plan to start a business based primarily on a smart phone app, don’t go into this thinking that you are going to sell your app. The ROI will be on turning users (of your app) into real life customers. That is why so many of the big name brands (e.g. Target, Disney, Wal-Mart, etc.) do not charge for their apps. Users are more inclined to pay for apps that do something that they can’t do themselves for free. An exception to this is if you already run a subscription based business, like a newspaper or magazine, you will likely not give away everything in your app for free, so you would either want to limit the content included in your app or charge for the app and offer unlimited access/content.
Finally, if you are a non-profit organization, any efforts you put toward developing smart phone apps should be designed with these purposes in mind: awareness, mobilization and fund-raising. Non-profits are unwise to model their smart phone development after mainstream businesses, as the end goals are so vastly different an alternative approach is critical. We would really love to help more non-profits succeed in developing and deploying smart phone apps to help further their missions, so please contact us today so we can begin work on a strategy to help you meet your goals.
Our desire in addressing this topic on the blog is to point out that app development is extremely important and should not be entered into without a great deal of planning and technical guidance. We want to see our customers succeed in their business development and organizational outreach goals, and there is a place for smart phone apps in that process. Let us help you find the most advantageous way to incorporate this new technology into your marketing and communications efforts and achieve maximum return on investment.