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Digital marketing and customer engagement - should your firm have a mobile app?

2 minute read

Neal Lappe   by Neal Lappe September 30, 2015

There's a coolness factor for having a mobile app. After all, mobile marketing is often part of many inbound marketing plans, and apps are awesome, right? With all the hype about mobile usage and the convenience of mobile apps, you might think every company needs one. Well, think twice about making that investment.

I read an article recently that provided 8 reasons to kill your native mobile app. Don't misunderstand me - I love mobile apps but only if it is something I use frequently throughout the week. My favorites are weather apps, the ESPN app and of course Words-with-Friends. Like many, I haven't downloaded any company (native) apps.

WebStrategies recently conducted a survey specific to how consumers living in the central VA area use the internet, and it appears my app habits are similar to many. Here are a few things we learned from our survey about how consumers in the Richmond VA area use mobile apps. We asked the question, "To what extent do you spend any meaningful time using a company-specific mobile app? Here's what we heard...

  1. Nearly two-thirds of consumers don't engage with a company-specific app with any degree of frequency
  2. Consumers younger than 45 engage with company-specific mobile apps about 20% more than the average consumer
  3. There appears to be no significant difference between app engagement among the sexes
  4. Those higher on the socio-economic ladder (those earning more than $100k/year) are about 35% less likely to engage in a company specific app

The article I referenced earlier listed 8 reasons to kill your "native" (company specific) app, as follows

  1. Mobile app development is too expensive
  2. Customer "churn" - "churn" rate exceeds 50% when a user doesn't open an app more than once in the first 12 hours
  3. Customer acquisition cost too high - combine the high cost of development with the high customer churn rate and you get high acquisition costs
  4. Updates needed frequently - depending on the method in which the app was developed, updates can be complex due to app store submission and approval process
  5. Monetization lags - many companies have found their app development investment hasn't paid off and/or cannibalizes their website
  6. Duplicative to mobile websites - mobile website development has become mainstream and increasingly companies can build mobile websites that are able to tap into device specific capabilities
  7. App discovery is challenging - it can become expensive to promote your app effectively to capture new customers
  8. Use case isn't compelling - many firms jumped on the mobile app wagon early, not really giving much thought to how frequently the average consumer would find value in engagement

When considering the development of a mobile app for your company, we recommend a form of persona research as a means to evaluate app engagement potential and whether the investment will pay off for the firm. Knowing your target customer and developing a compelling use-case for having a mobile app are two necessities before making that investment.

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Neal Lappe leads the WebStrategies team of digital marketing experts. Under his direction, the company has flourished, growing more than 400% since its inception in 2004.

 

Topics: Internet Marketing, Personas, Mobile, Digital Marketing

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