Do You Need an App?
If you take a look at the average person’s cellphone, you’ll no doubt see pages of apps. In 2022, there are a wide variety of apps for every possible activity–from gaming to social media to fitness, and everything in between.
85% of Americans own a smartphone, making up a huge proportion of the 200 billion estimated annual app downloads worldwide.
Because of this trend, more businesses consider building an app in order to connect with their audience more easily, with site after site prompting you to download an app to continue. Commercially, this makes sense. Getting a customer into the closed ecosystem of an app means that you have a lot more control over their attention – and their dollar.
But just because users are spending more time on cellphones doesn’t mean that building an app is right for your business.
In this post, we’ll discuss reasons for building an app as well as the reasons why you should avoid them. This way, you can make the decision that’s right for your business.
When Should You Build An App?
There’s a well-known online fitness coach who’s helped thousands of people transform their bodies over the last 5 years. His business’ growth has been astounding and the results he helps his clients achieve are inspiring.
If you watch his social media content, you’ll notice a few messages that he repeats over and over.
First, he always tells his story about his past experience in jail and how he was able to turn his life around. Because the story is so emotionally powerful, it immediately draws people into his circle.
However, stories can only get you so far without an amazing product or service.
That’s why he also spends a lot of time talking about his unique app that creates personalized workouts and recipes unique to your body type. The app also includes accountability sessions with him and his other coaches.
This one-of-a-kind app experience for his clients is a major part of his unique selling proposition.
As a result, he’s been able to grow his online fitness coaching business from 0 to 8 figures annually in less than 5 years.
His story is a great example of a business-app match. Apps make sense for your business if (and only if) it provides actual value for a dedicated community. Customized workouts and healthy recipes are very valuable for people committed to getting in the best shape of their lives.
However, in order for your business to experience the same kind of results, you must be absolutely sure that your audience will get significant value from an app.
If you’re just building an app because it’s a trendy thing to do in 2022, then you’re going to waste tons of time, energy, and money for little to no ROI.
But when created for the right avatar, a dedicated mobile app can assist future customers in many ways. It can meet your customers where they’re at and promote new products, services, special offers, loyalty programs, and other benefits.
Plus, as mobile search continues to dominate over web search, apps can serve as a constant, real-time connection to your audience. As your customers spend more time interacting with your business on their phone (repeat exposure), you’ll be able to build brand recognition and another direct marketing channel over time.
One of the cardinal rules of business is that the ones who stay stagnant always lose. As a direct response entrepreneur, you should always be looking for new ways to grow and improve. So if you know that your audience would receive tons of added value from an app then it might be a good idea.
However, there are also a number of reasons why app development is a bad idea for most businesses. We’ll show you why in the next section.
Why Shouldn’t You Build An App?
While there are a few good reasons to build an app for your business, there are also a number of factors that could make building an app really backfire.
For example, apps can put potential buyers off. Having to download an app and interact with a new platform can create too much friction. And, as we all know, confusion kills deals. Simplicity is what wins over the hearts of your customers.
So, when can apps become a burden?
The answer to that question comes down to knowing your target market. If you don’t have a complete and thorough understanding of your customers, then you’re in trouble. Especially when it comes to building an app.
For example, let’s say that you sell supplements primarily to older customers (65+). The last thing that demographic of people wants is to download an app and try to learn how to use it. This would be too time-consuming and frustrating for them–and it’s an example of a terrible business-app mismatch.
As a direct response entrepreneur, you should be doing everything in your power to reduce friction for your customer. That’s why you must know exactly who your customer is and what they want. People in Gen Z, for example, are going to be more inclined to interact with an app than senior citizens.
Other reasons that you shouldn’t build an app for your business include: lack of a viral strategy and the fact that it’s insanely time-consuming. Let’s address both.
Way too many businesses just create an app to hop on the latest marketing trend that they read about. But the truth is that building an app and getting people to use it requires a specific strategy.
You must make sure that you have a plan in place to move your existing audience to the app AND bring new prospects on board to this new platform.
And second, apps are extremely time-consuming to build. Not only that, but they also require constant iteration, fine-tuning and experimentation. It’s not something that you build once and let it run on autopilot.
You constantly need to test new features and make sure it stays up to date with the latest best practices.
Because of all these factors at play, you must be positive that you have the bandwidth to create and nurture an app in the first place.
And then you have to be sure it’s something that will add a ton of value to your unique audience.
Otherwise, it’s simply too much hassle for too little ROI.
5 Questions to Ask Before Building An App
The last few sections have helped you narrow down your options for building an app.
Maybe you think it’s still worth it for you to better connect with your audience and add value to their lives through an app. If that’s the case, then make sure you ask yourself the following 5 questions before moving forward.
Question #1: What problem will your app solve?
You should never just build your app because it’s the trendy thing to do. Make sure your app is the easiest way to solve a specific problem for your audience.
Question #2: Who is your app for?
This is the most important question you can ask. The key predictor of any app’s success is the business-audience match. You must understand exactly who your target audience is AND be confident that this will make their experience with your brand more successful. If they’re not part of a mobile-oriented demographic, then they probably won’t get much use out of the app–no matter how smooth it is!
Question #3: Can you afford to build the app?
Building an app comes with a lot of costs: time, money, and energy. Make sure you conduct an internal audit to confirm that you can handle all these costs and that it will be a worthwhile investment for you in the long run.
Question #4: What platform will you choose?
There are many different platforms you can use to build and host your app. Each one has its unique pros and cons based on the goal for your app. Make sure you do your research on each platform so you choose the right one for you.
Question #5: Are you patient enough?
Building an app takes a lot of time, which is why you need plenty of patience. It will also take time to get your audience to start using it consistently. And finally, app development never ends. You should constantly be iterating and improving your app based on the latest updates. Successful app development requires both patience and persistence–so make sure you have both in spades before proceeding.
5 Key Steps in App Development
Alrighty, let’s say that you decide it is a good idea for your business to develop an app.
In this section, we’ll discuss the 5 key steps in app development. Planning your project with these simple steps will help you create your app more easily and efficiently.
Step #1: Idea Phase
This is where you figure out the unique problem that your app solves, what specific audience you’re targeting, and why it’s going to add tons of value to their lives. Failing to accurately answer all 3 of these questions will doom your app from the start.
Step #2: Design
Once you determine the plan, you can start to create an interface that lets users navigate the app. Remember, simplicity of use is key here. Your aim is to REDUCE friction for your customers–not create more of it.
Step #3: Development & Testing
This is the most time-consuming part of the process. During step 3, you write the code and start preliminary testing. This will help you understand the quality of the app, get rid of any malfunctions, and see areas for improvement. If you don’t have the right skill set for this, make sure you outsource it to someone who does. That person must not only be an expert in app development, but also show you that they understand your vision for the app and your target audience.
Step #4: Launch
Once your app is error-free and as polished as possible, you can release it to your audience and publish it on marketplaces like the App Store. The goal here is to create as much excitement for your launch before it goes live.
Step #5: Marketing
As a direct response entrepreneur, you know that your product is only as good as your ability to market it. This critical last step is where you build a marketing strategy to get your specific audience to download the app. This is also your opportunity to get their feedback on ways to improve the app’s functionality and appeal.
By now, you should recognize the challenges of building an app. It’s a time-consuming and costly investment that requires constant attention. The only businesses that should consider building an app are the ones who know their audience extremely well and can see the extra value their customers will receive on the app.
In order to find out whether that’s the case for your specific audience, consider asking them in a survey, poll, or email. Because the best way to know your target market is to ask them questions about their pain points and hopes.
Simply jumping on the app development trend because it’s popular is downright foolish–and it could end up costing you significant amounts of time and resources.
So, make sure you’ve done your research to avoid those mistakes. It’s the only way to build a platform that makes you proud and best serves your customers!