700,000 apps reside in both the Apple and Android app store -- but are any of them yours?
Businesses develop mobile apps to directly generate income (through sales of the app, or the app facilitating product sales) or for the purposes of marketing, branding, and customer service. If your business is interested in utilizing a mobile app in order to increase customer loyalty, you have two options: to build a custom app, or to make use of existing apps through a third-party provider.
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Building an App: Benefits
Building your own app provides you with greater control, flexibility, and functionality than a mobile website or a third-party app. As such, you have the power to customize your app to your customer: fulfilling their specific needs and increasing their loyalty to your brand.
For example, 72% of customers have a more positive view of a company if they have a customer service app. And, after having a good experience with that app, 81% of customers will use social media and word of mouth to tell their friends about that experience (Nuance).
- Customers spend 10% more time on apps than on the web. 70% of customers have at least 10 apps (Nuance).
- Mobile websites reach five times as many customers as apps, but custom apps have greater functionality and can fulfill more specific purposes than mobile websites are currently capable of (Mashable).
Building an App: Costs
While customization to your customer is a valuable benefit to building your own app, can that benefit outweigh the costs? The more complicated your app is, the more it will cost to develop it. According to Forbes, the cost to develop an app are:
- $1,000 to $4,000 for a basic content-based app.
- $8,000 to $50,000 for a database-driven app.
- $10,000 to $250,000 for a gaming app.
In making the decision whether to build, you need to keep several considerations in mind: the complexity of your proposed app (which will determine price); your overall marketing budget; and the projected ROI of the app once it is implemented.
Related: Get Involved with Mobile App Development
Before starting to build your custom app, ask yourself: How can an app generate customer loyalty? What does the app need to do for your business? Is there a pre-built app already on the market that can fulfill the same function?
There are a number of apps on the market that merchants and businesses can use to attract, keep, and reward customers. Here are just a few of the options:
- Foursquare: Customers use their mobile device to check in to your business, enabling them to then have access to deals, rewards, and special offers. You can customize the reward structure to attract new customers and reward top spenders.
- LoyalBlocks: A location-based app that automatically recognizes customers when they walk in the door, punches their "mobile punch card," and provides them with rewards every time they visit.
- Spendgo: Rather than tracking location, this app tracks customer spending, enabling customers to receive points for every purchase and track their progress online, on the app, or through your POS.
- Perka: Another location-based app, this one enables you to solicit private customer feedback and deal with customer service issues immediately -- before they show up on social media.
If your business needs to be able to customize its app specifically for customer loyalty -- and can project a positive ROI -- then building one from the bottom up is a viable option. However, don't jump straight to app development without first investigating a mobile website and the significantly cheaper options from third-party app developers.