Do you really need to create a mobile app for your business?

customers using a mobile app for a ride sharing service

Apple coined the phrase “There’s an app for that!” in 2009, and it feels even more accurate today. However, you don’t always need an app to appeal to mobile internet users.

A mobile-friendly website offers the same functionalities, all while making better use of your digital marketing budget.

Keep reading to learn more about why a mobile-friendly website might be the smarter option.

Designing mobile-first doesn’t always mean creating an app

A mobile-first digital strategy doesn’t necessarily mean adopting an app as one of your main channels. Mobile-first is about developing a positive experience for mobile users.

Before you decide whether to create a mobile app, focus on upgrading your website to deliver a mobile-friendly experience. Essentially, you need to optimize your website before you can even consider expanding those capabilities to an app.

Start by tailoring navigation and content to small screen sizes, and keep in mind what kind of information mobile users are likely to look for.

What is a Google My Business profile, and why does it matter? Google My Business is a free tool that can boost engagement with local customers by helping you manage how your website appears on Google. Discover more tips on how to improve your local SEO ranking.

Your mobile-first strategy should extend beyond your website.

Mobile searches help users discover your content, so you need to invest in SEO strategies (like claiming and optimizing your profile on Google My Business) to make sure users can easily find the information they’re looking for.

How do you know whether your business needs an app?

When deciding whether to create a mobile app, you need to answer the question: Does my business need one? Think about how an app would organically fit in your digital and mobile strategies. The following are factors to review when making your decision:

Redundancy

Your app and website need to maintain a level of consistency to preserve brand identity. At the same time, each has to offer a distinct value. Ask yourself: Would an app add enough value or feel redundant?

Internal capabilities

An app is not a one-time investment of time and resources. There are ongoing costs associated with it, such as:

  • Bug fixes
  • Interface upgrades for new generations of mobile devices
  • Functionality improvements
  • General maintenance
  • Tech support

Does your business have the capabilities to handle those costs? Perhaps more importantly, is the expected return on your app enough to justify the cost of building and maintaining it?

Necessity

You should also take into consideration your audience’s relationship to mobile. How many users are mobile-first internet users? Is an app the best way to address the pain points they’re experiencing? Have your customers expressed any desire for an app?

Advantages of focusing on a mobile-friendly website

Keeping practicality and cost in mind, an app is probably not the most efficient and effective option. In most cases, a functional and responsive mobile-friendly website will help you adopt a successful mobile-first digital strategy because:

  • A website is more economical in terms of time and financial resources.
  • A website will work across all devices and browsers. Depending on the technology and user base, launching an app may mean creating a version for iOS and Android (and worrying about mobile software updates).
  • A website makes it easier to share links to specific pages and get discovered through search results. An app doesn’t allow for the same kind of targeted content delivery strategy.
  • Visiting a website is fast and convenient.

When should you create a mobile app?

For some companies, creating a mobile app may make sense, especially if it would serve a direct purpose (e.g., improve user convenience). Other instances when a dedicated app would be beneficial include if:

  • The app is more than a channel you use to deliver content—it’s a product that solves a problem for your customers. Companies like Uber offer an app in addition to their website because the app solves a unique problem: on-demand transportation.
  • You want to leverage the built-in hardware capabilities of a mobile device, like a GPS or camera.
  • You want users to access content offline.
  • The app provides a more interactive experience. Apps use action-oriented programming languages that allow you to craft a different type of experience.
  • You’ve analyzed your competitors and determined an app would give you an advantage over them.
  • The app improves customer experience.

Despite these justifications, remember that an app will not suffice as your main marketing channel. If you are going to develop an app, be sure to still invest in a mobile-friendly site to comprehensively enhance your digital marketing campaign. Essentially, an app serves as an advantageous extension to your pre-existing website—not a replacement for it.

Furthermore, unless you can pinpoint specific issues that can only be solved with an app, focusing on a mobile-friendly website is a better use of your digital marketing budget.

It is important to evaluate upfront if creating a mobile app is the best option for your business or if a mobile-friendly website may yield the same results you desire. The team at TBH Creative is experienced in strategic web design and development. We build complex, enterprise-level websites and can help you determine the best course of action that fits your goals.

Wondering whether you should create a mobile app? Need help with redesigning your enterprise website to make it more mobile-friendly? No matter your digital marketing needs, TBH Creative has the experience to help you figure out the best course of action to support your business goals.

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Tatum

About the author | Tatum Hindman

Tatum is the president of TBH Creative and is responsible for building long-term client relationships. She enjoys the strategy behind web design and collaborating with clients to define and execute online marketing goals. She likes to blog about hot topics in web design and digital marketing, as well as share tips for strengthening your online presence.

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