There’s no denying that millennials are relying on their mobile devices to help accomplish their daily needs — whether it be picking up dry cleaning or ordering dinner. But if you already have a mobile site, is developing a native app really necessary?
To find out, I asked 12 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) why or why not they think native is non-negotiable.
1. Gain control over user experience
A native app allows you to deliberately design your user experience around mobile and to create a stickier relationship with your user. By using your native app, you can better code an experience with gestures, features and behaviors that may lead to better experience or conversion. For example, swipes and pinching can make navigating much more efficient and effective. Beyond the user interface, a native app allows you to make more use of APIs designed specifically for the experience you’re trying to accomplish. When done correctly, a user understands the value of using your app and adopts the use of your native app as a central part of the experience.
2. Access customer data
Mobile apps provide a treasure trove of valuable data that you can leverage and monetize, from phone numbers, location data, demographic info, contacts, social profiles, etc. You might be surprised what it tells you and what it is worth.
3. Increase your Google rankings (SEO)
Google often displays apps among its first results when search is conducted via a mobile device. Being ranked highly has become extremely important as mobile users rarely get past the first few results (whereas computer users will venture deeper). As such, an app could be a very powerful SEO weapon to add to your arsenal.
4. Access phone features
A mobile application is typically faster, more interactive and can work with a number of phone features such as the camera, alerts, push notifications and phonebook that a website might not be able to access. Also, you can use a mobile application without an Internet connection.
5. Increase conversion rates
Our experience says that with a native app you are able to obtain a much higher conversion rate. This higher conversion rate is crucial to any type of business and can make the difference between falling behind the competition or staying above it. Technology is continually advancing along with consumers expectations and if met and exceeded, you will realize how quickly your conversation rate will increase.
6. Increase customer reach
Smartphones are used to search the Internet much of the time, so it is important to expose your business right at their fingertips. With an app, you will be providing the convenience value to your customers by making your product even easier to use. In the upcoming future, most all businesses will have an app, so it is important to stay ahead of the curve and start now.
7. Better customer engagement
Mobile websites are great for serving basic static content, but they struggle to offer any further interaction with your customers. Mobile apps can politely interrupt your customers to create an engaging two-way communication channel that’s extremely laser-focused on the specific customer. Mobile websites require the customer to make the first step in initiating contact. With a mobile app, the company can proactively reach out to a customer or group of customers and begin a dialogue. Further, mobile apps can leverage geo-based triggers to offer even more of a custom experience for your customer — something mobile apps cannot.
8. Improve value and functionality
Unless an app can add value or functionality beyond your mobile website, it’s a myth that all brands need to have native apps. Start first with your customer experience and a deep analysis of your mobile site visitors to make sure you’ve clearly defined the need and market opportunity before investing in building an app. Given the high rates of app abandonment, it can be more damaging to launch an unnecessary app or apps without incremental utility for your customers.
9. Become more efficient
If your mobile website is ill-equipped to solve a specific business problem, you should consider native. For example, if your hotel guests frequently forget their room keys, you can improve their stay by enabling room access via smartphones and/or wearables. When evaluating native, align your investment to the following business drivers: revenue, productivity and quality of life. Ask yourself, “How will native functionality significantly impact one (or several) of these value categories?” If you can quantify the business opportunity, it may be time to pull the trigger. Always start with the business problem and then seek out the most effective technology for the job.
10. Become more convenient
As technology advances, the way people interact and shop changes as well. In today’s day and age, the general population spends a great deal of time on their smartphones. Furthermore, the amount of information presented to consumers on a daily basis is astronomical. That being said, having a native app for your business is a smart move for two reasons:
- User convenience: People don’t like to have to work for their information. An app will allow your customer base to easily find information on your company or products.
- Staying top of mind: Having your company’s app on a users smartphone will serve as a constant reminder of your brand. Even if the consumer may not be using the app frequently, they are still seeing the icon and thinking about your company. Staying top of mind is key.
11. Integrate with Apple Watch
If Apple Watch becomes big in 2016, then you better have a mobile app to work in tandem with your Apple Watch app. Most Watch apps rely on their iPhone counterparts for support, so in case the Apple Watch is important for your business (especially if you’re in fitness), then it makes sense for you to start investing in an app.
12. Consider the value for customers first
It depends on your business model and traffic flow. If you’re an active marketplace (offering products or services), then you need to have an app readily available for all your customers. If you’re a professional, resource/informational (one-time) use guide, having an app will be pointless for you. The bottom line is, consider the value your app will bring to your target audience and actually ask them if they would use it on a regular basis.