Regardless of the size of your business, you probably wouldn’t mind if it was bigger, and of course, you’d welcome all of the profits that would potentially go along with it. It has to be remembered, though, that when expanding a business, there are several key steps that need taking and some essential parts of the business that will need upgrading or replacing.
One part of this expansion will be addressing the rise in mobile use in the US and worldwide and the dramatic effect that this can have on the future of your business. However, when you consider this, you might think it extends only as far as a strong commitment to social media and engaging with a customer base on these platforms to create interest.
While this is one critical part of the process, it is not all there is to it. Alongside the need for likes and Instagram shares, reposts, and retweets, there is another element that can help shape the online development of your business. This key part is having an app so that people can also use your product or service from their mobile device.
While you might think that ensuring that your existing website is responsive enough to tick this box, there is a very good chance that you are wrong. While responsive sites look OK on a mobile device, there are two additional factors that need to be taken into account if you are serious about expanding your business.
Firstly, what functions well on a desktop can mean a lot of scrolling on the mobile version of a website to carry out the same task, something that not everybody is willing to do. Secondly, you cannot predict which browser the user prefers or even if they want to use a browser at all. This is not a new revelation and was even being debated nearly a decade ago. Having an app cancels out both of these problems and creates a better experience for the user.
The initial motivation for having an app made for most businesses, however, is because their competitor has one. This is especially true if you are part of an industry where the ordering of products or services can be done using that app. With the continuing rise in online shopping, it would be unthinkable for one retailer to have an app and their main competitor not to have one.
Apart from the obvious prestige, the better user experience would give one a competitive advantage with a simplicity of ordering on a dedicated app. This can lead to some rather hurried planning on the part of the competitor in order to catch up, and a lack of attention to detail that can cause a host of other issues.
Disadvantages of rushing a launch
The clear problem of one business getting an app in front of the public and the rest of the field rushing to catch up is one of quality. If the motivation for a business having an app is that a competitor has one, then it is possible that you might be more interested in the launch than the development.
This might be the reason behind the fact that so many apps are just a hastily constructed version of the desktop site, with very few benefits to the customer and numerous glitches that can actually make matters worse. Clearly, you do not want this to happen, regardless of what type of business you are in.
Exceptions to the rule
After reading this far, you might think that having an app is an unqualified necessity. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. For instance, if you are a small fast-food concern, having your own app might be impractical from a financial point of view. It might be a better tactic to join UberEATS (or Just Eat in the UK) and be included on their app.
As well as bypassing the initial cost, you might also benefit from the wider reach that a company like UberEATS enjoys, which might also enjoy the benefits of international SEO in attracting traffic to their sites by virtue of a ranking in the Google search results. As an aside, you should be aware that a tactic such as international SEO isn’t just for larger companies and could be something you might also consider as part of your business expansion. International SEO companies, such as SEO Ibérica, can help boost your business on a global scale.
Developing your own app
Developing your own app is not something you should really attempt unless you are very technically competent. Doing this has all of the same advantages and disadvantages of building a website yourself. There is theoretically a huge cost-saving, but the end result is likely to have a DIY feel to it that can put many customers off.
For that reason, your involvement with app development should be limited to providing professional developers with the tools they need to get the job done. This will include first and foremost what the app is for and what you want the user to do. For instance, if your desktop site had pages of information about your company and a blog, you might not need to include this in the app.
This is not because this information is not important, but it might be that your customer base might already know your background and only need the app to use your service or order your products. It is this focus that is lacking in a hastily planned app, and taking the time to do this might get your app to market faster by cutting out any unnecessary work.
Once you have committed to planning, you also need to commit to testing. As mentioned above, having a bad app can actually cost you as much custom as having an ugly website, so the user experience is absolutely key here as well. This will involve either employing a company to do the testing for you or, as an alternative, picking some of your long-time customers to give it a dry run.
This not only makes those customers feel valued as ‘beta testers of new innovation, but you also get to find out how your app suits people who are actually going to use it, rather than random testers employed by an agency.
To wrap things up
Overall, then, the development of an app is not to be taken lightly. Although there is, quite correctly, a lot of focus on promoting a brand on social media – it is not the whole story. Those current and potential users of your product or service who see your posts on their Instagram or TikTok apps will, in turn, expect to be able to use your service on an app.
This pressure can have the knock-on effect of bad planning and hastily made decisions, which in turn can lead to the launch of a substandard app. If this happens, it can have the opposite effect on your business to the one you wanted to achieve. Of course, your business might not be a perfect fit for a dedicated app, and instead, you might be better off piggybacking on a larger app, as with the UberEATS example above.
However, if you are going to create an app for your business, you should pay extra attention to both the planning and testing phases of your app development if it is going to take pride of place in your business expansion.