Your Mobile App Is Failing: Should You Fix It or Kill It?

Remember several years ago when every marketer was telling you you needed a website. At first, you may have resisted, but eventually you got one and it turns out they were right. You did need a website.

Then they started saying you need a mobile app…so many did that too. Only nothing happened. Turns out you didn’t need a mobile app after all. What went wrong?

Well, in a sense, those marketers who told you that you need a mobile app were right. Your business does need to be available on mobile, just like it needed to be available on the web, but a mobile app isn’t always (in fact, it isn’t usually) the way to go.

Winning at the mobile app game is tough. The average user only uses 5 apps per day, and has 27 total installed on his or her phone. Imagine how difficult it is not just to be one of the 27 apps, but one of the 5 that the user actually uses.

Why is it so hard to succeed with a mobile app?

First, your app needs to provide essential value…and not just once, but often. And you have to really convince users of this immense value in order to get them to jump through all of the hoops that are necessary to go to the app store, remember their password, download your app, set up an account, and start using it. Remember walking into Best Buy and seeing the sea of software boxes to buy from. This was competition. With just the box design and placement, you had to compete with the plethora of other software programs around you to be chosen.

Well, mobile apps are like this. Only instead of 30 competitors around you, there are thousands. As you can see, it’s not easy to win in the mobile apps game.

But not only are mobile apps hard to market. They are much more complex and resource intensive to maintain than a website as well. You must update your mobile app constantly to keep up with the changes in operating systems across all devices. It’s called being backwards compatible…and it is no small feat.

We’re not being Negative Nancy here. Some businesses really need mobile apps and it is worth all of the effort. Sometimes mobile apps pay off. But, don’t enter into a mobile app lightly. Be realistic.

What businesses need mobile apps?

The best, and most used, apps are usually extensions of existing businesses. Rather than starting from scratch, these businesses already have a customer base and the mobile app provides additional value to their existing services, so it’s an easy sell to their audience. If the entire business is an app, you will likely struggle to rise out of the sea of competitors and gain users.

So, how should you decide whether to pursue a mobile app or not?

First, ask yourself why you need an app? An app isn’t the answer to being on a mobile device. There are better and easier options for that. So, what is unique about your product or service that makes it necessary to have a native app on your users mobile devices (for example you need access to certain hardware, push notifications, etc.).

Second, listen to your customers. Are they asking for a mobile app? If you have an existing business, your customers will be begging for a mobile app if there is a need for one. If they aren’t asking for it, then more likely than not, you’re doing just fine without a mobile app.

If you truly do not have a compelling reason to have an app and an audience that is asking for it, don’t pursue a mobile app. And if you already have one that’s failing, kill it. Don’t just blindly throw more resources towards it. While websites are for everyone, mobile apps are not.


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