Although by now, many business owners and marketers know that they need a responsive, optimised website to cater to their growing mobile customer base, an increasing number are wondering whether a mobile app would be worth the effort and financial investment. Many also wonder whether an app would fit into their marketing strategy.

Internationally, where mobile apps are far more prolific than in our local market at present, many companies have swiftly hopped upon the mobile app bandwagon in an attempt to remain front and centre in the minds of their customers.

These companies understand that certainly one of the key benefits of a mobile app, lies in the fact that they can enjoy a permanent, easily accessible presence on the device of their customer, thereby avoiding the effort and seeming hassle associated with that customer navigating repeatedly to their website.

Unfortunately the result is that many non-tech companies, who have desperately sought ways (or excuses) to offer an app to their customer base, have contributed to the glut of unsuccessful attempts at creating something valuable and useful. This has given brand-driven apps somewhat of a bad name and customers are now more wary of downloading an app if they have any reason to believe that it will be little more than a platform for obtrusive advertising.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff 

To give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t, take a look at some of which were considered the worst mobile apps and those that were considered to be the best mobile apps of 2013. You will quickly see the stark difference between what makes an app outstanding, versus what makes one a complete and utter failure.

But perhaps an app would be just the thing that your business needs. To help you decide whether investing in a mobile app is worthwhile for your business and for your customer, we’ve listed 5 considerations for you to ponder.

1.  Determine where the value lies

Instead of asking whether are not you need a mobile app, rather ask how a mobile app could help your customers. The answer to this question, really does depend on the nature of your business. A mobile app should ideally enable you to make your customer’s life easier and more productive, while enhancing their experience with your products and services. Could a mobile app help your customer to order products or services ahead of schedule or make reservations? Perhaps your mobile app could offer little known facts about your product, or could even offer data analysis and storage such as diet and workout trackers do? The opportunity for innovation is endless, however the bottom line is to ensure that the mobile app will do a great job of adding practical value to your customer. If you think that you would benefit personally from your mobile app, then the chances are that your customer will too.

2.  Define your target audience 

Think about the people that are most likely to access and use your app. What phones do they predominantly use? Although smartphone penetration is on the rise in South Africa, your particular market segment may lie within a sector of the economy that is unlikely to use one anytime in the near future. You will need to be fairly specific and understand whether your target audience is using a simple ‘dumb’ phone (least number of features), a feature phone (somewhere between a smartphone and a dumb phone) or of course a smartphone. If you determine that a large, viable portion your market does indeed make use of smartphones, then you will need to determine what percentage are using iOS (iPhone), Android and RIM (BlackBerry) technologies. Your app will ideally need to be designed for use across all the available phones and platforms that pertain to your particular target audience. Lastly, you will need to determine just how tech savvy your target audience is and how likely they are to download and use a mobile app.


3.  Determine the benefits

While the success of a mobile app is hinged directly on whether or not it genuinely benefits your customers, you as a business must naturally see a return on your investment. Included within your overall strategy, you will need to identify the economic benefit of developing a mobile app. That economic benefit goes beyond the direct Rands and cents that can be generated and includes how your customers relate to your brand. If you have successfully created a mobile app that is memorable in a positive way, then you can weigh up the cost to build, host and maintain the mobile app, with the cost that you would normally associate with other brand building activities such as advertising and promotions. Metrics are where you need to be looking to find your answers. Knowing how many people are using your mobile app, when and how they are using it and then comparing the frequency of that interaction with your other marketing activities, will start to provide you with a clear indication of whether your mobile app is delivering the marketing value that you are seeking.

4.  Scrutinise the competition

Does your mobile app idea already exist? If not, how will your mobile app idea weigh up against that which your competitors are offering? Analyse what your competitors and other companies within your industry have on offer and develop your mobile app strategy with a view to exceed customer expectations by offering more than your competition does. Having your ear to the ground to determine upcoming industry changes and trends, could help mould your mobile app strategy further. To stand out from the crowd you will need to achieve two objectives. Your mobile app will need to be unique, as well as offer a high-end experience to your customer.

5.  Finalise the practicalities

Once you are confident that you have settled upon a winning mobile app idea, you will need to consider the development of your mobile app. Hiring a professional mobile app developer is a good idea as this will ensure that the mobile app aligns with your brand objectives and offers a seamless, high quality experience. There is nothing worse than wasting data on downloading a badly designed, difficult to navigate or understand mobile app, which doesn’t work as advertised.

Also remember that as with all technology, your mobile app will require maintenance as devices and operating systems evolve. Ensure that you allow for regular improvements and updates to the mobile app so that it remains relevant and continues to work well.

Mobile users are fickle and they will move away from you if they find something better or more interesting than what you are offering them. Be sure to remain abreast of what is happening in your market place and keep on top of your game.

The Formula is experienced in the strategy, design and development of outstanding mobile apps. Book your free consultation with us today and let’s help you develop a winning mobile marketing strategy! Give Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib a call on 021 556 5661 or email us: – we look forward to helping your business grow!

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