“There’s an app for that”. It’s funny to think how one of the most popular phrases in contemporary lexicon would’ve meant zilch ten years ago. Yet, just a decade later, it’s astonishing just how much mobile applications have substantially empowered us in this digital age. Whether they’re used for matchmaking, hitching a ride, or flinging disgruntled avians at wobbly structures, it really does seem like there’s an app for everything these days. More importantly, many mobile apps effortlessly achieve something brands have been trying to do for years on end: they keep us connected.
A study carried out by Iowa State University has shown that mobile apps are changing the way brands engage with consumers and are even capable of boosting a company’s bottom line – just think of how much of E-Commerce’s success can be attributed to mobile platforms. The research indicates that there is a direct link between app use and purchase activity, i.e. the more engaging the app, the more customers will spend (I for one can confirm I’ve ordered 34% more takeaways since installing the Just Eat app on my phone).
Forbes even claims that it’s not just big name brands that are using mobile apps in their business. An increasing number of small to mid-size companies are also leaping onto the app wagon, as they’ve realised that an effective mobile strategy sometimes requires more than just a mobile-friendly website to improve customer engagement and further build brand recognition. And an app can be the perfect tool to help achieve all that, especially when considering that the majority of digital media consumption now takes place on mobile devices.
But perhaps the most fascinating view on how the app has evolved in less than a decade comes appropriately from The App Business. The reality is that the app no longer exists in isolation, the days in which it was merely an icon on the screen of a single device are long gone. Instead, we should now be viewing apps as fully-formed integrated services. As devices proliferate (mobiles, tablets, wearables, cars, etc.) so does the reach of a single app. We used to do everything on one device, but now we can move effortlessly from one to another, the app being the connective tissue between these different platforms.
As far as we’re concerned, no one can dispute the rise of the planet of the apps (#puns), but it would be a mistake to invest in developing one purely for the sake of it. After all, the real strength of an application lies in the added value it provides to your business as a whole. For this reason, it is vital to achieve a deep understanding of what aspects of your service would translate effectively into an app and how this fits into your overall commercial and communications strategies.
The last thing you want is for your app to be nothing more than a curious gimmick. And trust us, gimmicky apps are sooo 2008.