Does my organization really need a mobile app? In a word: MAYBE.
It is worth considering the following benefits of mobile apps to determine the answer for YOUR organization. We also want to point out here that there are a slew of different benefits based on your organization’s need. There are two main ways that mobile apps can impact your organization:
- They can increase engagement and visibility with your customers (B2B or B2C) – #customer
- OR, they can improve efficiency for your team – leveraging mobile apps to make your internal processes function better – #internal
As we lay out all of the benefits of mobile apps in this post, we will also tag each item with #customer and/or #internal to indicate what it applies to:
#1: Mobile Apps are Faster
Mobile apps are inherently faster than web-based applications for a number of reasons, and are reason that users expect mobile experiences to load quickly (in less than 1-3 seconds). So, why are mobile apps capable of so much speed? There are a few reasons, and we’ll try not to get too technical:
- Most of what a mobile app needs is already on the user’s device (images and graphics) – it was downloaded there when the user downloaded the app, or when the app was updated from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store
- Unlike web experiences, mobile apps are not limited in the amount of data/resources it can pull down simultaneously
- Mobile apps are explicitly designed to run on the hardware and operating system that they are being run on
While speed is a great reason to go with a mobile app, it is not, in of itself, a reason to go through the effort of developing one.
#2: Mobile Apps can Better Access Device Hardware
Your phone is a very capable piece of hardware, but the device manufacturers won’t give hardware access to just anyone. When you are in a web browser on your mobile device, Apple and Google don’t know enough about the web application to know that they can trust giving hardware permissions to that website.
However, when we submit a mobile app to Apple or Google, the mobile app is reviewed and permissions that are needed are added to a manifest. Apple and Google are in charge of allowing or disallowing every permission that we want to ask for as developers. Further, the user is put in full control of those same permissions via the Operating System (OS).
While both Apple and Google have allowed better access to hardware by browser recently – such as the camera and photo storage – the user is still very much in control of allowing those permissions EVERY TIME they are needed. In contrast, a mobile app typically gets those permissions when the app is downloaded and maintains them unless the user turns them off in the application’s OS settings.
It remains that certain pieces of hardware are still only accessible by mobile apps, like the gyroscope and bluetooth. If your application requires more tightly integrated hardware support, this is a very good reason to go the mobile app route.
#3: Mobile Devices Know Users Better
We don’t mean this in a creepy way. Today’s mobile devices come with a litany of biometric security options from TouchID and FaceID on Apple devices, to iris, face and fingerprint identification on Android devices. These technologies have nearly eliminated the friction caused by traditional security measures like passwords. Because these technologies only have available integrations with mobile apps, a mobile app presents the unique opportunity to log users into your app in a flash.
Furthermore, your mobile device knows what your preferences are not only on the phone, but from app to app. Most app settings are “set it and forget it” which relieves the user from having to give permissions repetitively.
#4: Mobile Apps Work Better Offline
Yes, a website can be designed to work offline, but even when that is accomplished, the amount of storage is limited on a mobile device. Mobile apps, on the other hand, get virtually all of the storage they need and make working offline much smoother.
Where would you use this? While use cases for offline are far more prevalent for internal corporate mobile apps – when field personnel are working in remote areas, for example – you probably have a game or two on your phone that functions just fine without an internet connection. The point of offline functionality is that the user can still work without the internet. Then, when the internet connection returns, the mobile app can sync right back up with the server and reconcile the data as if the user never left.
#5: You can Only Access Push Notifications with a Mobile App
We are not going to over-promise on Push Notifications – the user has the absolute right to turn them off on their device or on your app. However, when executed correctly and when leveraged to enhance the user’s experience, the Push Notification can be a tremendous asset to engage your customers and/or your employees.
Whether you are creating a customer-facing app, or using a mobile app for internal consumption, push notifications can offer an engaging way to help your users along their journey.
#6: Mobile Apps Allow Greater Personalization
There are a few ways that mobile apps excel at personalization, and some you may not think of every day, but here are some of the best things that mobile apps provide:
- App settings – we mentioned this previously, but you have the ability to make your app settings as granular and customized as you think you customers or employees need. Just want push notifications for Customer Billing issues, you can do that.
- Accessibility – this is a big one that a lot of folks don’t think about. This includes everything from poor eyesight to complete blindness. The device’s operating systems have robust capabilities for the visually impaired and a properly built app is able to magnify text smoothly and even read the text via the Operating System’s settings
- Arrangement – The apps on a device are by design, a visual bookmarking tool. The user can group, move and organize their apps to best fit their needs. This means that your app is exactly where it best fits the user’s lifestyle whether it’s a customer or an employee
And the list goes on – think about it: you can configure how messages go to your smart watch, when you don’t want to be disturbed – everything you need to make your device, and the mobile apps on it, fit your life.
#7: You can Privately Publish Corporate Mobile Apps
Not a lot of people think about this and even fewer know about this, but you can launch mobile apps for your organization and your organization only. Want to build an app that helps your employees track their time – to feed into your Accounting and Payroll systems? You can do that in a way that only makes that app available to your employees and not the public. That is very hard to do with a web portal.
#8: Payments Made Easy
When you are trying to sell something in your app, or simply trying to process a bill payment via your app, payments are much more tightly integrated than the web. With simplicity brought by ApplePay and GooglePay, a lot of users already have their credit card information a touch away. Utilizing these payment methods removes the friction from the payment process altogether. No need to enter your credit card information on a website again.
Furthermore, if your app is a subscription-based service in of itself, both Apple and Google also facilitate smooth and easy payment through their stores. Both companies have been smart to have you store payment information against your store credentials for frictionless and easy payments. You will have to pay the piper, though. If you use the in-app payment systems, the stores can take between 15-30% of your revenue.
#9: Fully Integrated Social
While both web-based applications and mobile applications have access to the social media apps on your phone, a mobile app’s ability to flow in and out of other apps on your device is a far smoother user experience. With built-in Operating System trays for sharing and tightly integrated social sign-in, the user’s interaction with Social Media through your app is far stronger than the web-based alternatives.
#10: Extending your Brand
If you are trying to maintain a brand presence with customers, you have a leg up if your app is installed on a user’s device. There are several ways that mobile apps extend your brand:
- Your app icon has a consistent presence on your customer’s device
- Your presence in the app stores allows you to showcase your brand to the user every time they download a new release
- The app stores give you another avenue for Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) feedback via app reviews – and today, both stores allow you to respond to those customer reviews – an awesome opportunity to engage
Benefits of Mobile Apps – In Closing
Mobile apps are fantastic, no doubt. We will still argue that they are not for every use case or every organization – they are often more expensive than a mobile web application. But, if your application can benefit from many of the above benefits of mobile apps, it’s worth considering how a mobile app can help your organization.