Websites are for customer acquisition, apps are for retention

I recently saw a post on Reddit about why every business should have a smartphone app. At the time I thought it was funny, as apps aren’t a feasible solution for a lot of small companies because they’re expensive to make and rarely have better functionality than a modern website.

Additionally, as a marketing tool, apps are difficult to make successful because it requires users going out of their way to download. Because of this, apps need their own marketing campaign to increase user count, and only then can it be used as a remarketing tool.

Whereas a responsive website can achieve a similar functionality without requiring the user to download and install from an app store.

After a bit of thought, it made me consider when developing an app is appropriate for a company. My conclusion, it’s rarely appropriate as a marketing tool or for most business types, but it can be a useful tool for customer retention.

For example, if you own a builders merchant with an extensive product catalogue, an app could allow tradesmen to have the entire catalogue available at their fingertips at any time, making it simpler for them to price for materials (and allowing them to check prices in areas with low signal).

Or maybe you’re a bespoke furniture brand and the app allows clients to see their furniture design through Virtual-Reality or Augmented-Reality before it is manufactured.

Using apps as a customer retention tool like the above may be expensive, but for specific brands it could prove a great way for clients to feel a better connection with the brand.

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