“Is there an app for that?” has become as common of a question as “What’s your sign?” was in the days of the hippie-van. It seems- circa now, everyone from Facebook (the golden standard in this market- so much so for the longest time I assumed all iPhone’s came with the Facebook App already installed) to Groupon, Mint.com to Men’s Health have an application for some facet of their business.  So much to the point that it makes me wonder if this isn’t the answer to the elusive question; “Exactly how does one make money on the internet?”

And I’m not just talking about revenue on apps you have to pay for.

Some whole companies are being virally grown around their apps. For example, Groupon- a great concept as a website, no doubt about it, however add to that concept the convenience of being alerted when a new “amazing” deal opens up via a push-notification on your phone and you have captured the three most important motivators of the buying public; fear, greed and exclusivity.

  • Fear: There is a clock on the deal.
  • Greed: You can really save a lot of money.
  • Exclusivity: You get these deals only if you are a member/ have the app.

Obviously this motivation formula to Groupon is why the company has become so wildly successful, however, I believe Groupon’s application is a major contributing factor to the fact that they are soon set to go public with an estimated value of $15 billion!

USEFUL FACT: In 2010 overall revenue for paid apps dropped 16%!

But the question remains- do I really need an app for my business?

Before you go and invest any amount of time or money into developing an app, ask yourself a very simple question; What will the purpose of my app serve?

If you come up with a good answer to that question, then ask yourself the follow-up; Why will anyone want to utilize that purpose on their phone?

Most people will probably come up with the factor that, in my humble opinion, drives technology- convenience.

However, if you cannot come up with a convincing answer to both of these questions to the point you could; go up to anyone in your target demographic, spout off the answers, and have them clamoring over themselves to find where they can click “download”, you may want to wait for the next “big thing”.

Why? Because odds are if you cannot achieve that kind of reaction- your app will fall into the great sea of the 300,000+ apps out there… especially if you are asking people to pay for it.

Apps are a wonderful way to put your content out there, however it needs to offer something more than what users can already get on your site:

  • For Groupon it’s convenience.
  • For Facebook- it’s mobile uploads and immediate comment/photo/inbox notifications.
  • For Mint.com you never have to worry about bouncing your account as you can check it whenever with a click of a button!
  • Men’s Health- even they have exercises you can download to your app and log your results so you don’t have to print out sheets of paper to take with you to the gym.

Find your motivator- and you will find yourself with a successful app.

Andrew Jones
CEO & Founder
New Media Fluent