On the storage-challenged iPhone, gigabytes are a precious commodity. Apps are clogging up users’ phones, meaning that they are quickly binned if not a priority. Before you decide to become one of over 2.2 million apps fighting for attention in the App Store and one of 3.5 million in the Google Play store, take a look at the pros and cons of building an app for your business. Here are six questions you should ask yourself before investing in an app.
1) Is my website complete?
Before you even begin to consider an app, make sure that your website is fully functional, user-friendly, and mobile responsive. Nowadays it is essential that your site can be viewed easily on a mobile device. This does not immediately constitute the need for an app. Mobile view is not merely a smaller version of a desktop screen (we have all experienced trying to zoom in on a page that is A2 sized) but one that is enriched by the compactness of a smaller screen. Corner drop-down menus, scrollable content, and thumbable links are essential for a mobile website. Google now punishes sites that do not adapt to mobile by demoting them in search rankings.
2) How many power users do I have?
Your website reels in new customers. Your app retains them. If someone downloads your app, they have sacrificed someone else’s app, or deleted an Oasis album, or erased their family Whatsapp group; they are a loyal, heroic customer. You need to determine the number of power patrons you have. If you are a studio with mostly drop-ins and casual users, your app will get little attention. Membership clubs, on the other hand, can create an app that enhances the customer’s experience by soothing pain points and offering quick booking, easy access to timetables, and premium features.
3) Are push notifications useful for us?
Push notifications are a bit like emails, except they pop up on your phone and are sent directly from an app. They aim to increase engagement and to market new products or updates. Push can also remind a user to complete an abandoned purchase or to come back to the gym: “We haven’t seen you in Spin for a while.” While Push is a great marketing tool, it is not a million miles away from email alerts so that the system could be applied to your email marketing strategy instead. The advantage of push is that the notifications do not get boxed away in promotions or junk folders.
4) What pain points will my app solve? What extras will it offer?
An app is all about customer ease. At a sports club or gym, an app will eliminate the need for customer loyalty cards and membership zappers- as digital barcodes become the new access control. Your app should streamline the customer experience, keeping members up-to-speed with their fitness progress, purchase history, and upcoming appointments. Having this toolkit of information and services in a single app will increase member satisfaction.
Gymgoers will be able to view and book classes straight from the app. Afterwards, a pop-up feedback form gives them a chance to rate the experience, showing that you value and listen to their views.
In-app purchases are convenient for customers and valuable to you. Perhaps clients can pre-order a smoothie via your app, so it is ready and waiting for them when they finish their workout.
5) Do I have a customer loyalty programme?
Member retention is directly correlated to facility usage and business engagement, so an interactive and personable loyalty scheme is highly advantageous for any fitness business. For your app to maximise retention, you should integrate it with your customer loyalty programme. Your app will track a client’s fitness journey, offering rewards based on the number of classes they take, sweat buckets they fill, or burpees they bust. Your duty to your customers is to help them achieve their health and fitness goals so that they will appreciate push notifications and motivational rewards.
6) Do my competitors have apps?
It is always a good idea to suss out the competition. Download a competitor’s app for yourself and have a play around. Check out the number of downloads and the user reviews to see how popular and successful the project has been. If it looks like their app has received little attention and is full of bugs, then perhaps it is a sign that your market isn’t ready and a business of your size cannot afford a high-quality app.
7) Is it worth it?
Many of the big chain facilities have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into developing half-baked apps. Unless you have a faithful customer base and plentiful resources to build a highly useful app, don’t bother. On average, for a fairly basic, well-designed app, agency fees will cost between £50,000 and £100,000. The larger app companies demand an extra zero on the end of those two figures. An app is not a requirement for fitness facilities at the moment, although this is likely to change in the future.
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