Historically, there has been some hesitancy on the part of SaaS companies to fully adopt mobile applications as part of their offerings to customers. SaaS firms will often rightfully spend a great deal of time and resources developing a highly effective desktop version of their service, causing some to view a mobile application as an afterthought.
This can lead to successful SaaS companies that only have responsive site versions of their product for mobile access or, often worse, hastily assembled mobile apps that offer a user experience that is far below what they have created for desktop users.
There are few more egregious missed opportunities for SaaS companies than to fail to give users the option to access platforms with quality apps. When adults in the U.S. use their phones to go online, they spend 88% of their time using mobile apps. Without an app, you are limiting your ability to be useful to your users — and opening the door for competitors to step in where you have failed.
There remains a long list of benefits for SaaS companies to take full advantage of mobile opportunities. As an executive, I see three particularly consequential motivations for investing the time and resources into building a quality mobile app.
1. Become An ‘Anywhere’ Service
The whole point of a mobile app for your SaaS platform is not necessarily to put “all” of the desktop functionality of your service into an app. Rather, the focus should be to find what parts of your service make the most sense to integrate into a mobile experience.
SaaS companies should ask themselves how their service can be useful as part of an “on the go” mobile experience. Perhaps there are certain dashboard views or actions that suit themselves to a quick glance while waiting in line for coffee or sitting in an airport.
SaaS founder Rahul Varshneya explored this in an Inc. article, explaining that developing an app means developing something for the specifics of a mobile space: “Don’t build a mobile app just because you must or because you want a footprint in the mobile ecosystem. You have to commit to the platform if you plan to go mobile, which means that you have to acknowledge the difference between the two platforms — web and mobile.”
When we developed our mobile app, we took a look at the opportunities for it to have the most direct impact on users’ lives. For example, looking at our home service customers, we knew the ability to send and receive leads from anywhere (even on a roof during an installation) was very important. We made sure that was a highly effective and visible feature on our mobile app.
By following this approach, you can integrate your service into people’s everyday lives, giving them greater exposure to the benefits of your service.
2. Gain A Competitive Edge
The reluctance of some SaaS companies to aggressively pursue the build of a quality mobile app means there are opportunities for competitors to beat them to it. This can especially be true if your SaaS competitors have a mobile offering that is underwhelming in its performance functionality or user interface.
In fact, if you build a functional and effective mobile app, then users may even be willing to incur extra fees for those benefits. According to a study conducted by Dimensional Research (via CIO), app users are more interested in app performance than price: “App speed and responsiveness are everything, and 96% of respondents said app performance is important.”
Depending on your existing fees and business model, in-app monetization may not be the best move. However, the bottom line is that customers have a great interest in mobile experiences that serve them well. If your brand delivers a valuable mobile experience, it can have a major impact. This holds doubly true if your competitors are offering mobile experiences that fail to meet performance expectations.
3. Improve Customer Retention
Perhaps the biggest draw of having a quality mobile app is not only that it can help you attract new customers but that it presents an opportunity to retain your current customers as well.
When your users have the option to use a functional and effective mobile app, it can dramatically improve your customer satisfaction and reduce any customer churn.
For starters, when customers have your service as a mobile app, it makes you accessible to them 24/7. It adds a layer of convenience to your service and helps to entrench your brand into the day-to-day activities of your users. This type of service and accessibility can have a major impact on brand loyalty.
Your mobile app can also forge a deeper connection with customers by giving them real-time updates. You can find certain push notifications your app can send that will have a measurable benefit to customers — like when feature updates are available or when they have a new in-app notification for review. Once again, the app is there to keep the customer more informed, and they’ll reward you for that with their loyalty and advocacy.
There are clear benefits to investing the time and expenses into creating a quality mobile app. I see this especially as an executive who is focused on long-term growth and sustainability: An exceptionally performing app can win over new customers and allow you to retain your current users.
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