“We need an app, ASAP!”

It seems to be the mantra in marketing departments throughout the land these days.  Everyone it seems has suddenly discovered a burning need to have a branded app.  Certainly there is a growing appetite for app.  As of mid 2011, over 15 billion apps had been downloaded, and offerings are plentiful, with an estimated 425,000 apps for the iPhone and 90,000 for the iPad available on the iTunes store.  Looking more specifically at the beauty category, there are 414 iPhone apps on the iTunes Australia store tagged as “beauty” and 179 iPad apps tagged “beauty”.  And that’s not even looking at the potentially bigger Android app marketplace!

App development isn’t cheap.  Aaron Maxwell, a US developer, suggests a good budgeting rule of thumb is to allocate $30k to develop an app from scratch, not to mention updates and upgrades.  Given the cost, it is worth answering two basic questions before diving into the app pool:

1.)   What is my ROI?  Unless I’m charging for my app, how will I determine what my return on investment is?  Will it generate leads?  Create engagement that translates into purchases?  Build my database?  Without a defined ROI, all you have is an orphaned marketing effort.

2.)   Does my app do anything?  Why would someone download it?  The value of an app lies in a combination of immediacy, simplicity and context.  When it is done well, an app creates a real opportunity for engagement with your prospects.  But when it doesn’t, it will be ignored.


Patty Keegan

Digital Chameleon

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