In recent years, the ease of developing and offering a mobile app for your business has increased enormously. As a result, the market has been flooded with apps available to consumers eager to simplify their lives.

However, just because it seems like everyone is rushing to offer an app, that doesn't mean that you must follow suit. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that 78 percent of US small businesses currently don't even offer an app, so the perception that every company has to have an app isn't a reality in today's landscape yet.

Before you rush out and create an app, you need to consider whether it currently suits your purposes. Marketing in 2016 may be trending towards apps, but before deciding if your business is app-ready, you need to ask yourself the following questions.

Do you have a monetization strategy?

A large majority of apps that are coming onto the market are free, which means businesses are usually reliant on advertisements for their primary source of income.

The only other method to generate revenue within an app would be to include at-cost add-ons within the app. This often leaves consumers who were looking for a free tool less than pleased with the overall experience. As a result, revenue is likely to suffer. Why? Advertising revenue tends to come with a large amount of downloads and in-app purchases generally occur only when the app has truly become an invaluable tool to the consumer. This can take a long time to accomplish without revenue.

Ultimately, the idea is to attract customers with a basic service, and then once they are hooked, offer a premium service that recommends that they take their experience to a fresher, richer level with add-ons they can purchase.

Have you done a comprehensive survey of your target audience?

Researching your target audience is vital to having a successful app. If you hope to have investors at some time in the future, then you need to be able to show you have an audience.

Prior to even creating an app you should have a healthy email list of interested customers and an already established community. Engagement of consumers is so important to businesses nowadays because you want an audience that will fight for you and people who will act as ambassadors for your products and services.

An engaged audience will write ratings on your app. Believe it or not, ratings do impress new customers. They are also a great way to learn what kind of services they want your app to have.

Have you invested in an effective design?

Apps aren't only for big consumer brands anymore. Why? More than 90 percent of Americans own a smartphone and more than half of them use these devices to view the Internet.

This begs the question: Are you capable of developing a mobile app? If your IT department isn't capable of handling such a task, consider outsourcing the task to a proven app creator. These days creating mobile apps is fairly easy - and affordable - even for a small business owner.

Don't forget, however, that consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. A poor design will not help your app's success. In fact, it may even result in a loss of clientele. Make sure your designers are capable of delivering a product that will impress and won't be hard to view on mobile devices. In other words, be sure that it's a thumb-friendly presentation, keep your image file sizes small and your words as brief as possible.

The next step to determining whether the app hits all the right marks is to test it. Start by performing simple A/B testing to compare different potential versions. Statistics indicate that even some very simple changes can end up driving a 10+ percent increase in conversions. Determine what works best for you and your customers and be sure to deliver it.

Published on: Feb 16, 2016