PODCAST: Should my organization create an app?

Estimated read time: 15 minutes

Lindi Wheaton of The Pixel  and I are discussing the pros and cons of mobile apps for companies.

Hear about the pros and cons of mobile apps!

Cover art by Lindi. Contact her here to get help with design.

Can’t listen right now? Read the transcript below:

Christoph: Hello everyone I’m back for another podcast Christoph Trappe  with the Authenic Storytelling Project and again I’m joined by Lindi Wheaton with ThePixel.

Lindi: Hi everyone!

Christoph: And today we’re going to talk about Mobile Apps so of course an interesting topic I don’t remember how it even came about. I think I said something snarky on twitter about it

Lindi: Maybe?

Christoph: I don’t even remember what it was but I’m sure it was snarky because it was on Twitter. But mobile apps are very interesting topic out there. Should you create one, should you not create one? So before we get into the heated discussion about the topic let me tell you a story.

I actually created, well I didn’t create it but I was part of the team that created the first United Way app globally and it was created by Karl Becker who used to be in Cedar Rapids I think he’s in Minneapolis now and what we did was it was a map based app. So you could say, so it would locate you and you could find volunteer opportunities around you so if you didn’t want to drive to far or wanted to be in your neighbor you could do that. What was interesting about it was we actually submitted it to the app store and it was denied, declined like six times. Very frustrating, they don’t tell you why so we just kept updating things we thought could be updated. Finally it went live. So did some people use it, some people did but it was more of a marketing tool quite frankly. But that might be one of the biggest challenges with apps. Will people actually use it?

Related: Read about my digital marketing projects at United Way here!

Lindi: Absolutely! And you also have to think about what you’re going to develop the app in. Is it going to be Android or Apple?

Christoph: Apple! Apple!

Lindi: And I have an Android and most people prefer Android apps over Apple even though Apple I think is like the standard. So if it wasn’t for Apple we wouldn’t have a lot of things believe it or not.

Christoph: It’s interesting right, Apple has a much smaller market share.

Lindi: Yes.

Christoph: But people think they have a much bigger market share, right?

Lindi: Absolutely! Yeah, it’s kind of just smoke and mirrors in a way.

Christoph: It is. So how would you decide what to develop it for?

Lindi: You mean what operating system? I would go with Android because the numbers and then I can whoever I’m developing the app for education them why Android more popular. We would still want to use it for Apple because Apple is the American home brand and everyone knows Apple. Unfortunately you might still have to develop Apple too and that’s a lot of work because now you’re developing for two OS’s. Also, Apple does more sliding, there’s just that different interfaces. So you have to think about each operating system differently.

Christoph: So what’s interesting as a business you have to decide, “is it even worth it?” So the other day I think the number we were throwing around was, we saw on Twitter so it must be right.

Lindi: 77 percent or something?

Christoph: 77 percent of the people stop using it after three days. I’ve seen similar numbers, 90 percent open it one time or something and then they stop. So how do you even determine if it’s even worth it?

Lindi: That’s hard.

Christoph: That’s the hard question?

Lindi: It is hard, you may have to see if your market it there, if you’re willing to take the leap. You know most people didn’t want to go to social media. “Oh no that’s not a big thing.” But now you have social media experts in house.

Christoph: Yeah.

Lindi: So it’s do you have the money and do the people you have that are going to develop it known what they’re doing. I think it’s one of those things you pay for what you get.

Christoph: Nothing is free. So if you can download an app and it just pulls in your website, probably not a real app anyways it’s probably a glorified iframe or something.

Lindi: Absolutely, yah, yep you’re absolutely right on that.

Christoph: So think about what kind of money you have, do you want to invest it. I personally as a consumer I use apps more and more.

Lindi: You do? I… no

Christoph: Not too much?

Lindi: I really dont, no.

Christoph: Are you a mobile web fan?

Lindi: Yeah, I like the website more.  Maybe that’s just because I make more website then I do mobile apps. Apps also take up a lot of resources, your data, I don’t always like the push notifications as a user but as someone who does marketing I want push notification and want to be sending them out like all day long but then how many are going to uninstall your app then based upon that. There’s so much little algorism that goes into it.

Christoph: So this is one of those cases the marketer in us loves something, right. We love the push notification.  It’s like the popup on your website, 100% of marketers love them and 100% of consumers hate them. We love them because they work.

Lindi: Well said. Yeah, it’s absolutely like the popup.

Christoph: So something to think about as a business. As a consumer I used to have a really older iPhone. I want to say 16GB. I ran out of room out of space none stop.

Lindi: Yes, absolutely! And the operating systems continue to grow. It’s just one of those things that Apple does to you. I actually went from an iPhone 5 to the Google Pixel phone and I kind of like it better. As someone that loves Apple, I have iPad a Mac all that stuff I really like the Android, the openness of it. I can do much more with it believe it or not. I hate to say it Apple.

Christoph: So, well for now I’m still on Apple just because everything is tied to Apple. I guess you can transfer it. But how do you actually decide, how do you decide what you need and how do you get people to use it. That I guess is the biggest trick.

Lindi: There’s so much usability that goes into it. Like with games they always want people to get more and more. More coins that way they can log back in the app and keep using it. So you have to an incentive, like why should someone open up your app, why should someone really visit your website. So you have to find an incentive behind that app. The app is going to be different than the website it almost has to be a mini version of the website but yet still give us just as much information as a website.

Christoph: You know one of the incentives I use, Financial apps. Let’s see what else has it. Others have it to. But they have the thumb then able to touch login so I just touch with my thumb to the iPhone. I don’t know if the Pixel has that or not.

Lindi: Yeah, right back here.

Christoph: In the back.

Lindi: Yes.

Christoph: Okay, so see the same functionality and I don’t even need to know my password.

Lindi: Nice!

Christoph: As long as it’s me, right it opens it. So that is actually a nice feature. Doesn’t really encourage me to use it because that’s just to get into the app but it is very nice. Notification on Facebook, oh my god! Facebook sends you so many notifications, check out the memories, check out what someone is donating money too I don’t care, sorry guys. You know, but you have to figure out what are those reasonable notifications.

Lindi: Right, with your Facebook you’re going to have to go into your privacy and all that and I don’t really think you can do that on their app. You have to go to the computer go to the top click on privacy and then you can figure out what you want to see and what you don’t want to see. But they don’t make a very good user interface. Think about this too back when Facebook started it was just on PC and now how that had to evolve to make it more mobile friendly and everything and to make it so it’s on the app. I’m sure more people use the app then Facebook.com.

Christoph: Oh, I’m sure, yeah.

Lindi: They really had to evolve that. They had to take the whole website and make that mobile. That’s very difficult vs. here’s the mobile here’s the standard. Facebook really had to try.

Christoph: We will see where Facebook goes. Anyways that’s a discussion for a different podcast at some point. What do we know, what is a reasonable budget to create a app now a day? Do you know what the current number is?

Lindi: I would say $30,000 – $50,000 at least.

Christoph: $30,000 – $50,000! WOW so if you’re going to spend $30k – $50k that is um you figure out how you get that money back, right? And how do you make that worth your while?

Lindi: Right but you have the Designers time, the UX designers time, the Developers time, the QA testers time and maybe when your done well between all that you want to porotype it. What if what you’re building doesn’t actually resonate with your audience? You don’t want to be all the way done with it and say, “Yeah, were going to ship it out” and realize your audience hates it. So you have to do testing along the way. It could even take a year. To do it, to do it well

Christoph: Yeah.

Lindi: And hopefully and I mean hopefully *cross your fingers* it works out because there’s a lot of times where I download apps and a lot of people do and we don’t go back to them again.

Christoph: That is very true so it could take 1 year. And of course you don’t want to forgot you also need a Project Manager. I have written about that many times. You always need a Project Manager. Nobody knows what they’re doing but we couldn’t live without them. Kind of a joke, right but seriously they keep us on track. And then of course tie it into your overall strategy so if you’re going to spend that kind of money make sure it’s part of your overall strategy. What are you trying to accomplish, how are you trying to reach people, how does it fit into the website. That is actually one of my pet peeve when people come over here and they say, “oh, we should do a light version of our website.” It’s on the go because people only use us on the go. You know where I use most of my apps? Sitting on my couch or sitting here. We’re sitting here in my office we’re using an app to record this so it’s not just on the go, that’s 1990.

Lindi: No, it’s more for usability. And you’re app right there is very simple. It doesn’t have a big user interface (UI) it’s not complicated, it’s very simple and sometimes the simple little KISS theory is all you need – Keep It Simple Stupid. 

Christoph: I actually have a blog post in the works on podcasting equipment I use. So we’ll include that in there but guys just a quick preview this is the app we use and it looks like an old school cassette player.

Lindi: Tape recorder.

Christoph: And it actually has a tape playing like it’s recording.

Lindi: If people know what that looks like anymore.

Christoph: Depending your age you might know what that looks like. But anyway, good. What else do we have to share with our listeners on apps? Any other tips anything we forgot?

Lindi: Hmmm well, what about the personal tracking of apps. You have to agree to the Terms and Conditions. I don’t really read them, but maybe you do.

Christoph: HA! YES! I take weekends off and I read the terms and then I strike them out and send them back to the company. I don’t think anybody reads any Terms and Conditions.

Lindi: Right. So how do apps make their money then? There’s no such thing as FREE. There’s always a developer that has to put in so much time to make these enchantments.

Christoph: Yep.

Lindi: So where does the budget come from? Is it just your sponsorships and…

Christoph: Probably not. Guys, if you’re not paying for something you’re paying with your data. End of story. So think about that. Honestly, most apps I don’t care. I mean I really don’t care when people say so and so knows where you are. I’m like, I mean I tweet like none stop and when it’s alive tweet it tells you where I am too! I could turn that off but I dont really. So, just something to think about, right.f you’re not paying for something you’re paying with your data. End of story

“If you’re not paying for something you’re paying with your data. End of story.”

Christoph Trappe

Lindi: If you turned it off you would have to turn it off on everything. I mean it’s on the phone, I think it’s just a layer on top of your apps and everything else. I mean you’re always tracked and monitored unfortunately so if you don’t want to be tracked or monitored you shouldn’t have a phone.

Christoph: *laughs* so there’s the answer to that question.

Lindi: I mean it’s just true. They’re always going to know where you’re at. Unfortunately that’s just the world we live in. So who pays for the apps? We do ultimately, the user because some way for some reason they’re selling our data back to someone or collecting it for something.

Christoph: Yeah.

Lindi: So dont install an app if you’re not 100% sure because it can crash your phone, you could lose your picture or the pictures could be sucked out of your phone or put somewhere else. So always be careful. Like if I had a child I would have them have their own app, I mean iPad. They would not using mine. It’s just like a computer, I dont want you downloading a bunch of weird stuff and I have to figure out what you did wrong.

Christoph: Right, right, yep. Well good discussion as always Lindi.

Lindi: Thank you

Christoph: Thanks for joining us and for chatting.

Lindi: Yeah.

Lindi: I want to ask you a question.

Christoph: Yeah.

Lindi: You were just named one of the top content marketers, top 100. What ranking?

Christoph: 21st

Lindi: So what does it take to the top 21st list?

Christoph: That’s a whole another podcast for another day.

Lindi: Ha, next week.

Christoph: So the list are created, there really marketing tools for the company that create them.  They want you to share them. For them to be shared and you know people share them even if they’re not legit. But what they did actually the Content Writers group, that’s what they’re called I think. Content Writers, they’re based in Austin you can hire them for ghost writing and they use BuzzSemo to actually run metrics, right.

Lindi: Oh!?

Christoph: So the way to get on a list you have to be public. So for example, if you’re a fantastic content marketers in side a huge company and you’re never public you will never get on a list. Because they can’t measure what you’re doing.

Lindi: Yah, they can’t see you.  

Christoph: They can’t see you, right. So basic I blog a lot, we do Podcasts like this, right? And everything I talk about is #contentmarketing and I talk about content marketing and I have Content Marketers they retweet it.

Lindi: So you just built your own audience. But you’re kind of a shark in your own market.

Christoph:  A shark in my own market? What does that mean?

Lindi: Well, you’re aggressive in a nice way. Like A piranha. I mean you know what you’re doing and you you’re your feet well planted in your market too. So, I think that’s why you got on the top 21st list, in my opinion.

Christoph: Thank you.

Lindi: That’s me being nice. I’m not saying shark in a bad way.

Christoph: oh, I don’t take that negatively at all.

Lindi: Okay, good. Thank you.

Christoph: I’m adding that in my email signature “Content marketing shark in my own market”.

Lindi: Do it, please do.

Christoph: I love it!

Lindi: Yeah, good I’m glad you do.

Christoph: Good

Lindi: Good. Thank you for the Podcast

Lindi: Bye.

Christoph: Until next time guys, have a good one.