Since the total web use between desktop and mobile has shifted in the last few years, with more than 50% of all visits now being mobile, many of us are adapting our marketing and digital strategy to include it. And while using a web browser on your mobile device works for some things, like reading text, it’s really hard to get a website to be totally responsive.
The answer? A native app.
10 years ago, if you decided to build an app, you were facing a terrifying journey that required custom development and branding, not to mention a huge expense. But building an app can be relatively easy, especially with the growing options of white-label and premade solutions for your brand. It can now be pretty simple to create an elegant app that reflects your style and that your members or customers will love.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about creating your own white-label app, from assessing whether you need one and what your options are to implementation.
How to know if you need an app
The first question is how to decide if you actually need an app or not. If you’re at this stage, answering these 5 questions will help you decide if it’s time for an app:
Have you hit your responsive limit?
Most website builders will deliver a mobile-responsive website. This means that your website will recognize a mobile device and serve up your content in a way that looks beautiful on it. While the mobile-responsive design works for text-based content and usually images, most sites hit a responsiveness limit when you get into other features: log-in screens, membership areas, video, courses, and more.
It’s a struggle to make many of these responsive, and often it’s better for your customers just to choose an app.
Are you selling a digital product?
If you’re selling a digital product, then app access is not only nice to have but possibly essential to the success of the product. Obviously, it depends a bit on your users. But when people pay for a digital product or service like a membership, they usually expect mobile access.
Imagine Netflix without an app. Imagine trying to always access a social media platform through your mobile browser.
This is the real struggle your customers may have if you’re selling a digital product or service without an app for them to use, and it will cost your business in the long run.
Are you looking for engagement?
Moving from the negative to the positive, would you like to build more engagement with your brand? A lot of the brands building apps with Mighty Networks are doing just this, recognizing the value that a thriving customer community brings to their brand.
For example, Oiselle, a brand that sells running apparel for women, launched the membership community, Oiselle Volée, which offered a ton of value and connection for their customers.
An app isn’t just about rescuing your website for mobile. It can create amazing customer engagement opportunities and–as a result–increase the value of your brand.
The best part about an app, that takes you past fighting the algorithms, is that you own your audience. You control the interactions you have, and you aren’t fighting for their eyeballs. When they open your app, they see only the content and posts that relate to your business. That’s pretty fantastic.
Have you outgrown social media platforms?
Both creators and brands often turn to social media in order to manage their customer communities and try to build followings. Many of them struggle against the algorithm to actually get the attention of their members who are inundated with distractions.
Often a dedicated mobile app is a much better way to get meaningful member or customer engagement without trying to deal with the limitations of social media platforms.
Are you looking for more ways to serve your customers?
When McDonald’s released its mobile order options with its app, it wasn’t to fix a problem they were having. After all, they had drive-throughs to serve customers who didn’t want to get out of their cars–they might have argued that that was enough.
But they built an app that would ping the nearest franchise, send special offers to customers, and let customers park, push a button, and have their meal brought out. Add to this a snazzy BTS promotional campaign (that’s a K-Pop group for those of us who aren’t Gen Z), and the app growth drove same-store sales up 26% over a quarter–during a pandemic when stores were closed!
The McDonald’s case highlights that apps aren’t just about fixing problems. They’re also about driving growth with a new generation of customers who want a different brand experience, and overall creating new ways to serve your customers.
How to decide what your app needs to do
If you know you need an app, one of the first things you need to consider before getting down to the brass tacks of building one is figuring out what you want your app to do. Here are four questions you can ask to decide what your app needs:
What existing services need to be replicated?
If you’re making a list of what your app should do, an easy place to start for existing businesses is to think through your current web offerings and consider whether any of them should be offered via an app. Do you run a forum with your website? Do you offer customer support or brand loyalty rewards?
That’s the place to start.
What’s working on the website?
If you’re a business with an existing website planning to create your own app, it’s also a good idea to audit your website to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
There’s no point in paying to replicate existing services in an app if they don’t work–unless you can be reasonably certain the app would make them more effective.
Creating an app is a good time to get clear on what’s working and what’s not.
What unique mobile solutions could you have?
The second thing to think through is what unique solutions an app might offer that the website can’t. This is a way to add value to your customers. So, for example, accounting software companies often include mileage calculators in their apps to track mileage for business expenses. The location features of the app means that it’s possible to add a totally new feature that would be impossible on a web browser, and in doing so deliver huge bonus value to customers.
Think through what your mission is. What do you offer to the people who love your brand? What problems do you solve for them? And how could an app help make their lives even better?
What totally new benefits could you offer?
When Cambridge University was looking for a solution to connect a professional network of researchers in healthcare and technology, they used Mighty Networks to build a powerful community to advance new research partnerships and improve overall outcomes.
Think through new benefits you’ve never even imagined before, new ways to build an awesome customer or member engagement. Will you add events? A regular live stream? A community? A loyalty program?
All of these things are possible with an app, so think big!
Deciding on app features
Obviously, there are a ton of different uses for an app, but here are a few common options:
- Membership and/or loyalty programs
- Courses or training
- Live streaming or video
- Location-based features (e.g. find a store, track my run)
- FAQs or customer service
- Remote account access (e.g. banks, utilities)
- Digital storefronts
What type of app do you need?
It was the standard way to build an app in the past, but it’s less common now, custom development means hiring a developer to custom build your app. With a developer, you can theoretically get whatever you want from an app, within reason. But the process is long and extremely expensive. It’s hard to find good developers, and many brands end up disappointed with a custom app.
Still, it’s an option that many of the world’s biggest brands go with. A lot of the most successful custom-developed apps have either in-house developers working with their branding and user experience teams so that they can oversee the whole process and make sure the end result is great.
If you don’t have these kinds of resources, you’re probably better to go white-label.
The option that’s becoming more and more common for brands is a white-label app. White-label apps are often better developed and supported than anything you could hire a developer to build since they are often created by trusted brands that do this all the time. There are white-label apps with different features, so you’ll need to choose one that fits what you want to offer your customers.
But a white-label app is probably the best solution for most brands looking to make their own app.
Related post: 7 Best App Creation Software Options for 2024
How to make your own app in 7 steps
Now that you’ve got an idea of the background work and strategy involved in app-building, we can talk about how to actually do it. We’ll walk you through these steps based on how the process works for brands who choose to build their own app on Mighty Pro.
1. Get clear on what you need
Once you’ve got a sense of what you actually need your app to do, going through the steps above, make a list of the features you need with your app.
You can make a list of the features you need replicated, as well as a wish list for new features.
Features I need carried over from the website:
- The Q&A Forum
- The training modules
Wishlist for new features:
- Live streaming
- Custom branding and design
- Member profiles
- Find “members near me”
2. Choose a white-label platform
Once you know what you want your app to do, you can choose the development process that’s right for you. As we said above, you’ll probably either be hiring a development team or else working with a white-label solution.
Since white-label solutions are a better option for many brands, you can choose the white label solution that fits your needs. We’d put in a plug for Mighty Pro here, especially if you’re running a membership or customer community.
Mighty Pro gives you the ability to streamline a bunch of different services for your members, including community, courses, live streaming, great events, discussions and FAQs, polls, and more! And it’s all brought together under your own branding and with your own apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
We also walk you through the process from start to finish, offering advanced analytics, strategy, and technical support after your launch.
3. Schedule a meeting and a demo
Once you’re ready, schedule a demo of your white label app solution! We’ll show you what you can do with Mighty Pro, and give you some ideas of what others have built.
You can schedule a call with us and we’ll walk you through the ropes.
4. Work with our team to bring your app to life
You don’t need to go through this alone. We’ll work really closely with you to help you design the very best version of your app for your customers and/or members. We walk with you in design and support you as you add your own custom branding to your app.
Basically, you bring your vision, ideas, and your brand. We’ll do the work. We’ll also keep working with you after your launch to make sure you’re successful, with support, analytics, and regular check-ins to make sure you’re reaching your milestones.
5. Test your app
Before you release your app, you can test the finished version to make sure you’re happy with it and that everything works! You’ll see what your users will see and feel and how it handles.
6. Plan a launch strategy
Although we take care of actually creating your app, you get the fun role of building hype around your app launch! You can share the upcoming launch with your email list or across your social media channels, and start to build hype for your app.
Here are some ideas to include to make your app launch a success:
- Have a giveaway or bonus for your early adopters
- Ask for reviews in the app store (again–offer an incentive)
- Host an event that features the benefits your new app (e.g. a live stream or webinar)
Never forget to make sure the value for your users is tied to how the app helps them get what they want more efficiently, not in the app itself.
7. Launch your app
This part’s pretty easy, but also the fun stuff. We’ve taken care of the technical details, so you just get the fun of launching without any of the hassles!
8. Ask for feedback
The final, and probably ongoing, step to building an app is to ask for feedback from your members. See how they like it, and ask for reviews in the App Store or Google Play Store if they do!
We’ll help you figure out the analytics to see what’s working and what’s not, troubleshoot any issues you might have, and basically make sure the app does the stuff you need it to!
Ready to launch your app with Mighty Pro?
If this article got you excited about launching your own app, awesome! We’re here to help. With Mighty Pro, you can bring your brand’s community, content, events & conferences, videos & live streaming, online courses, memberships, and payments together into beautifully branded native apps that you own and control.