If you are a small business owner and your business does not currently have a mobile app, then you need to first ask the question whether you need one. Having a web site alone is no longer sufficient, as online activity continues to shift to mobile. According to a Gallup survey, nearly three-quarters of Americans check their mobile phones at least once per hour. Almost all – 90 percent – of that mobile-phone time is now devoted to using apps, as a recent comScore data reveals. The reality is that Americans now spend more time looking at their mobile phones than they do watching television.
This rise in mobile-phone usage means that smartphone apps have become a key marketing tool for companies of all sizes, including small businesses. Apps are no longer considered merely a “branding exercise”, and business owners are becoming wise to the marketing power a well-designed, intuitive app can bring. From simplifying online purchases to providing easy-to-access information, the benefits are undeniable which is why small businesses must develop mobile apps to stay competitive. The rest of this article explores some of the typical questions small business owners might have when it comes to their mobile app strategy.
How can small businesses benefit from mobile apps?
If being where your customers is critical to the success of your business, then allowing customers and prospects to interact with your company from mobile devices is now mandatory. Mobile apps increase engagement with customers. They boost repeat visits, and permit a wide variety of online transactions, including the deployment of loyalty cards, push promotions, and ecommerce transactions. Apps deliver coupons and send announcements that build your sales with customers. Apps also accelerate contact with your company, which enhances relationships with customers in a world where speedy responses are prized by buyers. Smartphone icons even help build brands by providing a visual design that customers recognize.
What types of small businesses are making apps?
A recent report from an app development platform found that while “expected” businesses such as restaurants and gyms were early adopters, others such as golf courses, hotels, politicians and plumbers were also on the rise. But why are these industries building more apps? Small businesses that didn’t have an obvious need for an app before certainly have one now: the competition already launched theirs.
As the demand has increased, so have the capabilities. Apps aren’t just the ordering tools they used to be. Now you can promote your favorite charity, post a question about a clogged toilet, watch your candidate’s latest speech, and send an absence note to your kid’s school all while scoring your golf game from your phone. For businesses that meet potential clients at various locations, the ability to show data or portfolio pieces offline using an app can make the difference between closing the sale and losing the prospect to a competitor.
My business is not like other typical ones; so would my business still benefit from a mobile app?
This is the simplest question, but possibly the most difficult to answer. It may be tempting to reach customers at all hours, but exactly how will you benefit? You should know before embarking on this journey, so your expectations are not unrealistic. Even businesses that you wouldn’t have thought would benefit from an app are proving critics wrong by producing innovative and engaging apps. For example, an independent pet food supplier could have an app that encourages users to upload comical photographs of their pets for a chance to win a prize. A product for new mothers could build a community of local mums and arrange meet-ups. A realtor could create an app that compares local house prices now to five years ago. The possibilities really are endless. All it takes is a little imagination to devise a system that consumers will enjoy engaging with.
How much does it cost to develop an app? What is the average ROI that one should expect?
The answers to both these questions are dependent on a number of factors such as type and nature of the app, whether you need the app on all the different mobile platforms, and more importantly how do you want to measure the effectiveness or success of the app itself. As long as you are convinced that the app is going to solve a real business problem or provide one or more of the benefits discussed earlier, the cost of developing the app can be typically recovered fairly quickly.
What does the future hold for mobile apps and small businesses?
The growth projections around app driven revenue are staggering. Non-game app downloads are estimated to grow over 20 percent in the next five years, exceeding $182 billion in 2020. Smartphone adoption in emerging markets should see mobile app store downloads more than double between 2016 and 2020. Current data about mobile purchasing across the different age groups gives a strong indication that in 5 years, everyone is going to be a mobile shopper. Sixty-nine percent of millennials buy products on their smartphones, compared to 53 percent of Gen Xers and 16 percent of Boomers. The increased market shares and spending power this brings will make apps a necessity for B2C businesses in order to streamline a consumer’s journey from product browsing to payment.
While small businesses have been somewhat hesitant in the past to jump into the mobile app market, today’s highly mobile consumers make competing in the mobile realm a necessity for businesses of every size. Having a mobile website is a great first start, but a mobile app gives you the edge in creating a highly engaged and loyal customer base.
Experts at Sma2z can help you develop a strong mobile app strategy and deliver an app that brings measurable results.