There can be an app for every business. However, many small businesses don’t realize the latent potential that an app can offer as a marketing tool.
With over a million apps available, one may think there is no need for an app. Some may think that a website done well is adequate. However, a mobile app is very often a very powerful marketing weapon for a small business.
Customers don’t take photographs of products or a retail outlet and share them on social feeds. It’s difficult to offer deals to social media active customers with only a website. Websites cannot incentivize customers when in the proximity of your outlet.
These are just a few pointers on how an app scores over just a website. Apps also have in-built capabilities like biometrics, camera, and sensors.
Role of the Smartphone:
- The smartphone has transformed the role of the app.
- Over the decade, an average smartphone user has increased consumption time with the device from a few minutes to over three hours a day.
- Most of the time is browsing and toggling with apps on the mobile device. As compared to mobile websites.
- Banks, restaurants, fashion, and other sectors have seen a surge in their app usage.
- Marketers need to note that customers rely more on mobile to make purchase decisions.
- A customized buying experience helps to clinch a sale.
Many small businesses with finite budgets think a mobile site is adequate. They also operate on finite budgets. It’s important to note that a mobile site and an app go hand in hand. Together, they can help accomplish the marketing objectives of the business.
A mobile app is useful in creating loyal customers. They just tap onto the icon and get started. It is an ongoing relationship. It facilitates on-demand communication.
Hence businesses need to focus on a site and an app to find, attract, and create a loyal base.
Do Small Businesses need an App?
There may be exceptions but a majority of small businesses do need an app. Which business doesn’t want to reach customers 24/7?
An app can create an immersive experience with customers who interact with the brand. Basic routine low involvement products can have fun and excitement created around them.
Businesses can benefit by reaching customers at all hours. It can offer incentives using a time-bound strategy.
A Mobile App Compared to Others
Social Media vs. Mobile Marketing: Social media gains exposure for the app when customers browse on their device.
Mobile Marketing and Email Marketing: Email marketing reached out to customers but without a surety if it being read or reached. Mobile devices have push notifications. What’s important is that generally gets read.
A Silverpop’s study reveals that 20% of emails are opened and less than 6% might click on links or another call to action buttons. A study by Xtify revealed between 30 and 60% percent of users open push notifications and close to 40% engage with the app on receiving it.
Other Possible Gains from a Mobile App
Additional Sales: Apps can be monetized through ads or product purchases to generate a source revenue stream.
Additional customer segments: Beyond the existing set, many browsers who download the app can experience what the business has to offer.
More importantly, it also acts as an advertisement on the customer’s device.
Mobile App for the Small Business
Once the business decides on an app, it needs to appoint a team. The team must be represented by all major business functions including the IT support services team.
The team must jot down what they wish the app to fulfill. This could range from customer acquisition to customer engagement. After objectives have been defined, the team can then decide on all the features they wish to incorporate into the app.
Some App features that a lot of Businesses include are:
Push Notifications: This is a very important and critical app feature that needs to be added. It permits timely, appropriate, and on-demand communication to customers. Push notifications don’t get caught in spam filters. This combined with location-based messaging can offer customers a truly personalized brand experience.
Geolocation Plus Map Integration: This can identify where the business’s customers are. It can give them directions or advice on how to locate the business A business can generate location-based coupons or some special incentives. This feature can also help intimate staff about special or important customers who are about to enter an outlet of the business.
Mobile Shopping and Payment: A compulsory feature that every business must fit into the app. It can facilitate customers of the business to shop for products. In a matter of time, many customers might end up purchasing products only through the app.
Smart Sync and Updates: This will help to automatically push updates and sync content. This would be across digital channels with the mobile app.
A Single Point of Contact: The design team needs to include all key contact information of the business. This can be a one-click calling. Email and social connect buttons can be included.
An Integrated Customer Loyalty Program: An app can be used to manage the loyalty program of the business. The app can help customers to effortlessly attain, monitor, and convert their points in the comfort of their mobile device.
Social Integration: All social media platforms of the business can be integrated into the app. This makes it simple and easy for customers to connect and get involved with the business Instagram, Facebook, and other social media handles of the business.
Virtual Reality: Some businesses might want to show customers some previews of how the product or service looks or feels like. This could be a beauty salon showing a hairstyle. A take-out restaurant demonstrating a new dish. Or a home store showing how upholstery could enhance the look of the customer’s home. Businesses can take advantage of pf such tools to engage with customers and garner potential sales.
Now all the features needed have been included in the app. Some important questions might need to be answered.
What kind of platform can be used? Google Analytics generally has insight and answers that would answer such a question.
Launch Timeline: Special events, new brand launches, or extensions. The app launch could coincide.
The app budget needs to be finalized. It should include mobile app development, maintenance, and promotion budgets.
Can the business build its app using available platforms in the market? Or it can hand it to an outside specialist to undertake the development.