Ways Mobile App Can help Small Businesses 91 / 100 So you have a small business? There’s a Mobile App for that. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for you, most small business owners don’t know this marketing medium’s untapped value. Yes, also for small companies. And for small enterprises in particular. If you care about SME marketing, you’re probably at least contemplating whether or not your company wants or needs a mobile app. With about 3 million applications each in Google Play and the App Store, you may even find the competition becomes saturated, so why bother? Or maybe you’ve already spent time and money, creating an awesome mobile website, so your customers are protected when they want details about your company. It makes sense on the paper. But ask yourself the following questions: How often does a client take a photo of the product on your website and post it on their social media? Does your website notify you when a respected customer walks in your door? Can the website offer exclusive rewards and discounts to consumers with a strong social impact? Can your website offer consumers discounts and rewards when they are within a certain range of your store? Does your website tailor your shopping experience based on daily visitors? These are only a few indicators of your mobile app’s intrinsic commercial advantage compared to a mobile website. And with in-app capabilities such as biometrics, geolocation, sensors, and cameras, the possibilities are almost infinite. Are you still asking if your small company needs a mobile app? Consider the feature of the smartphone. Table of Contents MOBILE APP IS THE BESTHere is what Mobile App Marketer Should Know:My Mobile Website Conversion is Fine; why Do I Need A Mobile App Again? Does it Really Make Sense Having A Mobile App For Your Business?Advantages of Mobile App Marketing vs. Other Promotional ToolsSocial networking vs. Mobile App MarketingE-mail Marketing versus Mobile Marketing3 Things You Stand To Profit By Creating a Mobile ApplicationSmall Business Mobile App PlanningIt’s the Ballgame for Everybody MOBILE APP IS THE BEST If you’re in business, you know that mobile app is where the action is today—the numbers don’t lie. Since 2008, the average smartphone user has gone from spending only a few minutes a day on his computer to spending almost three hours exploring digital mobile media. Mobile usage surpassed desktop for the first time in 2014, and this pattern is increasing year on year. More significantly, about 90 percent of those 3 hours were mobile uptime for several customers. If you’re betting on your desktop website to get your customers’ attention, you may want to think again. Do you need more proof? In November 2013, Google launched research mapping the purchase path for mobile consumers across nine verticals, including restaurants, travel, lifestyle, fitness, automobile, home, and garden. The findings were surprising: just 48 percent of users started their mobile search quest, so far below the number of users using a desktop search. Here is what Mobile App Marketer Should Know: Consumers are more reliant than ever on their mobile devices as they travel down the path to purchase. Consumers need information on demand—and proximity is the secret to conversion; geolocation systems allow companies to predict and satisfy their consumers’ needs. Digital marketing is the secret to capitalizing on impulse buying by offering a highly customized shopping experience. Example of a mobile fitness app. My Mobile Website Conversion is Fine; why Do I Need A Mobile App Again? This is a popular concern for small to medium-sized businesses with minimal finances and budgets. The greatest part of this is that mobile marketing for websites and applications is not an idea; in reality, mobile websites and native apps work hand-in-hand to meet your marketing goals and advance your revenue targets. Here are the features and benefits of both mobile websites and mobile applications. Mobile Website Mobile App Marketing Objective Attracting new customers Creating loyal customers Mechanism of Use Open a browser, and type the website URL Tap an icon on the smartphone screen User Interaction The customer completes an activity, exits. Open, two-way, and ongoing; push notifications to enable on-demand communication. Marketing Advantage More responsive to search queries (in most cases) Engagement, loyalty, and ease of use. App “lives” on the user’s device. Businesses who restrict their digital footprint to a responsive website face the “buy and bye” scenario: a client discovers you on mobile search, stores or even orders, and leaves, maybe forever. On the other hand, businesses that rely exclusively on mobile app marketing can miss out on attracting potential consumers together. The most active advertisers use their smartphone website to draw potential users and persuade them to download their app—creating an incentive for lucrative, enduring relationships by increasing engagement, building loyalty, expanding the social reach, and providing highly customized shopping experiences. Does it Really Make Sense Having A Mobile App For Your Business? This is a question you should ask yourself before we proceed any further. If the answer is no, you do not need to read on. The fact is, applications fit well for most small businesses, but they’re not perfect for everyone. If you can confidently answer yes to the following questions, consider designing a mobile app for your small business: 1. Will you profit from being able to be in touch with your customer 24/7? Simple question, huh? Who wouldn’t like to be able to reach customers everywhere they are? 2. Can you give your brand fun and productive mobile experience? This one will be tricky for some small business owners to answer, so don’t be quick to answer with a no. And if you’re selling items, you can build a mobile app that mixes fun and social functionality with incentives and discounts. Give this some innovative thinking before you turn down the concept of a mobile app. And if you’re confused about it, keep reading. Inspiration will hit before you enter the end of this article. 3. Is your company going to benefit from a mobile app? This is the easiest question but also the most difficult one to answer. It might be enticing to meet consumers at all times, but how are you going to benefit? Before you embark on this quest, you should realize that your aspirations are not unfounded in the above case of an app with incentives and discounts, the market advantages of getting consumers to shop again and again. On the other hand, if you are a personal trainer, your aim could be to develop yourself as an authority or create a community around your brand. Your app may be in place simply as help for your company, so ROI monitoring may not be as easy as that; if you sell a product online, a mobile app can really help your business, but you should still be able to determine what success means with having a mobile app. Advantages of Mobile App Marketing vs. Other Promotional Tools On average, people have 26 applications on their mobile phones. What does this mean to you? You contend with 26 other apps for attention and usage. But don’t think about it; it’s nothing! Think of how many blogs you’re competing with online. Hint: This is in the MILLIONS. Social networking vs. Mobile App Marketing Social networking is no longer a new medium (relatively speaking), and many local companies are now beginning to evaluate their own Facebook and Twitter pages. This is a free way to gain attention to your app. But the rivalry here is intense, and it’s not just about the supermarket rivals. Typically, when people are on social media, they’re not trying to make a purchase. They’re there to catch up with friends, find out what’s going on in the world, or share updates on what’s going on in their lives. This places the profiles in direct competition with several things that your viewers might find more interesting (sorry). E-mail Marketing versus Mobile Marketing Email marketing is an old cliche that still serves major businesses. But even though anyone signs up for your site, there’s no guarantee that they’ll see your email. Even if they see your email, there is every possibility that there may not read it. With mobile apps, you’ve got something called a “push notification.” These are the notifications that you receive on your device to let you know something new is going on with one of your games. Through Facebook, you could get a push notification to inform you that someone has tagged you in a post or sent you a message. A push message can be sent to your calendar to inform you of an event. Your app can submit push alerts for any number of reasons you specify. But while push notifications are created for several reasons, there is one thing they all have in common. Customers get to read them. According to Silverpop’s Email Marketing Benchmark report, about 20 percent of emails are opened by the user, and only about 5.4 percent of people click on a contact in that email. Push provider Xtify, on the other hand, reported that 30 to 60 percent of users would open push notifications and that about 40 percent would engage with the service directly after notification. 3 Things You Stand To Profit By Creating a Mobile Application Time to answer the question, what’s in it for me? There are more than three possible advantages, so these should get you excited about getting the right app to work for you. 1. Earn Money – Whether through advertisements or in-app sales, smart merchants monetize their applications to create another revenue source. 2. Reach a different set of consumers – Let’s hope that a decent percentage of your existing customers can download and use your app. However, there’s still the opportunity to reach a whole new demographic that will discover your brand for the first time. 3. Showcase goods and services – While your app will have a purpose, a benefit to the end-user, it will also serve as a not-so-obvious ad for your company. Small Business Mobile App Planning If you’ve determined that the app is the right move for your company, it’s time to get down to your app, developing the technical aspects. Based on your organization’s size, the normal first move is to designate an app team—a community of members representing the company’s main business activities. For the most part, this involves a C-suite representative, the communications department director, and someone from IT who knows the development and support process. Your app team’s first step is to list what you want your app to do. They typically fall into one of three categories: purchase, interaction, and transfer. If you have established your goals, consider the functionality that your app requires to succeed. It’s the Ballgame for Everybody While you might be an early adopter among your mobile marketing peers, you must understand that there’s nothing to stop your rivals from getting underway. All you really need is some innovative thinking and strategic preparation, and you will have your own app in absolutely no time at all. Using resources like those we’ve created, you can create an app for a small fraction of the time and financial commitment it would take to design it from the ground up. Develop your own mobile app and start reaching your audience today. We’ve never met a company owner who regrets their decision to create a mobile app, and you’re not going to be the first.