A few years ago it was only large businesses that could afford an app. Because of changes in technology, the cost to develop a mobile app has dropped considerably. In 2017 nearly half of small businesses in the United States are expected to have a mobile app, according to a survey done by a research company named Clutch1. What this means is if you own a small business and you don’t have a mobile app you need to seriously consider it because your competition is thinking about investing in one.
What is driving this growth is the change in the behavior of web surfers. In 2013 only about 10% of traffic was coming from mobile devices. As of 2016, that number grew to 60% and in 2017 it is expected to hit 70%.
According to a Gallup Survey, almost 75% of Americans check their smartphones once an hour. They also spend more time staring at their phones than they do watching TV.
Because of this increase in smartphone usage, the mobile app has become an important marketing tool for all companies big and small.
Some of the benefits of a mobile app include-
Increased customer engagement
A boost in customer repeat visits
Reduced marketing costs
Increased customer loyalty due to push-notifications, ease of payment and e-commerce transactions.
Increased value to customer with loyalty programs and special discounts
Increased brand recognition
Below are 11 detailed reasons why your small or medium sized business needs a mobile app
1. Mobile Apps load faster than a Mobile-Friendly Website
So you have a mobile responsive website, do you really need a mobile app as well? The answer is yes. According to a survey done by Flurry analytics people spend 90% of their time in apps as opposed to only 10% of their time using a browser.
Mobile apps provide a much faster alternative than mobile web browsing, that requires you to open a browser, input the URL and wait for the website to load. A mobile app can be opened at the touch of a button.
2. Improves Brand Recognition
Given that most people look at their phones an average of once an hour, the chances are good that they will see your icon on their phone. This gives a business more presence on a phone than a bookmark in the browser. Furthermore repeatedly seeing your brand’s logo on the user’s phone will have a subconscious effect. This is what advertisers call the “effective frequency.” In general seeing your logo 20 times or more will help create an emotional bond between the customer and your brand, provided that you have a good product or service. This helps create recognition and loyalty.
3. Increased Customer Engagement
Customers or clients download mobile apps because they want to quickly connect to your product or service. Businesses are using apps in order to improve the level of accessibility that customers have to them. Whether you are a restaurant, a law office, a doctor, a real estate agency, a spa or fitness club your customers need to be able to interact with you. Mobile apps can feature one-touch calling, automated email forms, comment or feedback forms.
In addition putting useful information such as medical, legal and real estate advice via videos, PDFs or social media posts, can keep customers coming back to your app. This raises your value and your brand awareness. New customers will buy from you if they know, like and trust you, and old customers will continue to buy from you if you provide them with useful products, information, and services.
4. Reduces Marketing Costs
The old school methods of marketing are becoming less effective. Magazines, billboards and television ads are expensive and it’s difficult to measure their effectiveness. A mobile app can simplify communications by directly messaging customers when you are having a sale, a new product is coming out, or there is a special event coming up eliminating the need to take out costly newspaper, magazine or TV ads. Furthermore, the app can then tell you how effective your notices are by providing data on which features were used and how much customer interaction there was. A mobile app can also reduce the staff workload by eliminating the need to constantly answer repetitive questions about upcoming functions, prices, menus, or booking information.
5. Reward your Most Loyal Customers, 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule says that a small number of customers (usually around 20%) will make up the majority of your sales. These customers are also known as your “regulars.” In general, the people most likely to download your mobile app will be your best clients/customers. Otherwise, why would they take up the memory on their phones? In order to reward them, you can provide them with special discounts, loyalty programs or unique offers only available to the app users.
6. Improve Customer Loyalty
Having a mobile app can also help to create customer loyalty. With all of the billboards, neon signs, TV ads, sign boards and emails, we are all constantly being bombarded with advertisements. Because of this your marketing message and influence can be diluted in a sea of competition. A mobile app that is constantly providing your customer with valuable content, advice or information about your industry will keep your customers just a phone tap away at all times.
7. Mobile scheduling and reminders.
If you are a service-oriented business, such as a doctor, personal trainer, lawyer or salon, then your clients will oftentimes need to schedule appointments before coming to see you. A mobile app allows them to sign in directly via their smartphone or tablet, eliminating the headaches of using a paper notebook and reducing paper waste. In addition, it frees up your assistant to do other more important tasks
8 . Mobile payments
Accepting payments via your mobile app is quick and convenient for your customers. Furthermore, when using payment services like PayPal or BrainTree it’s also secure. One of the main advantages of a mobile payment system is the fact that it can easily be integrated into other parts of your business such as accounting and taxes. This makes your business more streamlined and efficient and saves you both time and money.
9. Social media Integration
70% of the Internet traffic is video in 2017. That number is expected to grow as we head into 2020. If you are not using a combination of video, YouTube and Facebook to promote your business you need to be. A mobile app is a perfect medium by which users can view your videos, whether it’s tips on using beauty products, advice about dealing with a newborn, or information about legal matters, a mobile app is a convenient content delivery system. Of course, you can add not only videos but podcasts, PDF newsletters, social media posts or music as well.
10. Data Analytics
A mobile app can provide the business owner with valuable information about how your customers are using it. This includes things like which features are used most often, how many downloads you have, how many reservation or email forms were submitted and what products are the most popular.
11. Increase Reviews
Today the almighty review can make or break a business, especially for local brick and mortar stores or services. According to a survey done by Nielsen in 2012 about 70% of people trust general online reviews. Within your mobile app you can add links to online review services such as Yelp, Google Reviews or Trip Advisor. While you are not allowed to give incentives for positive reviews you can ask your customers, especially the happy ones to add one. This can have a positive impact on your business’ bottom line since these reviews count as citations by search engines such as Google and can earn you higher rankings. Furthermore, according to the Nielsen survey, 4 out of 5 people who visit Yelp do so because they intend to buy a product or service.
Cost and Types of Mobile Apps
So if you are a small or medium sized business owner you must take a look at getting a mobile app. If you are afraid that they are too expensive understand that over the last few years the changes in technology have drastically reduced the costs so that they are now competitive with the cost of building a website.
One other thing to be aware of is that unless your business has a special need for it, you should always get a native mobile app, not a hybrid. Native apps will run faster, perform better and be able to use all functions on the phone such as GPS, email, and the camera and are built in. While hybrid apps can work on more platforms, they are written in HTML 5, not Objective-C and Java. Thus they will feel cheaper, run slower and may not be able to use all the native functions of your tablet or smartphone.
If you have any questions or would like to have a custom native mobile app built for your business please contact us at info@BuildOurApp.com