The world of mobile devices and the myriad of ways we use them is continually growing and evolving at a sometimes head-spinning rate. We’ve talked about mobile-friendly websites before, and the importance of responsive design for your business. But what about small business mobile apps? Are they really necessary given the myriad of marketing options that exist for small business? It only takes a handful of statistics to show the staggering opportunities that exist for businesses who invest in mobile marketing.

  • Mobile commerce is now 30 percent of all U.S. commerce, and mobile commerce sales are expected to reach $142B in 2016.
  • In 2015, the number of people in the U.S. who only use mobile devices to access the Internet exceeded the number of people who only use desktop computers to do the same.
  • Fifty-two percent of the U.S. population looks at its smartphones multiple times per hour.

It can be hard to know how to start building your mobile marketing strategy. Indeed, there are many directions your business might go, all with their own unique potential benefits. With the enormous growth of mobile and the opportunity for expansion in that space, today, we will focus on mobile apps.

Why apps? To begin, 89 percent of consumers spend their mobile media time in apps. Additionally, it’s much easier to stand out among the 26 apps that the average mobile user has on their smartphone, versus the millions of different websites that are accessible through a mobile browser. And, with new technology that’s available to businesses today, it can be quick and easy to develop and launch a mobile app.

We sat down with our own mobile marketing expert, Angie Murphy, to ask her a few common questions small business owners have about creating a mobile app.

Q: I have a mobile website. Isn’t a mobile app the same thing?

On the surface, it can seem like a mobile website and a mobile app would serve a similar purpose for a business, but, in fact, they have different – and complementary – uses. Mobile websites are informational, and an excellent way to help people to find out about your business. Mobile apps are functional. They are good at driving return business and cultivating loyalty among your customers.

Let’s say a new customer discovers your business by doing a Google search on their mobile phone. Your mobile website comes up, and they click on it to see where you’re located and your hours of operation. The customer makes a transaction and learns about your mobile app, which they download on their phone. You then use the app to deliver a coupon to your new customer. They open your app and enticed by the coupon you offered, they purchase with your business again. Now that they have your app, you award them loyalty points for each transaction they make. This motivates them to interact with your business again. And so on.

Q: How can my small business benefit from a mobile app?

There are a few major ways that your business may benefit from having a small business mobile app.

Reward loyal customers to encourage repeat business:

An app provides you with an easy way to recognize and reward your most valuable customers. For example, you could create a digital “punch card” that tracks purchases and rewards repeat business. Or, you could set up “check-in” functionality that unlocks special offers when a customer visits you. Everything is stored on the customer’s phone, which they probably have with them every time they visit your business.

Communicate with your customers anytime, any place:

An app gives you the opportunity to communicate with your customers 24/7. Need to send out a message about a sale? Confirm a reservation? Invite guests to a special event at your store? Use your app’s push notifications. Statistics show that up to 60 percent of people open push notifications and about 40 percent engage with the app immediately following the notification.

Create Revenue Channels:

In-app features such as online shopping carts, product catalogs, food ordering, and mobile reservations provide additional opportunities for your customers to interact with your business.

Gain Valuable Insights:

App metrics give you relevant details about how your customers are interacting with your business. For example, while social media or online advertising might give you a number of impressions, an app gives you visits, check outs, purchases, search data, and more.

Q: How would my customers find out about my mobile app?

There are many ways you can let your customers know about your mobile app. A few suggestions:

  • Promote it on your website
  • Send out an email campaign
  • Post about it on social media
  • Put up signs or hand out flyers
  • Give your customers a special offer to motivate them to download it

Q: Isn’t it really expensive to develop a mobile app?

Five years ago, the answer to that question would have been a resounding “yes.” At that time, the average price tag to build a custom app was $100K or more. But technology has advanced.

We’re excited to release a brand new service to our customers that makes building apps scalable and affordable. If you’d like to learn more or get early access to our new mobile apps program, fill out this form, and we’ll be in touch shortly.

© 2016 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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