Is your business thinking about building a mobile app? Now might be the time to do it: As smartphone and tablet adoption reaches near ubiquity, business owners are realizing that a mobile presence is becoming a necessity.
Clutch, a business-to-business research and review company, revealed that less than a quarter of small businesses currently have a mobile app, but that number is growing as businesses see the value in app development. In fact, Clutch's survey found that nearly half of small businesses plan to have a mobile app by 2017.
"Three years ago, a small business might [have seen] 10 percent of its total traffic coming from mobile, but right now, it's closer to 70 percent," Viktor Marohnic, CEO of app builder Shoutem, said in a statement. "Within the next couple of years, a shift to a mobile app … will become obvious."
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So, aside from following popular demand, why create an app? According to Clutch's survey, here are the top three reasons small business owners built their apps. [See Related Story: 5 Mobile App Myths Stifling Your Business]
Increase sales. Fifty-five percent of Clutch's survey respondents said their app was designed to boost sales. Marohnic noted that a good mobile app can facilitate quick checkout for a purchase, which ultimately leads to a sales increase. Apps can offer a more convenient way to browse and shop, allowing customers to make purchases from anywhere, he said. Companies can even choose to alert their customers for new deals, products, events, etc.
Improve the customer experience. An app can give your business a constant presence on customers' phones, offering easily accessible information right at their fingertips. Zach Cusimano, chief operating officer of Bizness Apps app maker, said this constant presence can improve the customer experience.
"A mobile-friendly website and a mobile app are both very valuable tools, but they have different purposes," Cusimano said. "Mobile apps are … best suited for user retention and engaging with clients. They're not aimed at random people finding a company's website, but are more about rewarding loyal customers."
Compete in a specific market. If small businesses wish to compete with others in their market, they must adapt to these changes and uphold a strong presence on mobile devices. Praveen Seshadri, CEO of app platform AppSheet, said small business owners understand how mobile technology can help them run their business better, and he foresees more businesses implementing internal apps to make operations run more smoothly.
The Clutch survey also found that the following elements are the most valuable to include in small business apps:
- Customer loyalty features, to provide rewards to customers who are devoted to the business.
- Social networking, to direct customers to other platforms associated with the company.
- Push notifications, to allow businesses to keep close contact with news, updates, deals, etc.
- Personalization, so businesses can personalize interactions and engage customers through push notifications, location alerts, loyalty rewards and easy-to-access payment systems.
It's important to remember that a mobile app is not the same as a mobile-friendly website, and many unique features within your app can be better developed and more engaging than web elements. Creating an app now will help small businesses evolve with their increasingly mobile-centric customers.
Ready to build your app? Check out Business News Daily's best picks for DIY app makers here.