- Personalizing interactions and engaging customers through push notifications, location alerts, and easy-to-access payment systems can improve your customer experience.
- A good mobile app will provide a faster checkout process, which can boost sales and customer satisfaction.
- A mobile app for your business allows customers to browse your store and make purchases anywhere, even on the go.
People rely on their mobile devices for everything, from communicating and networking to managing their finances and purchasing products. This is why developing a mobile app for your business is crucial to build brand awareness and a loyal audience.
A mobile app is your customers' portal to your business. Depending on the features it has, it can facilitate customer interaction with your brand, allow customers to make purchases and give them a line of communication with your business. It helps you understand and better address the customer's needs, which are important aspects of business growth and the customer experience.
How can a mobile app help your business?
Mobile apps can help your business in several ways. These applications can deliver unique experiences for your users that are not achievable with desktop solutions, according to Mariusz Karwowski, an Android developer at Netguru. Here are some of the specific benefits Karwowski points to:
In-app payments: Mobile apps can improve the customer experience with convenient payment options.
Mobile notifications: Push notifications are a simple way of engaging with your customers, which helps you retain them.
Geolocation: This feature lets you know when customers are near your store so you can offer discounts or coupons to encourage them to visit.
- A/B testing: You can test users' preferences to inform your marketing strategies by presenting different groups with a different user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
"When your business is missing a mobile application, or even a website adapted for mobile, you are excluding a large group of potential customers," Karwowski told Business News Daily. "Nowadays, everybody has a personal computer in their pocket, and allowing users to access essential services from their phones should be a high priority."
Research from Clutch found that 42% of small businesses currently have a mobile app and 30% plan to build one in the future. The study offered a reliable process that business owners can use to analyze whether or not they should invest in a mobile app:
- Consider your customers' journey with your business and analyze your communications with them. Would a mobile app improve or simplify these interactions?
- Decide if a mobile app will truly impact your business. Set clear goals for what you want to accomplish with the app. Will it increase sales? Will it boost customer loyalty?
- Set metrics related to your goals that your business can use to measure success, such as how many customers sign up for push notifications or email newsletters.
- Launch the cheapest version of your mobile app to gauge interest.
- If the cheapest version shows promise, continue developing the mobile app.
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Mobile apps can increase sales by offering your customers a more convenient way to browse and shop, allowing them to make purchases from wherever they are. You could even use your app to alert your customers to new deals, products and events.
An app can give your business a constant presence on your customers' phones, offering easily accessible information right at their fingertips. Zach Cusimano, chief of staff at People.ai, 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," he 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."
Praveen Seshadri, CEO of 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.
Should you build a mobile app or a mobile website?
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 could help your business evolve with the increasingly mobile-centric consumer base.
Whether you should build a mobile app comes down to distribution and usage, according to Kevin Vigneault, product design director for Viget.
"If your audience uses your service or tool once a year, they likely won't take the time to find the app, download it and learn how to use it," he said. "But if it's something they'll engage with several times a month, it's worth considering. Having an app is a commitment, and it becomes a liability if people aren't going to use it very often."
Mobile apps load faster than mobile websites and have the added benefit of push notifications. Additionally, mobile apps offer offline capabilities, while a mobile website can't.
There are some limitations to what mobile apps can do, especially on iOS, said Joe Wilson, owner of Volare Systems. "If you can work around those limitations, we recommend starting with a progressive web application, which will work on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Customers can find your app through a search engine and can try it out without the app store barrier."
Wilson says that business owners won't have to share revenue with the app store in this case, and the option to add your app to iOS and Android app stores will remain available if a demand rises in the future.
What should you take into consideration when building a mobile app?
You might consider making multiple versions of your mobile app to ensure access on all major platforms, offering more inclusivity and reach for your business. For example, if your mobile app is only compatible with iOS, you'll miss out on marketing your business to Android users.
Constant feature reengineering ensures your mobile app is offering the best user journey while new device types develop, according to Siddharth Vishwanathan, developer of the Maths A Day app. He said there are four key aspects to consider when creating a mobile app:
1. Native vs. non-native
Native apps are developed for specific platforms and installed on specific devices. Non-native (or hybrid) apps are web-enabled applications that are available via web browser on a mobile device.
2. In-house vs. outsourced development
In-house development means using your own staff to develop software according to your company's specific requirements. Outsourcing is hiring a third-party contractor to complete software-related work.
3. Mobile app features
The features within your mobile app affect your traffic and customer retention. For example, loyalty programs can encourage users to return to your app consistently.
4. Pricing models
Price structures like premium, freemium and subscription models can cause your customer base to fluctuate based on your product or service. The ideal pricing model consists of an app that is free to download but offers in-app purchases and subscriptions.
How can you use social media to market your mobile app?
Social media helps you reach a wider customer base, some of whom may not have been a part of your target audience. Tools such as paid advertisements, user-generated content and influencer marketing can attract more potential customers.
Mobile apps and social media can feed off each other to increase customer satisfaction, revenue, and the relevant data you collect, according to Dave Wood, director of global sales and retail solutions at Chetu.
"If a customer allows a mobile app to access their social media accounts, then relevant data about that customer's interests can be leveraged by the app," he said. "Conversely, sponsored advertisements from a business on social media can pique a customer's interest and link directly to their mobile app to complete the sales cycle without ever having to leave their phone."
Wood believes the primary obstacle to app engagement is getting customers to download the app and begin using it. You can integrate your business's social media with your app to keep customers informed of any news about your brand or relevant sales information.
A digital brand strategy is integral to building a connection with your customer base, especially for emerging businesses, according to Andy Dunn, senior vice president of digital consumer brands at Walmart and co-founder of Bonobos.
"These emerging brands have a deep level of connectivity with the consumer," said Dunn in the Deloitte Insights Tech Trends 2019 report. "It's all about great products, great customer service, a story told through social media, lots of data and iterative feedback loops."
The experience creation process is a dynamic feedback loop that turns interactions into insights. By actively using social media throughout this process, you can increase the number of consumer interactions with your brand across various channels, including mobile apps, social media, call centers and app stores.
Mobile apps for business provide opportunities for personalization and interaction with consumers. With features like loyalty programs and push notifications, they can increase revenue streams by prompting increased browsing activity, user engagement and purchases. [Ready to build your mobile app for business? Check out business.com's best picks for DIY app makers.]