Should You Invest in an App for Your Small Business?
By now, I'm sure you've heard the term "there's an app for that" at some point in time. Let's face it - in today's digital age, apps for everything are everywhere. There are apps for your phone, your tablet, and your computer. This is because businesses, both big and small, want to offer easy-to-use applications to make their customers' lives easier.
Mobile business apps have become almost necessary for many types and sizes of business. Apps can actually be an excellent tool for helping small businesses build and engage with their customer base, drive up their sales, and improve their reputation.
Over time, developing apps for businesses has definitely become easier and more cost-effective, yet still requires lots of maintenance and updates. Here are some things you may want to consider before investing in a mobile app:
Things to Consider
Is it something your business needs?
Think about all of the things an app can do for businesses - it can increase engagement, complete registrations, and accept payments, just to name a few. Would any app functionalities benefit your business?
Also, consider if these same functions can be accomplished simply with a mobile-friendly website. If the functions you want an app to serve are pretty simple and straightforward, a mobile website may be all you really need. A responsive design can drive customers to learn more about your business on their phones, rather than bookmarking your site to return to later (if they don't forget) on their computers.
If there's no definitive functionality that makes an app different and better than your mobile website, it ends up making the hard work you put into your web design redundant, and it's probably not necessary.
Would it be beneficial to your customers?
Think about all the apps you have on your phone right now for the individual businesses you visit. How many of those apps have you downloaded and used once before completely forgetting about it?
A forgotten app is worse than not having one at all. Your customers need a reason to use and return to your app, whether it's for better convenience or unlocking special features.
For example, if you operate a martial arts studio, an app may help your customers check schedules and sign up for classes while on the go, potentially increasing your attendance rate.
If you have a business that requires an appointment, such as a hair salon, an app can help clients easily schedule appointments when they remember they need to book their service. While an app might duplicate the scheduling service offered on your website, it will make it easier for people to follow through with their intent to visit your business.
Apps can also entice people with rewards programs by tracking and managing customer visits. An app would also make it easier for you to attract customers with targeted specials, such as coupons, discounts, and other incentives.
Do your competitors also have apps?
When trying to determine whether your business should invest in an app, it's essential to research what your competition is doing. Are they currently offering an app? If so, check out their statistics in the app stores, such as the number of downloads and user reviews. If it seems like their app is doing well, you may want to consider investing in an app as well to offer your customers similar or even better functionality.
Would it simplify conversions?
One of the major reasons why mobile commerce conversion rates fall behind desktop ones is due to the clumsiness of inputting billing and shipping information on a mobile device. If your business is one that relies on repeat customers, such as an e-commerce store or delivery service, an app may be useful in eliminating the tedious entry of important information, thus leading to increased sales.
Is it something you can afford?
App development and design can typically cost anywhere between $5,000 and $500,000 depending on the type of detail and functionality you want, as well as the developer you are working with. If you happen to be tech-savvy and want to develop an app yourself, consider the time your employees will be spending on the project rather than other work.
After an app is launched, it still needs maintenance and care. You'll have to publish updates and fix any bugs. Your team will need to work quickly to adapt your app accordingly, or you can work with a developer who can do it for you.
Now that we've gone over some things to think about when determining whether or not an app is right for your business, let's get into some of the great features an app can provide:
Apps Can Make it Easier to Promote Your Products and Services
Mobile applications can make your business stand out and, with timely updates, can help your customers develop a greater interest in your products or services. An app can also help you save money and time in place of other promotional techniques, such as newspaper or billboard ads.
Both websites and apps are great marketing tools that make promoting and selling your products much easier. Your app can feature product descriptions and reviews that will give your business an edge over the competition.
Increase Engagement with Your Customers
Businesses have an excellent opportunity to interact with their customers in real-time with mobile apps. You can offer promotions, opinion polls, and more to engage your customers. If you want to maintain a good business, the buyer-seller relationship should continue even after the purchase is already complete. Customers should be given a chance to engage and voice their opinions. This can all be accomplished with a responsive website as well. Still, depending on your business type and goals, it may be easier to achieve with an app.
It Can Help Your Sales
If you have a specific product you'd like to sell out before a certain period, you can send limited-time promotional coupons to your customers via your mobile app. These promotions encourage sales and provide your business with some publicity.
If your app is available on different app stores and is being advertised online, most likely, a lot more people will find about your products and services, thus leading to an increase in sales. Mobile apps can be integrated with social media as well, meaning your app can help your business reach a wider online audience.
Gather Important Information
Apps can help you track total downloads, user engagement, real-time feedback, and products that customers like the most. It will also help you determine how to make your products and services more customer-oriented.
Return on Investment
You might be worried about the cost of developing a mobile app for your business. Discuss the cost with your developer and see if the benefits of creating an app outweigh the initial cost of investment.
If you want to discuss the best options for your business, you can contact one of our developers at AnoLogix. We'd be happy to help you review your options and determine what investments are right for the growth and success of your business.
If I already have a mobile-friendly website, do I really need a mobile app?
Like we mentioned before, there are some things to consider when determining whether or not your business could benefit from having a mobile application. Take a look at some of the functionalities and advantages that both websites and mobile apps have to offer:
- When it comes to marketing objectives, mobile websites are great for attracting new customers. Mobile apps are great for creating loyal customers.
- When it comes to how they are used, customers visiting a mobile website open a browser and enter the URL. Customers visiting a mobile app tap an icon on the screen of their smartphone or tablet.
- When it comes to user interaction, customers using a mobile website visit the site, complete an action, and exit. Customers using a mobile app open the app, which remains two-way and ongoing through push notifications.
- When it comes to marketing advantages, mobile websites are typically more responsive to search queries, whereas mobile apps encourage loyalty, engagement, and are easy to use. The app resides on the user's device.
If you decide to invest in a mobile app, the most successful marketing strategy is to use your website to attract new customers and encourage them to download your app. This creates the opportunity for ongoing relationships through engagement, loyalty, and personalized shopping experiences.
What are some of the most popular app features?
If you decide on creating an app for your business, you'll want to determine what you want it to accomplish. These goals generally fall under either acquisition, conversion, or engagement. Once you have figured out what your goals are, consider the features your app will require in order to achieve them. Some popular app features include:
- Push Notifications - a valuable app feature that enables timely and relevant communication to your customers that won't get marked as SPAM. When this is combined with location-based messaging, these notifications can provide a personalized experience for your customers.
- Mobile Shopping and Payments - this is a must-have feature for many mobile apps, as it makes it possible and simple for your customers to shop for and purchase products and services from you.
- Social Media Integration - this feature allows you to integrate all of your social media platforms, which makes it even easier for your customers to connect and engage with you.
- Loyalty Program Integration - a feature that allows you to manage your loyalty program through your app, so customers can acquire, watch, and redeem their points with their mobile device.
- Virtual Reality - this feature allows you to show clients how something may look on them (like a new hairstyle or a pair of earrings) or in their room (such as a couch or bedframe). Interactive features such as these can work as a significant marketing tool for some businesses.
- Geolocation - this feature gives you insight into where your customers are and can provide customers with detailed directions on how to find you. This also allows for location-based coupons or specials.
- Smart Updates - a feature that allows you to sync content and push updates across all digital channels through your mobile application.
- One-Click Contact - add all of your contact information (phone number, email, and social media profiles) and allow customers to reach out to you in just one tap.
Once you've figured out what you want your app to do and what features it needs to have, here are some things to keep in mind:
- What is your budget for this project? Make sure you take into account development, support, and marketing costs.
- What is your timeline? Are there special events that would work well or hinder the app's launch that you need to remain aware of?
- What platform will you use for your new business app? Google Analytics can give you some insight into what devices your customers are using.
- How will you build and support your small business app? While you can create feature-filled and attractive apps yourself using specific platforms, you can also look into hiring an app developer. Choose what's right for your business.
By considering the things above, you can begin creating a roadmap for your app development and decision-making moving forward.
Mobile applications can offer fantastic marketing opportunities for small businesses, but, in order to add value to your business, they need to have clear goals and an audience. Depending on your business, you may only need a responsive website that can be viewed on any device. However, some businesses may benefit greatly from investing in a mobile app that allows them to build a loyal customer base, gain a competitive advantage, engage with their customers, and promote their products and services.
In today's digital world, it's more important than ever for businesses to have an excellent online presence. Whether your small business needs a website, a mobile app, digital marketing help, graphic design, or help with brand identity and logo design, our team at AnoLogix is equipped to handle the job. We love to see small businesses grow and be successful. Our goal is to become lifelong partners with our clients and ensure that their websites and mobile applications get the support and care they need to thrive. So, if you have any questions about whether or not a mobile app would be right for your small business, reach out to us today!
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