Ever heard the words “There’s an app for that”? No better known words could have ushered in the age of mobile apps. Fun fact: a 2009 iPhone 3G commercial first used the slogan. It became such a hit in the media that Apple actually trademarked it.
Less than a decade later, mobile apps are everywhere. We use them for work, when we shop, dine out, book flights, pay bills, get the news, talk with friends, watch our favorite shows, or listen to music we love - for everything we do online or offline - there’s an app for that.™
Why is this important to your business? Consider these figures:
- For 2017, the number of mobile phone users is forecasted to reach 4.77 billion (or more than half of the world’s current population) and is expected to pass the 5 billion mark by 2019. | Statista
- By 2018, the number of mobile users that are smartphone users is expected to reach over 50 percent, with 2.7 billion smartphone users worldwide by 2019. | Statista
- Number of mobile app downloads worldwide in 2016: 149.3 billion
- Number of mobile app downloads worldwide by 2021: 352.9 billion | Statista
In this age of smartphones, being mobile means not just having a mobile-friendly site. For many businesses, apps are fast-becoming the go-to platform to reach more customers, engage better with them, and generate more profit.
Still on the fence whether your business needs a mobile app? Here are the five ways a mobile app can boost your small business across the board.
Do innovative marketing
With mobile comes the rise of location-based technology that opens up a world of possibilities for marketers. The use of beacons, especially in the retail and service industries, has made it easy for brands to reach customers.
An example of this is the luxury department store, Barneys New York which deployed beacons in its flagship store and integrated it in their mobile app. Users who have granted access to their location get to receive notifications or recommendations on what’s in stock based on their wish lists or digital shopping bags.
By leveraging location-based technology via a mobile app, your brick and mortar business can now easily target customers in the moment - sending special offers, flash sale notifications, or compelling product info - making them more likely to make in-store or online purchases.
Foster customer loyalty
Beyond the singular purchase, how else could you provide more value to your customers? What can encourage them to return to your store?
You can build a loyalty program right into your mobile app. This typically takes the form of giving in-app discounts, credits or a points-system, coupons, or other exclusive offerings. Rewarding loyalty creates an effective incentive for customers to perform actions that benefit them.
This is what Starbucks excels in. Their official app keeps users connected to their cards so they can just scan to pay while earning stars. They can then collect, track, and redeem these stars with Starbucks Rewards ™ program. The app’s gift section also allows users to send gifts and coupons to their friends via the app - cleverly encouraging a more widespread use of the app among their users’ network.
With a business mobile app you can craft a rewards program that not only fosters customer loyalty but builds a relationship that goes beyond their purchase.
Gain customer insights
As customers interact with your mobile app, they generate all kinds of data. Using these data, you can gain insights about your customers. Not just who you think are your target customers, but the ones you probably least expect to be your customers.
Nothing gives insight like real-world data. You can identify your strongest and promising demographic segments, your most profitable season, campaign or product. It gives you an idea about your customer needs, upcoming trends, and even the overall performance of your app.
With insights gathered from how your customers use your app, you can make smarter decisions in terms of product/service improvement, new business opportunities, and of course, marketing strategy.
Improve customer service
In its 2017 survey of 335 US small business owners and managers, B2B research and review firm Clutch found that improving customer service is one of the top reasons small businesses decide to build a mobile app.
With the ease and convenience of mobile, customers now prefer using apps to engage with brands and services they need. Having a mobile app indeed is a win-win for both your business and your customers.
For your end, a mobile app can automate existing processes and even reinvent them to increase efficiency. You can showcase your products/services beyond your online site.
In turn, your app can enable your users to book online, place advance orders, make mobile payments, easily access information and help. Integrating your app with your social channels also opens avenues for customer feedback and reviews while also boosting your brand.
With your mobile app you’ve now expanded marketing reach, built customer loyalty, gained insights that feed into improving your customer service, and overall, increased your customers’ satisfaction. When customer satisfaction goes up, sales naturally follow.
By having a dedicated mobile app, you’ve not only reap the above mentioned benefits. You’ve also opened a new revenue channel for your business. Aside from building in the feature where you enable mobile payments for your customers, you can also monetize the app itself through: having paid features, in-app ads, subscription fee, or putting a price tag on the app.
- Global mobile app revenue in 2016: $88.3 billion
- Global mobile app revenue forecast for 2020: $188.9 billion
- Global paid-for mobile app revenues in 2017: $29 billion
- Worldwide in-app purchase revenues in 2017: $37 billion
With apps becoming increasingly central to our modern lives, going mobile via apps isn’t a “nice to have” option anymore. Nor is it a trend that’s going to pass. Mobile users are now a significant customer base which will only grow in the coming years as the technology becomes more accessible to everyone. If your customers are now on mobile, why not be there as well? To ignore this spells a huge risk of having your business left behind.
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