For small business, apps are no longer optional. A well-developed smartphone app is a crucial part of marketing and customer service. Why is that?
People today are glued to their mobile devices. It’s common knowledge, and research backs it up. Pew Research performed a study last year showing that 64% of adults own a smartphone. Bank of America surveyed 1,000 of their customers, and found that 71% of them sleep with their mobile device within reach, or even in their hand. Meanwhile, digital marketing blog Smart Insights found that 89% of mobile device use is spent on apps, not websites.
The barrier to entry for custom small business apps is very low these days. With the rise of outsourced development houses, a business of any size can and should have its own iOS and Android apps. There are many, many potential benefits to the business and its customers. Here are a few of the most prevalent.
5 Reasons Your Small Business Needs an App
1. Add Value for the Customer – Small business apps are an excellent opportunity to create stickiness in your customer base. Loyalty cards and coupons are a time-tested way to keep customers coming back, and combining them with the convenience of a mobile app makes them even better. Whole Foods uses this strategy well, with its digital coupons that are exclusive to the app. By allowing customers to simply scan their phone to apply all available coupons at once, the health food giant makes the app superior to traditional paper coupons.
2. Maintain Brand Visibility – Another survey on smartphone usage, this one conducted by Nielsen last year, found that the average US mobile device has 27 apps installed at any given time. Regardless of how many apps are installed on your customers’ devices, it behooves your brand to have your app be one of them. Even if your app is not heavily used, your customers can’t help but glance at it every time they pick up the phone. Ensuring your logo is one of the icons on the screen as they scroll through apps maintains brand awareness, which can only be a good thing.
3. Notifications – An installed app is an opportunity to message your customers on their favorite screen. Product updates, sales, events, and news are all fair game to beam straight to the people you want to reach. A news ticker or popup on app launch is an excellent way to keep your customers informed of happenings at your company, while the judicious application of push notifications can mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and one that ends with a whimper. Just be careful not to overdo it, or you risk customers disabling notifications.
4. Streamline Customer Service – The help or support button in a mobile app can be a powerful tool. The convenience of the app is a prime opportunity to introduce customers to a knowledge base or other self-help solutions that can prevent your customer service resources from being stretched thin. If the knowledge base doesn’t resolve the issue, integrate support ticketing features, email, online chat, or even initiating a call to the help desk can make the support experience much quicker and less frustrating for your customer. An excellent example is auto insurance agency Metromile, which features separate buttons in its app for directly calling the claims department, roadside assistance, and customer service.
5. Offer Something Unique – Despite the numerous benefits of small business apps, they have not achieved universal adoption. By offering an app at all, your business sets itself apart from the crowd. You might be surprised at just how many customers and prospects embrace the opportunity to interact with your company on their smartphone. By ensuring your app is well-designed and useful, you will cement your business as a valuable addition to your customers’ digital lives.