So, you have a small business. And a website. Life has been kind to you. But lately you have been thinking a lot about Apps. Many customers have asked you if you had an app? Many well-wishers have been harping on, asking you to have an app for your business. So should you go for an app for your business? Why? How will your business benefit from the app – let’s find out.
#1 Your competitor has an app and he is winning
The smartphones have won. Mobile digital media time is at 51% compared to that of desktop which is at 42% in US.
These stats imply that if you are a business and you aren’t there on your user’s phones with mobile websites and mobile apps, you are losing out. Your competitors who have a good mobile presence are gaining on you.
According to a research from Flurry, a mobile analytics company, of the total time we spend on smartphones, 86% of our time is spent in apps while only 14% is spent on mobile websites. If you want to be closer to your users you should develop an App which they can then download from the app stores.
The owners of Mount Royal Bagel Company of Montral wanted to start a branch in New Jersey. Their delicious bagels were baked in wood-burning oven. They needed a way to break into the markets of New Jersey and build a loyal customer base. They did it with the help of their mobile app which helped them immensely. 40% of their promotions with incentives, loyalty programs and online coupons now result in sales, 30% of their current customers have downloaded their app and they have over 1,400 loyal app users.
#2 Apps make the life of your users easy
Apps open quickly and are easy to use. They can be personalized.
Opening a browser and searching for a product a user is interested in on a smartphone can be a tedious exercise for him. Users prefer the ease of opening an app, making purchase and paying for it through the app. Most of the businesses know it. Users hate feeding the same personal information again and again. An app sorts out this issue. Good businesses ensure that the data they gather from their users is encrypted and stored safely. Customers can reach out to the businesses whenever they want.
Top rated CVS pharmaceutical app leveraged smartphone capabilities to ease the life of both the patients and the doctors. With the help of CVS app users can locate a nearby CVS store, perform key pharmacy and shopping tasks from home, collect digital coupons and redeem them all with a few taps on their smartphones. To encourage users to return to the app the app had features like medication refill – the user could scan prescription’s barcode with a camera and send it to the store; Drug interactions where users check if their prescribed medicine has any negative reactions with other medications and food groups.
You can also go with apps that save time, money and are of immense help to your clients.
According to a new report by Oracle, 71% of millennials like to use their apps to manage billing for the services they use through apps. 65% of millennials like the fact that they can flag issues and send their complaints to businesses with the help of apps installed in their phone.
Several productivity apps can work without internet connection. Core functionalities and data is downloaded onto the smartphone. Users can access the data and use the Apps even when not connected to internet. It is very helpful in areas where connectivity is poor.
And now you have the chatbots. These chat bots live on chat platforms and can be summoned when needed. You can get pizzas, flowers, groceries, medicines and more delivered right at your doorstep and you can book a table , or tickets to your favourite show pretty quickly too with the help of bots. You can read more about the chatbots here.
#3 You engage in a better way through apps
A good app is a good promotional and marketing strategy.
You can digitize your promotions and extend loyalty benefits and schemes to your regular customers through Apps. A customer does not need to visit a brick and mortar store to redeem his loyalty points, he can do it via his smartphone. As a business, you can attend to the needs of your customers individually. You can offer special discounts. You can send him reminders when the goods that are in his wish list arrive.
Forrester Research had good words for Chase Bank for its effective mobile solutions in its 2014 report when it topped Forrester Research’s mobile banking rankings. The bank was able to distinguish itself from its competitors with its smart mobile strategy of having Chase mobile apps for iOS and android. It proved to be of great value to its customers.
For 55% of millennials a brand experience on an app is more meaningful if it has location based services. Location based push notifications are also a very interesting way to promote your brand and services. You can send push notifications to people walking in one mile radius of your store offering them discounts and other promotional schemes. It increases your chances of having more walk-throughs. You create more awareness about your brand and products promotions.
#4 Apps help you track users in a better way
Once a user downloads and installs your app on his smartphone, you get a huge window of opportunity to collect data to analyse it later to predict user behavior. You will know if the user is happy with the app. You can spot patterns in his behavior and can tweak your app to serve him better.
You can track his navigation, see the number of features he uses and the in-app purchases he has made. You can send promotional push notifications for the things he is searching for. You can know the optimal time to reach him.
If the users have installed your app, you can take your marketing efforts up a notch by having beacons in your brick and mortar store if you have one.
Tracking beacons – small wireless devices designed to use Bluetooth’s low energy to broadcast signals to smartphone apps are the latest in in-store technology. They are increasingly being used by retailers the world over. According to Business Insider, there will be 4.5 million active beacons by the end of year 2018; 3.5 million of them will be used by retailers. If you embed Wi-Fi or GPS in an app you can gather specifics about where your customer spends most time in a shop and this information can be used by the retailer later by offering him good deals when he is home.
UK retailers House of Fraser, Hawes & Curtis and Bentalls have installed beacons in display mannequins to provide the customers information about special offers, outfits that they display in their stores. Customers need to install the apps to receive the transmitted information. You can read more about the beacons here in a very interesting post.
You can use tools like Google Analytics, Flurry Analytics, Apsalar and UXCam to analyse the data the apps collect. These tools will help you collect data from apps and will help you analyse end-user behaviour and mobile application usage. You can then know details like what’s on the app user’s shopping list, how long they use the app, when do they drop off, average session length, and average revenue per user (ARPU).
#5 You get more users, more downloads and more sales
There always are fence sitters who observe, mull over a hundred things and then take the plunge. A good app drives these fence sitters into the sales funnel. Once a user installs your app on his smartphone, you get a toe hold. It is the way you engage, your interface, creativity, persistence, quality of your products and services that will finally motivate him to upgrade the app or buy something from you.
Furniture Giant IKEA changed the way it promotes its catalogue in 2013. The IKEA catalogue with catalog app changed the game for them. Their Fall’ 2014 mobile catalogue app became the number one downloaded app for a brand globally with 8.5 million downloads. This app had the element of augmented reality built in it – it enabled the users to place virtual furniture at home. Users selected a piece of furniture, then they put the catalogue itself on the ground where it acted as an anchor for the 3-D image of the selected chair or table. If the furniture needed to be rotated, the user could do it by rotating the catalogue.
The aim of the app was to improve the selection and purchasing process. Marty Martson, Product Public Relations Manager at IKEA US, said, “Some people are afraid that they’re going to make the wrong colour choice or the style might not look good with the other styles that they’re trying to mix and match it with or just not look good in that space, so they may not buy it, and that’s unfortunate because maybe it’s exactly what they need. So we think that this augmented reality feature may be a solution for some people to really help them with that buying decision in the process.”
You will need to promote your app through different marketing strategies for more downloads to increase your sales. Build a website, make some promotional videos, promote your app on social media sites, offer your users special discounts for making in- app purchases after downloading and installing your apps. There are many ways to gather users for your apps. You can read user acquisition tips in a wonderful series Part-1, Part-2, Part-3 and Part-4 by clicking on the links.
“If deployed effectively, apps can transform business processes, significantly reduce costs and generate valuable business intelligence and analytics which might have previously been unobtainable,” said Rob Mannion, Managing Director of RNF Digital Innovation. A bad app can hurt your business. It is true in case of millennials who are not so forgiving. According to a research by Oracle, 55% of millennials said a poor app experience would put them off using a company’s products and services. Nearly 40% said they wouldn’t recommend a company to others if an app experience wasn’t up to scratch.
Where browsers fail, apps succeed. Apps are for specific purposes that cannot be handled as well via web browsers. Apps provide you the leeway to be interactive. Some of them can work even when there is no internet connection. If complex calculations, reports, graphs, charts etc. are to be made, if processing is required- an app can help very effectively in these scenarios. Do not build an app if your needs and requirements are being met by a browser. If you need interactive content or data, go ahead plan and develop your mobile app.
Your business needs an app if you want to provide better engagement and more value to your customers. Don’t forget the app occupies premium space on user’s smartphones. You need to make sure it enriches life – only then your app can stay at your user’s screen for long.