It’s a given – the number of people downloading mobile apps is increasing substantially. A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center found that 50% of adult mobile phone users have at least one app to their smartphone, double the 2009 numbers.
Business owners who are taking advantage of this new world of mobile marketing are reaping the benefits and capturing market share. Web.com’s Small Business Mobile Survey of 500 US small business owners found that:
- Of the businesses who had implemented a mobile marketing strategy, 84% report that they saw an increase in new business activity as a result.
- 64% state that they will increase their mobile marketing efforts in 2012.
- 69% believe mobile marketing will be a key to business growth over the next 5 years.
- Top reasons given for turning to mobile marketing: to provide better service to existing customers, to attract more local customers & to gain a competitive advantage.
When it comes to a mobile marketing strategy, the very first thing that your business needs to do immediately is to make sure that your website is mobile friendly, or better yet, a stand alone mobile website AND make sure that you are using local SEO that is geared towards mobile devices.
Released in February 2012, Google’s Our Mobile Planet: Global Smartphone Users report provides some powerful numbers.* In the US…
- 92% report that they use their smart phones to conduct local searches. Of these, 21% acted on that information by making a purchase from the business online and 25% made a purchase in-store.
- 51% called a business, 49% looked up the business on a map, 48% visited the actual business and 47% went to the business website – all after conducting a search from their mobile device.
- 63% of mobile shoppers state that they make monthly purchases from their smartphone.
- A significant number stated their smartphone has a direct result on their buying decisions. 39% carry their mobile devices specifically so they can research information and compare products – with 32% reporting they changed their mind about a product while in a store because of information they found on their mobile device.
- US participants in the Google study had an average of 26 apps downloaded on their smart phones, 11 of which were used within 30 days of the survey.
* Comprehensive global report worth reading if you are considering a mobile marketing strategy.
The evidence is pretty clear that a mobile presence is as important as having a website. But in today’s mobile world it may not be enough to stay in front of the competition.
Big businesses like Amazon, eBay, Target, and Gap, started promoting their brands and merchandise with Mobile Apps a few years ago. It used to be that even the simplest of mobile apps required a skilled developer and extensive knowledge of coding – something that most small business owners, sole proprietors and entrepreneurs simply could not afford. But those days are gone.
Advancements have been made that now make mobile apps for businesses one of the most affordable and effective ways to reach out to customers on a personal basis.
Benefits for your Business
- Reinforce your brand and build stronger relationships with your customers
- Increase your visibility, exposure and accessibility
- Increase sell-through rates and generate repeat business
- Enable you to connect you with on-the-go consumers
- Enhance your social networking strategies
Benefits for your Customers
- One-touch contact information makes it easy for consumers to get in touch with you through direct dial, email and chat functions.
- Easy access to your services and inventory, which is especially important for consumers who are mobile.
- Fast and efficient systems make appointment scheduling, reminders and rescheduling available from anywhere and at anytime.
- Direct access to current sales and promotions – when and where they need them, without having to print and carry coupons.
- A well designed app will provide consumers with “extras” that make them want to come back. For example, if you are a restaurant owner, building in a tip calculator will keep your brand in front of your customers – even when they are using it somewhere else.
It is important to consider both function and form when creating a vision for your business’s mobile application.
Function – What will the app do?
The Google Chrome developer resources page offers some advice that will be helpful in determining the function of your app. Ask yourself…
What do you actually want to provide for users? This is something that only you can answer, but you might want to think about how you can service your current users better if you had the opportunity to use all the latest open web technologies. Things like notifications, location based services and/or beautiful graphics rank high in the priority list of lots of publishers and developers, but each publisher is different and has different priorities.
Information from a summer 2011 study by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project provides information about the types of apps that adults download, which can be useful in helping you decide what kind of extras to add to your app (beyond the information about your business of course).
Form: How will the App do it?
Once you have the vision clearly defined, you can then decide the form factor of this new app and its actual functionality. What will your app look like? What you decide for the final form of your app will be affected upon your budget. Depending upon the app development solution you use, especially if you are going the DIY route, you will have different advantages and limitations. We will discuss the features and benefits of different DIY App programs for small businesses in upcoming article.
Is your business ready to attract mobile consumers or are you missing out on a golden opportunity? I hope that this article has helped you to start thinking about implementing a mobile marketing and utilizing custom apps as a way to help improve the bottom line of your business. Here are a few articles that provide some more information to get you going…
- NY Times – Even Small Players Can Seize the Day With an App Strategy
- CRN Article – How To Use Mobile Business Apps To Increase Sales
- ZDNET – 3 considerations guiding SMB mobile app development
- Small Biz Community – DIY Apps: Yes, your small business can get ’appy all by itself