Having a mobile app isn’t just for big businesses or tech companies. Your app can be a good way to build brand loyalty and business engagement and allow your business to offer something a little different from what your competitors may be offering.
Creating a smartphone app and training yourself and your employees requires an investment, both capital and time. You may be wondering whether it’s something your customers and potential customers would use. Would an app generate business and customer loyalty you wouldn’t get through an ordinary website?
A great way to boost your brand
Customers love the convenience of having a clear place to go on their smartphone or tablet to start a new transaction, track existing orders, pay invoices or find out information about your company. An app can save your customers the extra steps of navigating to a search engine, or otherwise, in order to get to your website.
You can build in customer features, like ways for them to log into their own account, give feedback or ask a question so that customized help is only a few taps away.
Make your app available in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store to create a new outlet for reaching customers. People searching for an app related to your industry may stumble upon yours, even if they didn’t previously know your company existed.
Customers like using apps
Your customers love your app because it gives them independence to take care of their transactions with you quickly and easily. Self-service is a huge benefit to them.
Even if you’re not yet selling through e-commerce, your app can still give customers information about your products and services. If your business is one that lends itself to repeat purchases, an app may be especially beneficial to you and your customers with reminders and scheduling.
Reach customers through your app
Think of your app as another communications channel, along with your website and social media presence. There’s a lot you can do:
Send messages. Use your app to reach out to customers through notifications, letting them know when you’re offering special deals, when you have updates on ongoing transactions, if you’re launching new products or when you have other news or information. While you don’t want to overdo notifications, as customers may block them or delete your app, they are a useful way to keep customers up to date. Using a CRM online platform can help you plan the content and timing of your communications.
Keep track of interactions. If it suits you and your customers, you can also use your app as a way to track activity between you. For instance, you can see which features of the app are most popular and make them more prominent, or see if there are sections of the app or products that people view and seem to get stuck on. Use this data to improve your app. App analytics tools can be integrated into your app to compile statistics on how it’s used.
Reward customers. Integrate loyalty programs and rewards into your app. Customers can simply access the app to see the current status of their rewards, and when they make transactions through the app, their loyalty points and pending rewards can be updated in real time.
Get customer details. You may be able to use location-tracking features in your app to see whether most of the people using it are local or farther away from you, which may change your marketing and delivery strategies.
How can I get started?
Building an app yourself or hiring someone to do it for you depends on the needs of your business, your level of tech skill and your budget.
If you take it on yourself, you will either need to have some coding experience or use a tool that doesn’t require coding. You can find good lists and reviews of app-building tools online.
If you’re hiring a professional to do it, take a look at their portfolio and get references from other local business owners or others in a similar industry to you. Talk to multiple vendors that can build an app and compare the features they can offer before signing a contract. Make sure that your contract specifies who will be responsible for keeping the app up to date with regard to changes in smartphone technology and security needs.
Put together your budget, taking into account all of the costs you might not see up front. For example, there could be charges to upload updated versions of your app to the Apple and Google stores, and some phone companies require a cut of in-app purchases.
What about after the launch?
Once you have a mobile app for your business, measure its effectiveness. Use analytics tools, surveys and even informal conversations with customers to see what they like about the app and then update it accordingly.
Most important, make sure customers know about the app. This could include posting on social media, including it on business flyers and receipts, putting up signs in your store or any other techniques that you use to promote your business.
Remember to stay aware of any updates you might need to make as new phone versions come out. After all the work to get it up and running, you want your app to look good and perform well.