Having a web presence is an absolute given for every business, but, more and more, consumer expectations are evolving such that also having a mobile app is as, if not more, essential. With online activity shifting continuously to mobile, and smartphone adoption extensive, smartphone apps are providing some of the most constructive customer service and marketing tools available and small businesses need to keep up with this trend.
Though creating an app may seem a difficult and expensive task, particularly considering the need to develop builds for the various platforms and test them across a range of devices, many cost-effective routes for creating and testing an app are available including user-friendly templated mobile app creation tools. There are also several services available to help with bug-testing processes, a necessity since users stuck with buggy apps are likely to be even more frustrated by glitches than having no mobile app access at all.
How Small Businesses Benefit from Mobile Apps
- Loyalty Programs
An excellent way to encourage customers to engage with your mobile application is through loyalty or rewards programs linked directly with the app; providing early access to specials and exclusive deals, customers will feel appreciated and more readily return. Additionally, loyalty programs have long provided businesses with the means of collecting client data; mobile app loyalty programs have evolved this strategy.
Creating personalized and real-time marketing campaigns through beacons and geo-targeting is increasingly popular; customers receive relevant promotions at just the right moment, heightening the instrumental ‘instant gratification’ element of marketing and sales.
- Mobile Appointments
Businesses that provide the means for customers to make appointments via their mobile apps make interaction easier and see greater engagement; providing reminders of appointments is another excellent value-add.
- Customer Service
For a little while, email was a communication revolution, followed closely by social media. Today, mobile communication services are vital. Offering a communication channel via your business’s mobile app means customers have the personal contact they need without any hassle. Some of the best channels will include necessary customer information, order and chat history, and previous problems and resolutions so that service agents have all the details they need to ensure smooth interactions.
- Mobile Payments
Saving time, boosting customer convenience, and ensuring completed sales transactions; what more could you want? Along with mobile loyalty programs, providing mobile payment options also helps businesses get their hands on valuable customer data for use in on-going marketing and customer engagement programs.
Improving Your Mobile Strategy
With the benefits of mobile deployment clear, all that’s left is creating a smart mobile strategy. Though not directly related to mobile applications, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is the first step in a solid mobile strategy; users comfortable surfing your site on mobile are more likely to look for your app, and this is also the place to encourage app downloading. A responsive design for both mobile site and application is also a must; anything fiddly or buggy will chase customers away.
With the development in place, getting customers onto mobile applications takes focus; social media, email, and even text campaigns have proved instrumental, particularly considering how many people already use their mobile phones to interact through these channels. Nothing could be easier than clicking a link that takes you directly to your mobile app store for instant download. Outside of the mobile environment QR codes and abbreviated URLs simplify the process of connecting users with your app; don’t underestimate your customers’ need for ease – after all, that’s the whole point of a mobile app.
Considering that mobile technology is one of the fastest growing technologies of all time, and smartphone adoption rates sky high, mobile implementation couldn’t be more crucial. Startups and small businesses, recognized for their customer-centric approaches, cannot lag in this sphere.
By Jennifer Klostermann