4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Having a Mobile App

They’re in all of our pockets now, aren’t they?


I’m talking, of course, about mobile devices. And the core functionality of those devices (other than making phone calls, I’ve been told) is to run a whole host of applications that serve nearly every imaginable purpose.


Businesses from all corners of the world, offering a ridiculous range of products, have begun migrating from the physical world of handing out leaflets, printing advertisements, and hanging billboards, to the mobile realm. And you should too

Now, I know what you might be thinking:
Our business doesn’t need a mobile app to sell products to our loyal customers!
And maybe that’s been the case in the past. But if you want to prepare for the future and start seeing the massive benefits right out the gate, you’ll need a mobile app.


Not so easily convinced? Then here are 4 ways (and then some) that your business will reap the benefits of creating a mobile app for your customers.

1. Provide More Value to Your Customers

Business is all about reciprocation. You offer a product, the market opens their wallets with their demand, right?
Maybe you’ve sat down with your employees and tried to nail down the best way to encourage more of this wallet-opening engagement from your customers. You want to increase their interaction with your business to promote sales, of course, but you also want to provide a level of value for your customers that they can’t get anywhere else.


One way to do this is create a loyalty program within your app. It would work like this:
The more customers interact with your business and product, the more points they collect, which can in turn be used for great deals on the products they already know they want.


Starbucks uses their mobile app to their advantage by offering rewards exclusively to app subscribers, which then motivates customers to buy coffee (And other delicious snacks) from them. They’re even more ahead of the curve by allowing their users to pay directly from the app, speeding up the whole transaction process.

If you already have a program like this in place – great. You can incorporate it into your mobile app, digitizing the entire process, making data on their purchases available to you instantly. If you don’t have one, get on it, fast.


And when your customers see their points adding up in real time (rather than having to send in points in the mail or wait until they can access your website to enter them manually), they’ll be impressed and more enticed to follow up on their purchases in the future.

2. Build a Stronger Brand

One of the most important things a mobile app offers to consumers is awareness of and communication with your brand. And through that regular interaction with your target market, you’re fostering trust.


The more your audience trusts you, the more likely they’ll be to listen to later sales pitches and even commit to your brand. With an app, you’ll demonstrate to your users why they should trust you by showing (rather than telling) what your brand stands for.


In the same way as distributing fridge magnets, calendars, and other random memorabilia with your company logo on it has served in the past both as advertisement and assistance, mobile apps strengthen your brand and educate your customers.


That’s why so many businesses across all the major sectors are developing strategies for mobile apps. Check out this data from the Red Hat Mobile Maturity Survey 2015:

3. Connect Better with Customers

Customer service isn’t just about face to face communication between smiling sales associates and customers anymore.


Since 2.6 billion people now have high-powered mobile devices within arm’s reach at all times, the true game-changer in customer service is now mobile apps.


Why?
Firstly, your app won’t be merely a human being, subject to mood swings and poor performance.


And, through a solid mobile presence, you’ll always know you’re presenting to the customer the same face – an interface geared specifically to provide them with the best experience of studying and deciding whether they want to buy your product.


In fact, the vast majority of marketers see their apps as a means to primarily improve customer service.

Without sounding creepy, your business is always with your customer. (Okay, maybe there’s no way around that one.)


But think about it. If a person hears about your app in the middle of the night and wants to get information ASAP, all they have to do is turn on their device and download your app. Later, when a thought pops into their head that they should buy your product, they can do it immediately, without having to wait for regular business hours when normal human beings are awake.


So, if customer service is one of your top priorities (like it should be), mobile apps are the answer to raising customer satisfaction across the board.

4. Boost Profits

When customer satisfaction increases, sales typically do too. In fact, according to SalesForce, 70 percent of buying experiences are influenced by how customers feel they’re being treated.


The more interested and pleased people become with your product and your business, the greater consumer demand will grow. And let me assure you, if you have a product your customers can’t wait to get their hands on, that demand is going to provide you with some serious returns.


That’s where the mobile app comes in like none other.
Sure, you should have a website with a responsible design that can adapt to any of the various mobile devices there are now. This eliminates the necessity of having a frustrating, secondary “mobile” site to manage. But if you launch a mobile app in addition to your responsive website, you’ll boost sales while enhancing the customer experience.


According to Techcrunch.com, 35.4 percent of Black Friday sales last year were completed on mobile devices. That’s up from the 16 percent they were just a few years ago, according to 2012 IBM Holiday Benchmark Reports.

When Domino’s Pizza created a mobile app for ordering delivery or in-store pickup of their food, they saw an ecommerce rise of 28 percent in half-year pre-tax profits in the UK alone. And I know I’d rather use their app than actually call the store.


In fact, mobile devices now account for 52 percent of their online orders.


Are you seeing a trend here? If you aren’t using a mobile app that encourages more purchases while making it easier and more exciting for your customers to press the “buy” button, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of change from an ever-growing market.

Other Benefits of a Mobile App

If these points haven’t solidified in your brain the necessity of a mobile app, there are still more reasons to consider adopting a mobile app strategy to encourage more customer engagement and satisfaction.

  • Inform users of new products and offers
  • Stand out from the competition
  • Reach out to younger demographics
  • Sync users’ email and social media accounts


And if you structure it correctly, you can receive a ton of analytics on exactly how people interact with your app. These range from the average time a user spends looking at your app, to the amount of money you make from every purchase.

Another point to think about is location data. Apps are now, more than ever, providing their creators with location data on their users. If you were to apply this to your business, you could learn when and where people were purchasing your products most often, or which parts of the world are most interested in your business.


Once you finally decide to develop your app, it may simply start out as a portal to the same options you’ve made available on your company website. But it has room to evolve into so much more. Eventually, you might even rely on your app to inform you as to the new directions you can take your business to continue confidently into the future.

If your business were to continue operating without this functionality, you might be left in the dark on these data while your competition takes advantage of it to skyrocket their sales and expand their businesses.

The Bottom Line

90 percent of companies plan to increase investment in mobile apps in 2016. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll be left behind your competitors.

And no, a mobile app may not save your business, but it is a sure way of securing a strong presence in your industry. Instead of being some abstract concept of a brand your customers appreciate, that they imagine has a headquarters in some faraway city – you’ll be right in their pockets. Your logo will be placed on their mobile phone screens by default.


The convenience factor coupled with the undeniably cool element of new, rapidly evolving technology will place your business on the forefront of your industry. And hey, don’t you want to pull your device out of your pocket and play around on something you helped create?

Does your business have a mobile app? Why or why not? Share your thoughts below in the comments section!

Source: Buildfire.com

Unravelling the Myth: An App Isn’t Just an App

What comes to mind when you hear the word “app”? Do you think of a game? Something you can’t live without? Or simply a cool gadget on your phone?

Small business owners often shut down when they hear the word “app” being pitched. They, understandably, think there is no money or time to invest in an app ⎼ especially if they don’t even have any other online presence set up yet. Small businesses might see apps as just a gimmicky addition to their marketing portfolio.

But here’s the thing: an app might actually be the one thing that can help the business significantly grow. Why? Because an app is not just a mobile application; an app is a complete mobile marketing solution. If it is executed correctly, a small business will see a significant increase in revenue and customer engagement. Ultimately, this tool won’t be an extra expense, it will save the business a lot of money. How? An app, or mobile solution, can rethink a small business’ social presence, local presence and mobile presence, as well as turn its best customers into marketers.

Busting The Myth

We have labeled it “ReThink”. More specifically, the Rethink Strategy redefines the way you think about customer experience, customer loyalty, customer advocacy and company ranking. This strategy will also allow small business owners to understand the benefits of a mobile solution.

Rethink Experience:

experience

The first step of the Rethink Strategy is to analyse which experiences would be better facilitated through a mobile solution. In other words, how can the customer experience be improved at a particular business?

Traditionally, companies have emphasized “touchpoints”, referring to the critical moments when customers interact with a brand during their purchasing process. However, a shift is taking place as successful companies focus on the customer journey in its entirety. According to Harvard Business Review’s research, “organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction”. A mobile solution allows any business to move away from mere touch points and start addressing this customer journey as a whole.

For instance, a local restaurant might implement mobile food ordering. Customers now have the option to place an order with the tap of a button through an app. This translates into not having to wait in line, not having to make a phone call, and not needing to go through the hassle of paying at the establishment. As a result, the patrons are provided with a more pleasurable and convenient experience at the restaurant. So, instead of merely improving the “sales touchpoint” at the cash register, the small business is able to improve the entire encounter starting with the purchase process.

Rethink Loyalty:

loyalty

An improved customer experience, then, builds loyalty. The better the experience at the establishment, the more likely people are to return. And the way a small business deals with loyalty can also be rethought with a mobile solution.

Every business, whether a mom-and-pop shop or a global company, relies on loyal customers for success. Loyal customers account for 20% of a company’s customers. While that might not seem impressive at first glance, that 20% drives 80% of a business’s total revenue and 72% of total visits to the establishment. This data clearly shows that it is more profitable for businesses to go after customer retention than customer acquisition – however, many do the exact opposite. In fact, it costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.

The best way to drive customer retention? A loyalty program. What’s more, 87% of shoppers say they want loyalty programs and 68% of millennials say they won’t be loyal to a brand if it doesn’t have a good loyalty program. Besides the high demand for it, loyalty programs can be extremely beneficial to the company’s bottom line. Loyalty programs increase overall revenue by 5-10%, with loyal members spending more money and buying more frequently than non-members. A mobile solution, then, allows a small business to focus on what is most important and beneficial to their growth.

For example, a salon can implement a mobile stamp card, rewarding customers with a free haircut when it’s complete. For the customer, this means no longer losing a physical punch card and carrying around 20 different rewards cards. Customers now feel that every purchase they make amounts to something bigger. This, again, contributes to a positive customer journey. As a result, rethinking (or implementing) the mobile loyalty strategy can increase repeat business.

Rethink Advocacy:

advocacy

Now that a loyal following has been built, a small business should empower their customers to spread the word. Through an app, customers can easily be prompted to share their opinion on social media, produce online reviews or send a referral.

We all know that people love to talk about things they love (and hate). So if they are a loyal and happy customer, it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to share their thoughts with others. Think of traditional word-of-mouth, as a happy customers tells two people about their experience, and those two people each tell another two people. According to Entrepreneur, word-of-mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. A mobile solution can help in doing so – by rethinking experience (as was mentioned above). In addition, Nielsen states that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising – 10 times more effective to be exact. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing, then, is the most powerful form of advertising a small business can have, as each happy customer can steer dozens of new ones their way.

A gym might send out a push notification to its members, for example, asking them to rate the establishment. Members who frequently go to that gym will be encouraged to leave a positive review or share on social media. Now potential customers will come across these reviews when researching gyms online, making a strong case for the small business.

Rethink Reach:

reach

This stronger online presence will lead to the final stage of the ReThink Strategy, namely Reach. More reviews allow you to rank higher on directory websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato, making sure local businesses are found.

Reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so small business should make acquiring them a priority. Businesses who want to appear in Google’s local 3-pack need to have a high volume of good reviews. A better online ranking will increase exposure and bring in new customers who, in turn, can become advocates for the business.

Imagine you are in the mood for an acai bowl (we love those here in San Diego), but you don’t know where to get one. You’ll most likely conduct an online search, perhaps by typing in “acai bowl in San Diego”. What will pop up are Google’s 3 local listings, showing the most popular places to get this snack. Below that will probably be the yelp list for “best acai bowls in San Diego”. You will most likely eat an acai bowl at one of these places, not going beyond those search results. A mobile solution will help a small business rank for these desirable positions by acquiring an abundance of reviews.

ReThink Results

This brings the Rethink Strategy full circle, with new customers coming through (online) word-of-mouth marketing and embarking on the ReThink journey themselves. Not only does each stage of the mobile model improve the experience, it ultimately grows the entire business:

A 1-star increase on Yelp has been proven to translate to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
A 5% increase in customer retention will increase profitability by 25%.
Adopting a mobile solution can save a business an average cost of $5,000  annually.

Conclusion

So, we definitely busted that myth! An app is not just an app. An app can be a mobile solution that redefines the entire customer journey and brings about significant growth. A mobile solution has real tangible results, often making them an integral part of the business. The data suggests small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55%), improve customer experience (50%) and to become competitors in a specific market (50%). According to recent studies, nearly half of small businesses are expected to adopt a mobile app by 2017. The features that an app can have (e.g. mobile food ordering, reservations, loyalty programs) are more than add-ons, each of these are benefits of a complete mobile solution that can help a company save or make money. It’s time for local owners to welcome a mobile solution into their small business.

How has an app transformed your small businesses or the local businesses in your area? Share your experiences in the comments!

Free online digital marketing course

BUSINESSES in Dorset are being given the chance to skill up their workforce with an innovative online digital marketing course – for free.

And companies in Bournemouth and the surrounding areas who sign up to the fully funded nationally accredited course, Digital Promotion for Business, will also receive at no charge their own tailored free smartphone app worth £3,000.

Offered by Digital Dorset, the programme aims to improve the skills needed to increase the competitiveness of businesses and give the best opportunity to grow the economy and create more and better jobs.

It is thought 12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills, while 5.8 million have never used the internet at all, according to a recent report.

The Level 2 NCFE accredited distance-learning course aims to meet the demand for digital media for businesses and is online so employees can complete the course at their own speed.

Content includes help on how to use more effectively social networking sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to boost a business’s online presence.

The smartphone app complements the digital marketing strategy and offers a wide range of features to attract new customers and keep in touch with current customers.

These include push notifications - free messages sent out to people who have downloaded the app – and a loyalty scheme to retain custom and social media integration.

Neil Harding, managing director of Digital Dorset, said: “The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind online.
“We are all spending more and more time on our mobiles, tablets and laptops, while many of our working days are also spent in front of a screen.
“That’s why businesses need to understand how working practices are changing, and this course has been developed to meet this need.
“With this offer, not only does the business invest in its workforce by upskilling them, it also gets a free app to market itself using a medium that its customers are using more and more.”
Places and funding are limited