If you were under the impression that mobile applications are exclusively for the household-name brands with a seemingly endless supply of marketing budget, check your calendar as you may still be living in 2010.
In the last 6 years, the mobile app industry has seen some tremendous growth, with both Android and IOS stores boasting over 2 million applications as of 2015.
It seems in fact that more and more small and medium sized businesses are looking to capitalise on this growing trend by developing a mobile application of their own, but how could your business really benefit? Well considering over 70% of people in the UK own a smartphone and download applications on a regular basis, you could potentially be missing out on a fair chunk of business, so if you’re interested in joining the mobile app train, let’s see what we can expect.
Apps are an effective promotional tool
Many companies believe a well-designed, responsive website alone is enough to maintain business success. While a website is obviously an essential tool to sell products, services and promote your business online, offering users a mobile app is often a quicker, easier and more novel way for them to shop and interact with your brand.
Quick, simple, fun. This is what consumers are looking for from their shopping experience, and given that 30% of all online purchases occur on mobile, there are ever more reasons for businesses to cater to multi-channel consumers.
Not only does an app offer additional value to your customers, it also doubles as an effective promotional tool and platform. Mobile users browsing their app stores will be introduced to your brand (perhaps briefly as they scroll past you), but they are now aware you exist. Couple that with an eye catching icon and you’ve got their interest. They may not choose to download your app on first glance, however your bright, bold icon will be sure to catch their attention time and again until they submit.
You can reach & Acquire more customers
These days, multichannel marketing is all the rage. It’s a simple concept; customers are more likely to buy from you when presented with a few choices, for example they can choose to buy your products online, through a catalogue or on their phone through your mobile app – whichever works best for them.
Not only does this offer the consumer a range of purchasing decisions, featuring your business over multiple marketing platforms also makes it more likely for new customers to hear about your brand who might have never stumbled across you originally.
You can also include core functionality within your app and incentivise your existing customers to invite their friends to join. Take Raffler for example, the app works by watching two adverts and getting entered into a daily prize draw, for free. They don’t sell any products; however, they promise to add £100 to your prize for every friend that you refer.
While this is a mad and insanely effective method of customer acquisition, it must be said that you must first win the prize draw to claim the money.
Needless to say, a customer referral functionality can work wonders for your inbound marketing, simply by offering each user £10 credit to your store for every friend they refer.
It’s an additional revenue stream
If you ask 100 business owners if they’d like more revenue from their business, I guarantee you at least 99 of them would answer with a resounding YES. So additional revenue is a main goal for many companies, can a mobile app really bring in that much more money?
It all depends on what your app does to push promotional content and pull consumer statistics & data.
Let’s be realistic: How often do you think your customers check their emails from you? They may have signed up to your newsletter through your website, but how many people do you think read them religiously? They must be missing out on deals and offers right?
With a mobile app, this is mitigated through push notifications, so you can present your customers with a discount, personalised offer or voucher directly into their app. This has the potential to significantly increase conversions with promotional offers. However, you must be careful with this as you have the potential to annoy and alienate your customers.
A promotional platform isn’t the only benefit with a mobile app. Thanks to innovations in geo-location and data collection, you can collect your user’s location data to pitch them exclusive, location-based offers and geo-targeted, dynamic adverts that are hyper-relevant to your customers. This has the potential to significantly increase conversions, while keeping your users satisfied in the discount-department.
Cultivate Consumer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is an essential metric in today’s fast paced digital shopping environment and many large brands dedicate a large number of resources to cultivate and maintain it, for the simple fact that it is cheaper to retain customers than it is to acquire them.
With a mobile application, cultivating customer loyalty has become as easy and efficient as ever by including loyalty scheme features. Take Starbucks for example, their app’s core functionality is built around cultivating consumer loyalty, with features including the ability to check your rewards balance, accumulating rewards and discounts, sending gift cards, apple watch & payment features and even the ability to place an order and pay for your coffee even before you get to the store. Suffice to say, Starbucks is leading the field when it comes to loyalty.
Whilst many of these features are unachievable for medium sized businesses, there is still a lot we can learn from what they offer to their customers and how they have improved their app to offer their customers even more value, with the idea of saving their users time and making their transaction a frictionless and hassle free experience.
Outperform your Competitors
In order to appeal to customers more so than your competitors, you must offer more than just great products and an app to feature them on, you must offer them an exciting and valuable user experience.
So just what can you include in your app to improve your users’ experience? You may not be able to go all out like Starbucks, but to sum it all up, some essential things to consider include:
- A fluid UX with simple navigation and easy to locate functions (you don’t want to make it difficult to find the add to basket button or the checkout page as this would really be shooting yourself in the foot)
- A streamlined checkout experience with step by step process (trying to squish all the payment processes on one tiny mobile screen is going to be messy and inconvenient)
- Multiple payment gateways, for example paypal & stripe (many of your users are likely to use paypal and usually can’t be asked to enter all their card details)
- Push notifications and messages of latest offers, discounts and relevant promotions
- Brand continuity (it is important for your brand’s logo & associated colours within the app must be consistent with your brand image for immediate recognition)
- Customer referral functionality (give your customers an incentive to invite their friends to your app for improved user acquisition)
- Customer Loyalty functionality (it’s never too early to start building a loyal customer base and a loyalty feature within your app is a great place to start)
Considering all this, it’s surprising to have ever doubted the effectiveness of a mobile app for business, and with mobile use and mcommerce increasing year after year, it might be a good time to consider developing an app for your brand.