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Your Small Business Needs A Mobile App

August 10, 2018

In the last decade, mobile devices have become more versatile and powerful. You can now use your mobile or tablet with just as much speed as a desktop or laptop. The challenge is that mobile devices do have limitations, mainly with how they display websites or interact with them.

Mobile browsing is now greater than desktop browsing; research has discovered that 51% of time browsing the internet is done so via a mobile device. Other studies have found the only digital growth in the past few years has been through mobile web browsing.

Changing consumer behavior has also led to Google stating that they will include the mobile friendliness of websites in their search ranking algorithms.

Business Apps

While making your website mobile friendly is one solution, it can be limiting, and there is another option to help your business meet customer expectations - mobile apps.

There was a 12% growth in mobile app usage between December 2013 and December 2015. Within a business, apps can be very useful. For example, customers can use a mobile app to upload information to your business, such as tax information or information for quotes.

The restaurant industry is particularly starting to embrace mobile technology. Waiting staff can be provided with a mobile app to take paper-free orders and send them directly to the kitchen. Alternatively, customers can input their own orders and pay for them. This new technology has benefited customers, staff and business owners.

Retailers can use similar apps for the same tasks, offering customers a way to order before they get to the store and then just pick up their goods once they arrive.

Your Business Needs An App

The advantages of mobile apps are so significant that 90% of businesses are planning to increase their mobile strategy expenditure. Therefore, if you don’t move soon and start to build a mobile app, your business could become left behind while your competition gets ahead.

Your app shouldn’t just be a limited extension of your website. Otherwise, there is little point in its development, and it becomes just a cost. Here are some ideas of how you can use a mobile app to help you increase customer spending and retention:

1. Create A Loyalty Program

By creating an app based loyalty program, the more users interact with your app, the greater the rewards they receive. This could be translated to ‘app currency’ that could be exchanged for real-life purchases such as a free coffee or a discount voucher.

You could enhance this tactic by offering gamification of the rewards. Offer users the chance to earn more in-app currency by watching product adverts, sharing information about your app on social media or giving you a review on a popular review site.

Gamification is a powerful tool for your business, and as apps are associated with gaming, users will be less resistant to your attempts to interact with them.

2. Push Notifications

Push notifications are when you ping a message to your app users. These messages are often ways to attract users back to using your app. In most mobile app games, they use the lure of free in-app currency to attract users back. If you use in-app currency, then this can be a good way to attract users to your app.

Another push notification you can use is the need to update their profile or to submit information (such as tax information, energy usage, etc.).

Finally, another push notification could be based on what deals you currently have. This is best done with personalization. For instance, if you notice your user prefers to buy dairy-free products, you can promote those products via push notifications when you have them on offer. This reduces your interruption to your user’s lives while making them more aware of relevant deals.

3. Marketing Lists

Another advantage of mobile apps is that they can help you increase the subscribers you have on other marketing lists. This might include mobile marketing or email marketing. Simply having a signup form on your mobile app can support this activity.

However, you can increase the conversion of users to subscribers by offering a reward for their details. This could be free in-app currency or a free discount.

4. Integrate Operations

Link your mobile app to your customer accounts and give them live updates on order and service progression. For instance, if you are delivering products to their home address, include information on where the product currently is in the delivery process.

Another option would be to send invoices and receipts to your customers via a mobile app. With the right security, you could also make it easier for your customers to pay for your services by including an integrated payment system.

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5. Social Shares

While mobile app usage is on the rise, so still is the use of social media. Therefore, integrate your app with your social media profiles. Ensure that users can easily flick between your app and social media profiles so they can follow and share your content.

This not only increases your interactions with each customer but can also improve your website’s page ranking on search engines (via an improved social media score) and social reach with your target audience.

Your Business App, Your Customer’s Experience

The success of your business’ mobile app hinges on the experience your users have. If it isn’t stable (i.e. it breaks, crashes, slows down their device), then your app won’t be very popular. Mobile app users are very proficient in reviewing, and a set of bad reviews of your app could not just damage its reputation, but the reputation of your entire brand.

Therefore, always be sure you are testing your business’ app to the full extent. You should also look at regularly updating your app to meet with growing customer expectations. For example, adding functions and fixing bugs.

Finally, you should look at your app and check whether it is as streamlined as possible. A chunky business app isn’t going to be popular, will take up loads of memory on a user’s device and will not be used as frequently as you might expect.

Have You Got A Business App?

A business app could project your brand to the next level, exposing it to millions of app users the world over, however they can be very costly to develop and maintain. Speak to a trusted financial team to discuss the financial realities should you decide to take on such a project.

Christopher Ragain, CPA

Christopher Ragain, CPA is the founder of Halon Tax and one of the industries top authorities on micro-business taxation and tax planning.

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