As consumers spend more and more time on their smartphones, it is no longer enough for most businesses to simply rely on responsive Web design alone. Although the cost of app development is steadily increasing, having a simple app developed is well within the financial reach of most small- to medium-sized businesses. Contrary to what many small business owners think, mobile apps are not exclusively for the big global brands. After all, the mobile trend concerns every business from small local venues to massive global corporations. Mobile is now, after all, the platform where people are most likely to find you in the first place.
#1. Be More Visible to Customers
Since mobile is where most of your customers are, increasing your visibility on mobile devices is essential. While a mobile-friendly website will greatly help to boost your standing in mobile search results, an app will help to boost your visibility in the app store itself. Standing out among the 1.6 million apps in the Google Play Store might sound like an impossible task, but with some clever app-store optimization, you’ll be able to establish a presence there in a similar way to how search engine optimization boosts your website’s standing in the search results. Most importantly, however, an app allows you to be visible to your customers at all times.
#2. Leverage Push Notifications
Push notifications allow you to engage with your customers even when they are not actively using your app, although it’s also possible to create browser-based push notifications even if you don’t have an app of your own. Businesses use push notifications to provide their users with new information related to the app, such as check-in reminders and other alerts. While it’s important to use it sparingly for direct advertising, it can be useful for communicating with people, providing improved customer service, gaining insights into your target audience and delivering important messages of any other kind.
#3. Improve User Experience
With their tiny displays and on-screen virtual keyboards, smartphones will never provide the best browsing experience, but most people are happy to sacrifice functionality for mobility. Nonetheless, it’s essential to make the user experience as smooth as possible, and starting with a responsively designed website is only the first step. An app further improves user experience by offering more responsive interaction with your online resources, such as your website itself. As such, it also greatly reduces data usage, which is crucial for people using the Internet on the move. Additionally, an app can provide extensive offline functionality as well.
#4. Increase Brand Recognition
When you publish an app, it provides you the opportunity to create the perfect mobile platform for showcasing your products and services, thus increasing your brand’s visibility and recognition. A branded app should follow the same conventions that your website and other online and offline media uses, including the same fonts, colours, style of writing and anything else that defines your brand image. Effectively, a mobile app starts off as a blank slate which you can turn into something branded and unique, something that people will come to remember your company by. Once you get a few reviews in the app store, you’ll start getting noticed much more.
#5. Provide Customer Service
As any marketer should know, the power is squarely in the hands of consumers more than ever before. Providing prompt customer service is essential if you want to maintain positive ratings and reviews and build up a recognizable and trustworthy brand. Since an app allows you to get in contact with your customers quicker and more often, it’s ideal for providing prompt customer service with as little hassle as possible. In doing so, you’ll be able to cultivate customer loyalty. Apps are great for providing everything from quick and concise instructions and how-to guides to live support through an in-app messenger.
According to a survey by Pew Research in October 2015, over two-thirds of adults in the US owned a smartphone. Throughout Europe and other developed regions of the world, smartphone ownership is comparable to that in the US. Since today’s consumers are more connected than ever before thanks to the mobile devices they typically carry with them throughout the day, it should be clear to marketers why they need to prioritize mobile at every stage of the digital marketing mix. Having an app simplifies the process while also ensuring ease of use for consumers, making it very much worth the initial investment for the vast majority of businesses.