Does Your Small Business Need an App?
Big businesses can streamline processes and encourage customer loyalty by providing an app. National insurance providers, for instance, might give customers an app to allow them to take photos of an accident, attach those photos to a claim, and upload the claim directly from the scene.
But does a small business have a need for a mobile app? Sure, a growing number of consumers are using a mobile device to find your website, but if you have a mobile-friendly website, your mobile customers can find the information they need there. Still, there are ways a mobile app can help your business foster loyalty and improve the overall customer experience. Before you invest money in developing an app, here are a few things to consider.
Pro: An App Is More Visible
Rather than being required to navigate to your website on a mobile browser, an app embeds itself in a user’s operating system, with an icon regularly reminding them to pay your business a visit. If you can convince customers to download your app in the first place, they’ll be more likely to pay it a visit every now and then.
Pro: Ease of Use
Apps give customers the opportunity to easily view account information, including past orders and the status of pending orders. The customer is also able to choose how often to receive notifications from your business. An app also gives a business owner more control over the user experience, since viewing lists of products and services, placing orders, and entering payment information can be customized for the exact operating system being used.
Con: An App May Limit Your Reach
Today’s apps are split between Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry operating systems. Unless you plan to pay a developer to create an app for all four, chances are you’ll be forced to stick with the most popular (Android or iOS), which will eliminate a portion of your customers. A mobile-optimized website, on the other hand, adjusts for the device being used.
Con: Customers May be Reluctant to Download
When a customer downloads an app, it’s a much greater commitment than simply visiting your site. To entice customers to even try the app out in the first place, you may have to offer an incentive, like providing regular coupons through the app. At the very least, be prepared to invest money in marketing your app and even then, you may find your app is far less used than you’d hoped.
Before you spend the money to develop an app, ask yourself some serious questions. Will your customers download and use the app frequently enough to make it worth it? Are there benefits to having an app versus providing those same benefits through your mobile site? And, perhaps most importantly, does your app provide a real value to your customers?
If there are good business arguments for an app, poll your customers and try to determine which mobile operating system will be most likely to satisfy your particular audience. By taking time in the planning phase to ask these questions, you may save money and headaches in the long run.