If you are a small business owner and your business does not have a mobile app, you need to get one. Having a web presence alone is no longer sufficient, as online activity continues to shift to mobile. Simply put, smartphone apps have become too important a marketing tool for small business owners to do without.
Smartphone usage has been on a tear as of late. Nearly three-quarters of Americans check their mobile phones at least once per hour, according to a Gallup survey. Almost all – 90 percent – of that mobile-phone time is now devoted to using apps, analysis reveals. Americans now spend more time looking at their mobile phones than they do watching television.
This rise in mobile-phone usage means that smartphone apps have become a key marketing tool for companies of all sizes, including small businesses. Mobile apps increase engagement with customers. They boost repeat visits, and permit a wide variety of online transactions, including the deployment of loyalty cards, push promotions, and ecommerce transactions. Apps deliver coupons and send announcements that build your sales with customers. Apps also accelerate contact with your company, which enhances relationships with customers in a world where speedy responses are prized by buyers. Smartphone icons even help build brands by providing a visual design that customers recognize.
Many small-business owners still think that getting an app is expensive and difficult. They are worried about the need to build different apps for the various platforms customers are on – iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry. They are unsure about building dynamic or static apps, and the difficulty of coming up with an app design. Moreover, most small-business owners don’t have the expertise to build apps themselves.
A few young companies are simplifying the process of creating and testing mobile-phone apps, putting the tools easily in small-business owners’ price range., GoBizMobi a rapidly growing young company out of San Francisco and Alaska, for instance, provides small business owners with a template that lets them build a complete mobile app, with a wide range of features – from blog RSS feeds to loyalty cards to food ordering systems to mobile reservations – for both iOS and Android in about an hour. Moreover, their drag-and-drop system allows owners to develop their own apps, host them, and collect usage data in a straightforward manner.
Another young Alaska based company, AppsMakerWorld, can help you completely build your app so you do absolutely nothing. They do all the heavy lifting for you and you just pay a small monthly fee ranging from $29 to $99 a month.
With companies like AppsMakerWord and GoBizMobi on the market, small businesses can now build their own app or have one built for them easily and cheaply. Even the smallest companies can now take advantage of the benefits that a mobile app can provide in attracting customers, speeding sales, and building a brand.
Article Written By: SCOTT SHANE, Professor Case Western Reserve University