Mobile Apps as a Marketing Tool for Small Business
The term “App” is now an officially recognized word, no longer simply an abbreviation. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase “There’s an app for that,” you are in the diminishing minority. But, what exactly is a mobile app and how does it apply to your company?
A mobile app is an internet software application specifically designed for smartphones and tablets. They assist, educate or entertain your customers as part of their daily activities. Due to storage limitations on cell phones, they are correspondingly limited with respect to functionality. Great, but how does your small business benefit from a mobile app?
First of all, understand that mobile apps are not a passing fad. Here are some truly mind-blowing stats to consider:
- Mobile search accounts for about 25% of all paid ad search clicks on Google’s Adwords platform. That’s up from 5% in January of 2011.
- Four in five consumers use a smartphone to shop.
- 25% of consumers shop online with a mobile device only.
- 40% of cell phone users will go to a competitor’s site if the mobile experience is poor.
- 64% of app users view companies with mobile apps favorably.
Each of those numbers is low compared to where they are headed. By 2014, mobile internet usage will likely surpass desktop usage, as the desktop computer of today goes the way of the typewriter and cathode ray television.
Now that we have your attention…
Like many trends, the benefits to getting on-board early are significant. But, how can today be termed “early” when there are already more than 1.2 million mobile apps out there? How can anyone possibly expect to find your single droplet app in that sea?
The answer lies within SoLoMo: get social, spend local, and think mobile. Have you noticed how often a local result now pops up on your computer when you do a search, even when you don’t specify any local search terms? Google to a large degree and Yahoo and Bing to a lesser degree are now returning local results more frequently, as they know that most people want to support their local communities first. This means your app has an excellent chance to show up in great position when it is properly designed and maintained.
Apple or Android?
It used to be that the iOS platform for Apple had so many more apps, people were buying iPhones for that reason alone. Now, the playing field is more level, and it doesn’t much matter that Android has 500,000 apps and Apple has 700,000. What matters to you is how effectively your app monetizes back to you. (Note: since Blackberry and, much to Microsoft’s dismay, Windows Phone together total less than 10% of the cell phone market, neither should be of much concern right now. But, keep an eye on Windows Phone.)
At this stage of the game, if you had to choose between the two, Apple wins by a nose. It is still the best value for apps, even though Apple phones represent only 17% of the world market. How can that be? Why doesn’t it make more sense to put an app on Android if it has 68% of the market? The operative word is “world.” In the U.S., the differential is down to 58% Android and 36% Apple. Don’t settle for iPhone or Android, make sure your app is set up for both platforms.
Don’t do it yourself!
Just as you can build your own website, you can build your own mobile app. And, just as self-built websites are limited with respect to features and search placement, do-it-yourself app builders offer little when it come to setting up payment platforms, creative updates, couponing, notifications, and overall design.
Another mistake small business people make too often is failing to make their employees aware of the addition of an app or any other Internet feature. Your company appears disjointed and poorly managed when the entire team is not up on your latest updates.
Here’s a suggestion – set up a mobile app and offer an incentive to download it to a phone. Word will travel fast within your local market and if properly implemented, your app will soon be sitting next to Angry Birds on your customers’ smartphones.