Mobile Applications for Businesses: A Need in 2021
With more than 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide (which is roughly 83% of the global population), there is an unlimited pool of growth opportunities for any business when it comes to mobile applications. The projections for this year alone estimate $693 billion in revenue from mobile applications. Since US adults are, on average, spending 2 hours and 55 minutes on their smartphones every day, mobile applications for businesses are an absolute necessity for businesses today.
The convenience and speed that mobile devices offer have made them a daily fixture in most of our lives. Statista reported in 2020 that 90% of internet users used a mobile device to go online. Likewise, over half of the entire internet traffic comes from mobile devices.
Now, if you own a multinational corporation, these numbers might just be numbers to you, but as a small business owner looking to get a strong foothold in your particular industry, you need to fully leverage these statistics - by developing a mobile application for your business.
6 Ways Your Small Business Can Benefit From Having a Mobile Application
Mobile apps for small businesses offer various benefits that can seriously boost sales and bring considerable attention to a brand.
- Increase Customer Engagement
A mobile application offers a plethora of opportunities to engage with your customers and improve brand loyalty. Reports suggest that nearly 46% of customers are less likely to shop from other brands when using a particular brand’s mobile application.
This is because a mobile app acts as the complete online presence of a business. From their product/service catalog to customer support and loyalty programs to push notifications meant for customer retention, customers have many choices to engage with your business. This often leads to increased customer loyalty and the brand becoming memorable for the user.
Besides these, since such an application increases the time that a user spends with a brand, it also increases the chances of them making a purchase.
- Gain Valuable Insights
Mobile apps for small business owners can offer the kind of real-time insights that can transform the way you conduct business; from your marketing strategy to the target audience, everything relies heavily on insights. Since users are usually required to create an account to use a mobile app, there is important information that can help in customer retention and gaining a deeper understanding of how customers are interacting with your business.
Such insights, for instance, can offer information related to user demographics (age, gender, device type, etc.), downloads, and daily, weekly, or monthly users. In fact, by studying such analytics from its mobile application, Starbucks added approximately 17 million active subscribers to its loyalty program!
- Build a Positive Brand Image
Businesses that have mobile applications are seen as credible, competitive, and tech-savvy. And while some might just consider these mere opinions, such factors directly shape the reputation and image of a brand. This is especially important for small businesses because their products or services aren’t as well-known as larger companies; small businesses need to make excellent brand images to attract customers.
- Increase Your Visibility
With the overwhelming amount of information smartphone users process every day, it is a very demanding task for a business to ensure that it remains visible to the user. Sure, you might display some advertisements, but when the global advertising spending is $657 billion, most brands are doing the same. On average, we see between 4,000 to 10,000 ads in a single day! Then how do you make your brand memorable?
A mobile application ensures that your business is highly visible to your customers by staying on their screens and regularly reminding them of your brand. This way, your brand will be at the back of their mind, and if they need the kind of products or services you offer, you’ll be among their top choices.
- Provide Value to Customers
Some important features cannot be efficiently provided through web-based platforms. However, when using mobile apps for small business owners, you can offer features such as:
- Tracking orders
- Complaint portal
- Personalized settings
- Support assistance on holidays
- Exclusive app-only discounts and rewards
All of these provide more value to the customers by improving their shopping experience.
- Maintain a Competitive Advantage
McDonald’s, Nike, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Ikea - all these successful companies have mobile applications. But how many small businesses are you aware of that have a mobile presence? While a survey conducted in 2018 revealed that only 42% of small businesses have a mobile application, this growth has remained stagnant over the years. Thus, having a mobile application gives you a competitive edge over your rivals because oftentimes, small businesses do not invest in a mobile app.
Myths About Mobile Applications for Businesses
Many business owners, despite having the resources and vision to develop a mobile application, are hesitant to invest in small business mobile apps because of certain myths floating around.
Myth 1: Expensive to Develop and Support
This is particularly true for small businesses because they do not have the kind of capital where investments can be made without being certain of their potential success. While it is not practical to quote an average amount since too many variables have to be factored into the cost of building a mobile application, you can even get one for as low as $3,000. Sure, some apps can cost over $100,000, but that does not mean that you should start off with that complex and high-end of an application.
Additionally, technical assistance and development can be outsourced to keep your costs to a minimum.
Myth 2: Nobody Will Be Interested
As per reports, 88% of mobile time is spent on applications. This already provides a very favorable sphere for small business mobile apps to exist. If someone is interested in your business, your mobile application will arguably be their most trusted contact point.
Moreover, as more and more businesses are launching their mobile apps, users now expect brands - no matter their size - to have their own applications. Therefore, if you want your business to be taken seriously and establish credibility, this is a necessary step to take.
Myth 3: Not a Very Effective Marketing Channel
Internet users are regularly bombarded with every kind of advertisement: display ads, social media ads, search engines, email marketing, etc. As such, advertisements of a similar nature will likely be lost in the sea of ads users see every day.
A mobile application, on the other hand, is highly personalized and does not frustrate the user with its appearance. In addition to this, nothing will tell a user more about your business and what it has to offer than a mobile application.
How to Develop a High-Quality Mobile Application for Your Business
Given below is a general blueprint most businesses follow in order to create mobile applications for businesses.
- Begin by developing a strong, well-thought-out strategy to evolve your idea into a successful mobile application.
- The next part is the analysis and planning phase. This includes defining use cases, making product maps, creating the list of functional requirements, and defining a minimum viable product (MVP).
- Afterward, focus on the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of your application. This can be done by creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.
- Next, decide the technical architecture and the technology stack (frontend, backend, APIs) of your application.
- Now you are ready to start the development phase. Make sure that the team uses agile methodologies to ensure maximum transparency.
- Lastly, perform rigorous quality assurance testing before deploying your application.
Although this process in itself is daunting, you should be cognizant of the fact that just having mobile apps for small business is not nearly enough. There are over 8.93 million mobile applications, after all. You need to offer a mobile application that stands out and has most, if not all, of the following characteristics:
- Optimal battery usage
- Adaptable for various screen sizes and devices
- Minimum number of clicks to reach the end-goal
- Easy ways to submit feedback and contact you
- Secure data handling
- Regular updates and introduction of new features
With the kind of cutthroat competition the world is witnessing today, a mobile app that fails to deliver the above is likely to fall behind and not aid your business in any of the aforementioned ways. This is why many businesses turn to custom mobile app development services to ensure they are offering a reliable, unique, and robust application to their users.
In 2021, mobile apps for small business can enhance brand recognition and loyalty, offer valuable insights, give a business a competitive advantage, and increase customer engagement. If you are skeptical of the efficacy of a mobile application (it might be too costly, ineffective, or face low usage), research the issue thoroughly because it might be a myth. There is no time better than now to develop a high-quality and easy-to-use mobile application for your business.