Why Small Businesses Are Creating Apps
The majority of Millennial-owned businesses either have a mobile app or are working on one. If you want to keep up with your competitors, developing an app for your customers or clients is one of the best steps you can take.
On the fence about creating an app for your business? This guide might change your mind.
Outlined below are the top 10 reasons why small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, ought to invest in mobile app development. You’ll also find tips on how to create your own mobile app and see the best results from it.
1. Faster Performance
Did you know that mobile apps are, in general, a lot faster than a mobile website?
Mobile apps load quickly and store their data locally, which allows for faster retrieval. A mobile website, on the other hand, requires data to be retrieved from a web server. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, which sounds pretty frustrating for your customers, doesn’t it?
2. Personalized Content
Speaking of your customers, mobile apps allow you to create and share personalized content with them. Consumers love content that is highly tailored to them and their preferences, and mobile app development makes it easier for your business to cater to them and create more personalized experiences.
For example, you can create a mobile app that lets users set their preferences as soon as they start using it. Then, they can receive customized content based on those preferences. The app can also offer customized recommendations and updates after observing users’ engagement and behaviors.
3. Online and Offline Access
When your business only has a website, your customers are somewhat limited when it comes to accessing your products or services on the go.
For example, if someone wants to check out your online store and place an order, they need to be in a place that has a strong internet connection. Otherwise, they might have to wait several minutes for the website to load on their smartphone browser.
With a mobile app, on the other hand, your customers have instant online and offline access. Most apps, including banking, retail, news, and gaming apps, function online and offline, so your customers can connect with your brand anywhere, anytime.
4. Provide Instant Updates
With a mobile app, you can provide your customers with instant updates and reminders via push notifications. This is a great way to keep your business at the forefront of their minds and encourage them to take advantage of sales and promotions.
When you only have a website, you can still send email updates about sales and promotions, but that’s not the same as getting a push notification right on the home screen of your smartphone.
5. Better Customer Engagement
Mobile apps make it easier for customers to engage with your brand and provide information, share feedback, ask questions, and more.
With a functional, well-designed mobile app, you provide customers with another direct line of communication and easier access to your brand. This, in turn, can lead to higher customer satisfaction ratings, more customer loyalty, and an increased likelihood that they will recommend your business (and your business’s mobile app) to friends and family.
6. More Branding Opportunities
A mobile app is a powerful marketing tool, especially if it is customized according to your business’s current branding.
For example, if an app features the business’s logo and uses the same colors and fonts, it’s easier for people to recognize it as an extension of your business. This can increase the likelihood that they will want to check it out since they’re already familiar with your brand.
Mobile apps can also make it easier for you to reach a larger audience. When you expand the number of platforms on which your products or services are available, you’re able to get in front of people you never would have been introduced to otherwise.
7. Increased E-Commerce Options
A mobile website is a great option for businesses that want to expand their sales options and dive into the e-commerce world. However, a mobile app can be even more beneficial.
Think about how frustrating shopping from a mobile website can be. Unless it’s highly optimized for mobile devices, you’re likely going to have to do a lot of pinching and stretching of the screen to try and see different items and prices, let alone the checkout button and the places to put your credit card details.
With a mobile app, on the other hand, it’s much easier for your customers to check out your products, narrow their search based on various categories, and checkout from their phone in just a couple of minutes.
Remember, the easier it is for people to buy what you’re selling, the more likely you are to increase your online sales.
8. Improved Customer Service
What happens when it’s easier for customers to search for products, communicate with your brand, and access personalized content? Your customers get better service and are more likely to come back for more in the future.
When your business is known for providing great services across a variety of platforms, this bolsters your reputation across the board and sets you up for long-term success. You may also save money since you won’t have to worry about using time and resources to settle as many customer service-related disputes.
9. Reduced Marketing Costs
In addition to saving money by minimizing customer service issues, mobile apps can also help you save money by reducing marketing costs.
When you have happy customers, they’re more likely to use word of mouth to promote your app for you. This saves you from having to spread the word about what you have to offer. Users can also use social channels that are integrated with your mobile app to further promote it and get people interested in checking it out.
10. Better Search Engine Ranking
Many business owners and marketers assume that only websites have an impact on the brand’s search engine ranking. In reality, though, mobile apps also have powerful SEO (search engine optimization) benefits.
These days, search engines like Google rank your in-app content as well as the content on your websites. This allows more opportunities for you to show up on people’s search engine results pages.
You can also optimize your mobile app on the app store by including certain keywords in the description, giving it a clear title, and including backlinks to your website. This allows to rank higher and be easier to find when people are searching the store for apps like yours.
How to Build an App
Perhaps you want to build a mobile app for your business, but you’re also worried about all the work that goes into the app development process. It’s true that creating an app isn’t exactly easy. However, you can simplify the process and get a high-quality product if you follow these steps:
Set Clear Goals
The first step to creating a great mobile app is knowing what you want to accomplish with that app.
What do you want it to do for your business? Will it serve as a marketing tool? Will it be a resource that provides customers with helpful guides or articles? Will it enhance the e-commerce shopping experience?
If you start the app development process with clear goals, it’ll be easier to make design and development decisions that are right for you and your customers.
Do Competitor Research
It’s a good idea to do some competitor research early on in the app development process, too.
If you know that your competitors have mobile apps download them and check them out. Take note of the types of features they offer, how well they’re designed, which devices they can be downloaded on, etc.
Noticing what your competitors are doing makes it easier for you to identify gaps that you can fill in when you create your own app. It also helps you to see what your target audience responds to.
Make a List of Desired Features
Next, make a list of the features you want your mobile app to have.
Remember, this list likely will change throughout the app development process, especially in the later stages when you start receiving user feedback. However, taking the time to list the features you definitely want to include will make it easier for you to know what to prioritize throughout the development process.
This will also help your developers to give you a more accurate quote and estimated completion timeline.
Make Design Mockups
Your next job is to start thinking about the design of your app. What will it look like when people open the app? What kind of layout will it have? How many different screens or pages will there be?
When designing your app, be sure to think about your business’s branding. Use the same colors and fonts that you would use for your other marketing materials. Consistency is key and is very powerful when it comes to boosting your brand recognition.
Create a Marketing Plan
Think about how you’re going to promote and monetize your app, too.
Which channels will you use to let people know your app exists? What kinds of campaigns will you run to get people excited about downloading it?
As for monetization, consider what you can do to increase profits from the app. Will you run ads, for example, or charge a monthly membership fee? Will there be in-app purchases?
There’s no right answer when it comes to how you’ll market and monetize your app. However, you should pause to think about your audience and what they will likely respond best to.
For example, some audiences may be put off by the idea of being charged a monthly fee to use the app, but they will have no problem making in-app purchases or seeing ads.
Partner with an App Developer
Very few businesses that have mobile apps handle the development process in-house. In general, a lot of these companies partner with an app developer or app development agency to do the heavy lifting and outsource the app creation process.
Look for a developer who has experience working with clients like you and apps like yours. This will increase your chances of seeing your desired outcomes, and it will help you to feel more confident in your decision to step into the digital age.
Launch Your App
Once your developer has finished creating your app, you’ll be ready to launch it on the app store.
You can work with your developer to choose the best date to launch the app, but be sure to promote it to your audience ahead of time. This will increase the number of downloads you get and will help you achieve the specific goals you set when you first started working on your app design.
Gather Feedback for Future Improvements
It’s easy to assume that you’re done with the development process once your app is launched. That’s not the case, though.
After launching, you’ll need to gather feedback from users to see what they like and don’t like about the app. You can then use this information as a guide when making updates and looking for ways to fine-tune later versions of the app.
How to Choose a Development Team to Build an App
Partnering with an app development agency is one of the best ways to get your app developed and launched on the app store as quickly as possible. Here are some steps you can take to find the best app development team for the job:
Review Service Lists
When you begin searching for app development agencies, a good starting point is checking out each agency’s website and reviewing their service list. This helps you get a better idea of what each agency can do for you and whether or not their app development services align with your needs.
For example, let’s say you want an app that can be downloaded on both iOS and Android devices. If you’re looking at a developer that only designs apps for Androids, that’s not going to be a good match.
Check Out Portfolios
Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on the app development services they offer, your next step should be to check out each agency’s portfolio.
Most agencies will feature some of their best work directly on their websites, so it’s easy for you to see what kind of work they do and whether their development style matches up with what you want for your business’s mobile app.
If you don’t see a portfolio tab on an agency’s website, reach out and ask for samples of their work. If the company is hesitant to send you samples or doesn’t respond, that’s a sign that they’re probably not the right fit for you.
Next, read reviews for the agency. You can check out the review or testimonial tab on the company’s website, but it’s also a good idea to read reviews from third-party sites.
Checking out these reviews will help you to get a more well-rounded view of the agency’s work, what they do well, what they could improve on, and whether or not their past customers are interested in working with them again. You can then use this information to help you make your own more informed decision.
Ask for References
If you want more personal and specific feedback on the app development agency you’re considering hiring, consider asking for references, too. This allows you to make direct contact with past clients and learn everything you can about their process, their turnaround time, and the overall customer experience.
Similar to the point made above about portfolios, be wary of agencies that don’t want to share references or put you in contact with past customers. That could be a sign that they have something to hide.
Get a Quote
Finally, reach out to the agencies that you’re most interested in and ask for a quote. Most agencies will be happy to sit down or hop on a call with you and talk about your plans for your business’s mobile app. Then, they’ll provide you with a free, detailed quote so you have a clear idea of how much the app will cost you.
At the same time that you get your quote, be sure to ask about financing, too. What kind of deposit does the agency charge? How long do you have to pay off the remaining app development costs?
Start Working on Your Mobile App Today
Are you convinced that it’s a good idea to create a mobile app?
If you want to experience any (or all) of the benefits listed in this guide, follow the steps outlined in the two previous sections. They’ll help you to streamline the app development process and create an app that yields great results for you and your business.
If you’re looking for an app development agency to help you get the ball rolling, we can help at Digital Engage. Contact us today for a free quote or more information on our services.