The question then becomes not one of affordability, but rather, necessity: Do you really need a mobile app? Here are five considerations to help you decide if a mobile application is right for your small business:
- Mobile-friendly website first: Mobile marketing expert “As far a mobile websites are concerned, those are prerequisites for every business,” says On April 21, Google launched “Mobilegeddeon,” rewarding mobile-friendly sites with better search rankings. So before creating a mobile app, make sure you have a mobile-friendly website — you need to optimize your website for mobile devices.
- Are your customers engaged? Brett Relander, Mobile marketing expert and founder of TribeMedia and Launch & Hustle says that a mobile app makes the most sense for businesses that have frequent contact with their customers. “For businesses where you’re going to be exposed to your customers—whether online, at your store, or at your restaurant—those make a lot more sense for a mobile app.” Leverage mobile applications to drive high levels of engagement and interactions through mobile push notifications.
- Apps resonate with loyal customers: Peggy Anne Salz, analyst, author and founder of MobileGroove Media, says that customer loyalty to your brand or small business is a chief consideration when determining if an app is right. “If you have a diehard community of coffee lovers, and people are just as loyal to you as they are to Starbuck’s … you have to consider an app.” On average, Salz says, research shows consumers have 24 apps on their phones, “So you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I the brand that has such a loyal following that I can be one of those 24?’” If the answer is yes, a mobile application might be a smart addition to your marketing mix.
- Play to millennial expectations: If your customers are not millennials, chances are they’ve adopted aspects of the millennial mindset—which means your customers are on mobile devices and on the go. They expect convenience and they expect it now. Take Uber, for instance: With just a few taps of the app, you can have a driver headed your way in minutes. So if you’re competing within that vertical, chances are your customers expect the same service from your business.
- Apps require upkeep—a lot of it: Even though apps have become more accessible for small business owners, they remain high-maintenance. There are versions for operating systems to consider—think iOS versus Android—not to mention device types and screen sizes. Salz encourages small business owners to consider the commitment needed to upgrade and support an app before making the leap.