The Advantages & Disadvantages of Building Mobile Apps for Small Businesses
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Are you weighing out the pros and cons of building a mobile app for your business? As a small business owner, it is natural to wonder whether it is worth taking this proverbial leap. There are loads of points to consider including the expenses, time to market, and of course the choice between making an android app or creating an iOS app.
In the post ahead, we will weigh out all the advantages and the disadvantages of building mobile apps for small businesses and then help you decide whether you should build a business app or not!
Did you know that there are more mobile devices in the world today than the total number of computers and televisions put together?
This fact clearly indicates that to reach out to the maximum number of customers and in many other ways it is absolutely essential for you to build a mobile app for your business. If you are under the misconception that your business doesn’t really need an app, you probably have been still living in the past when it was true. Things have changed drastically today, whether it is technology, social scenario, buying habits, browsing habits, every aspect of business and customers has undergone major transformation. Today as a business owner, if you want to prepare yourself and the business for the future and begin your journey to reaping in big profits, a mobile app is imperative for you.
Like most other things, building mobile apps for business has its own share of advantages and disadvantages as well. Appy Pie puts forth an honest comparison of advantages and disadvantages of building a mobile app for business and once you have gone through them in details, you would be better equipped to finally make the decision.
Advantages of Building A Mobile App for Business
Having a mobile app for your business brings about a huge number of benefits for you and your business. Let’s take a look at the different ways in which you can benefit from a mobile app.
1. Little to No Waiting Time for The Customers
Using a mobile app is a lot faster than having to use a mobile website and browsing on it. Web browsing whether on the mobile or on the computer entails you opening the web browser, then remembering and entering the URL, and then wait for the site to load before you finally have the content displayed in front of you. The speed of the entire process depends on the kind of network available in the area. However, when the customer launches the app, it merely takes a second as most of the content is stored within the app itself, which is why it is possible to make use of the app even when you are offline.
2. Apps Consistently Remind the Customers of Your Business
‘What you see is what you covet?’ this phrase might have been coined for an entirely different subject, but a truer sentence has never been uttered. It is only natural to be reminded only of things that are in front of you and hence the inclination of using, buying, interacting with these things is higher. An app on a smartphone definitely has more visibility or value for the customer as it is right there, in comparison to a web bookmark that can only be explored after opening the browser, hence has lower visibility and value. A mobile app is in front of the customer’s eyes all the time on their phones.
3. Apps Keep the Customers or The Users Hooked
It would only be apt to say that today the smartphones have the users hooked to them. Customers too are asking for more apps that would connect them to the businesses that they want to reach out to with ease and promptness. Apps have a better record and opportunity of engaging the customers in a stronger way. Whether they are on the move, at home, their workplace, in the gym, or out shopping, a mobile app for your business would always be in their pockets and they can engage with it at will, which makes them stay on your app for longer.
4. Apps Tend to Bring Down the Cost of Marketing
Consider the scenario when you do not have an app, you would probably send out marketing information through SMSs or other traditional media, which are a lot more expensive than reaching out to your customers through inobtrusive yet effective push notifications. Mobile apps simplify your communications while making it possible for you to reach and message your customers in a safe, instant, and cost-effective manner. Also, apps have been known to reduce the workload of information requests and phone calls by supplying all relevant information from within the app.
5. Apps Offer More Value to The Customers
The premise of your business is barter, right? This is where you offer a product and the customers dig in to their pockets to compensate you for it. As a business owner there would have been plenty of situations where you might have reached sat down with the rest of your team and tried to figure out ways to make these customers dig deeper and more often into their pockets. One thing that you may or may not have come up with is to provide value for your customers that they wouldn’t find anywhere else. This value can come from offering the customers a special loyalty bonus or points, a subscribers-only deal, and some such, which would help you keep bringing the customers back to you for more!
6. Apps Help Strengthen the Brand
This is probably one of the most important things that a mobile app can do for your business. It not only increases brand awareness among consumers but also helps them communicate or interact with your brand. Once you establish a relationship through this regular interaction you are also fostering a trust among them. As the trust they have in you increases, the chances of them listening to you in your future sales pitch are higher and who knows they might even commit to your brand! A mobile app lets you show to your customers the reason why they should trust you, instead of you just telling them they should.
7. Apps Help You Connect Better with The Customers
Customer service or interactions are of great value for any business. In the past, this was best accomplished by face to face communications and resolving the customer’s concerns through a team of professionals who were trained just for that. However, mobile devices which make your app available to the users with just one tap, have turned out to be the biggest game-changer yet, when it comes to customer service. A solid mobile presence for your business means that you are presenting a consistent face to the customers everywhere. The time differences wouldn’t matter with a mobile app. If a customer or a potential customer wants information or any other kind of interaction with your app at 2 in the morning, they can do it without having to wait till business hours. This, in the long run would help you raise customer satisfaction all across the board.
8. Apps Help You Push Your Profits Up
It is no hidden fact that a mobile app can help you raise customer satisfaction. But it has also been proven that when customer satisfaction is raised, it is often followed by an increase in sales too. As more and more customers find the interactions with your app fruitful and pleasant, the demand for your services and products will increase too! You might have an awesome website which has the ability to adapt to the multitude of devices available in the market which might eliminate the need for a secondary mobile website, but nothing beats the experience that an app can provide. It is this experience that brings you the much-needed boost as well in your profits and who doesn’t want that? One of the glowing examples here is that of Domino’s Pizza who witnessed a rise of 28% in half pre-tax profits in UK alone. It is humbling and encouraging to know that 52% of their online orders are completed through a mobile app.
9. Apps Help You Set Yourself Apart from The Crowd
With thousands of businesses vying for attention what are you doing that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd? Mobile app for your business can accomplish this with ease. It is still rare to use a mobile app for communication and marketing, and the sooner you get into it, the more you stand to gain from it.
10. Apps Increase Customer Loyalty
How many times do your customers come back to you after they have made their first purchase? This is an important aspect for the growth of your business and you must pay it due attention. It is easier to cultivate customer loyalty when you constantly remind your customers of your existence and your offerings. Advertising is a crowded space which is constantly bombarding the users with visual imagery consisting of hundreds of thousands of brands and products. A mobile app forges a truthful and honest relationship between your business and your customers. The mere fact that your app is at their fingertips makes the customers feel more connected and loyal to you.
11. Your App Can Be Turned into A Social Platform
Integrating as many social channels as you can, into your app can bring you an unexpected popularity. It has been established through studies that most of the people log on to the social media to see what their friends are saying. If people are talking about you or your products and sharing it on the social media, then their friends would know about you, be reminded of you, and interact with you. Additionally, incorporating features like in-app messaging, comments, likes, sharing, and logins through popular social media channels like Facebook or Instagram can effectively increase customer engagement and retention while ensuring repeat sales from your app.
12. Apps Add Value to The Websites
You might be questioning yourself at this time “With the shoestring budget that I have, should I build an app when I already have a functioning website?” Well, yes you do! The fact is that a mobile app would add further value to your website, by creating loyalty among the customers who were probably attracted to your brand by the website. Websites are, in general great for providing information, an app however, is extremely effective in offering two-way communication.
13. An Easy Way to Promote your Offerings
When you have a mobile app to strengthen your digital identity, the overall impression exerted by you and the brand is enhanced. Not only does it help you stand out and give you a reserved space on the mobile device carried at all times by your customer, but also makes it a lot easier to reach out to them in a strategic, timely fashion and place your products and services right in front of them, probably with attractive offers to entice the audience into making a purchase. Not only does it bring you better returns than the more traditional modes of advertising like billboards, TV, print media and more, but it also helps you save a lot of money in reaching just the right kind of audience.
14. Gets Genuine Feedback from the Customers
Your customers who are using your products and the app are a rich source of feedback when it comes to improving your product and the experience you are offering them. The feedback may be in the form of a review, a suggestion, may even be a grievance, or a compliment. Any business that hopes to achieve any measure of success would not simply put the customer relationship to end as soon as the purchase is made, or the targeted conversion is complete. It is important that you lend them an ear, listen to what they have to say about your business, your product or services, and the overall experience you are extending. Through a mobile app of your own, you are opening up a dialogue and an avenue for the customers to speak with you and help you understand where you have scope for improvement.
15. Improvisation is Easier with an App
Since the feedback you receive is in real time and genuine, there is a lot more value to it. The timelines are beautifully aligned with the actionable steps and you have the freedom and the opportunity to make changes as you receive these insights. With the feedback pouring in from genuine customers you would be able to tell what’s working for your business and what’s not. This way, you can make improvements to the experience immediately (where possible) and leverage the features or things that people are enjoying about your business, brand, or other offerings. This is also a great way to do some market research and understand what is it that your customers want, particularly when you are planning to launch a new product line or area of service.
16. You get to Sell Faster
In the world of small businesses, timing is of great essence. It is only natural that you would have some products that absolutely must be sold off before a particular time period is over. Using the push notification or in-app notification feature, you can prompt your app users and customers to buy these products as you declare a “limited period only” sale or discount coupon that can be redeemed on the app! These promotions invoke a sense of urgency and excitement among customers, encouraging them to make a purchase, helping you sell out the items you do not want to be stuck with. An additional advantage here is the ensuing publicity that comes your way putting your brand and business on the map and in your customers’ minds.
17. Easy Access to Business Analytics
As we are getting more comfortable with technology, the aspect of record keeping has become a breeze and even though the setup may take a little while, after that all your record keeping and collecting woes are smoothened out. The mobile app will come with a set of analytics and you can customize it to get more. You can track downloads, keep an eye on user engagement levels and the kind of products that the users show interest in. Having access to analytics and metrics can give you great insight in helping you determine how to make your products more suited to the customers.
18. A positive Image for your Business
In the business world, your stocks and their value depend to a great extent on the kind of image you have managed to create for yourself. When you have a mobile app to add to the whole digital presence, you are essentially contributing to a positive image for your business telling the world that you are abreast of the latest technology. Having a mobile app of your own today is not a fancy ad on, it has, in fact, turned into a necessity that the modern-day user has come to expect from a good brand irrespective of their scale, scope, and size.
Though in the past, mobile apps were viewed as fancy tools meant only for the large corporations or businesses of a certain scale, but today even the small businesses are building apps for their businesses and improving their customer service while bringing home considerably larger returns on their investment.
For the small business owners, the cost of building an app had been marked by the fear of the high costs involved in building an app, but DIY app builder like Appy Pie’s App Builder have managed to allay these fears entirely.
Planning for a Mobile App for your Small Business
After going through all these benefits and challenges in building a mobile app, if you have taken the decision of creating a mobile app for your business, then you must get into the details of creating a mobile app now. The first step is to create an app team, the size of which depends on the size of the organization. In general, the team consists of a group of stakeholders from each of the major business function in the organization. Typically this includes a representative from the C-suite, the marketing head, and the tech guy from IT who has an understanding of the development and support process.
The next step is to make a list of your app goals or the things you want your app to accomplish. The app goals usually can be categorized into one of these three – acquisition, engagement, and conversion. After you have a clarity regarding the app goals, it is time you pay attention to the app features you must include to make sure that your app accomplishes these goals.
Some of the app features that are most popular among app owners include the following:
- Push Notifications
- Geolocation and Map Integration
- Mobile Shopping/Mobile Payments
- Integrated Loyalty Program
- Social Integration
- One-Touch Contact
- Virtual Reality
- Smart Sync and Smart Updates
This is one of the most effective ways of communicating with the customers and delivering timely, relevant, on-demand communication without getting caught in a spam filter. The power of push notifications is multiplied when combined with location-based messaging to offer an experience that is highly personalized.
Catching your customers at the right time is particularly important if you plan to get great conversions. With the combination of these features you may not only find out where your customers are, but also give them precise directions to your place of business. You can also use the location-based coupons or incentives to let the staff know whenever a VIP customer walks into your store.
This is a feature that you must in your business app, no matter which niche your business belongs to. With this feature, your app users and customers can make a purchase from within your app, without having to navigate out of it, or making a call, or traveling to your physical store.
It is a point we have discussed at length earlier in the post where we have talked about the loyalty induced by mobile apps among your customers. However, this can only work when you have a loyalty feature in place on your mobile app which enables your customers to acquire, track and redeem points using the app.
Social media is the life and blood of modern-day communication. People are using social media for all sorts of things, even when it comes to seeking recommendations. It is a good idea, therefore to integrate all your social media platforms within the app so that your customers can engage with your app using their favorite social media channel whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or any other.
What is the point of getting the prime spot on your customers’ phones if they cannot connect with you easily? It is for this reason that you must add One-Touch Contact to your mobile app. With this feature, your customers can connect over phone, email or social media with just one touch! You can also think about adding step-by-step direction guide with the one-touch feature.
Virtual Reality is not just fun and games anymore. It has some serious applications in business and client servicing as well. This means if you want your customers to see how a pair of sunglasses would look on them, or how the eclectic floor lamp would look in their living room, you can make good use of this feature and help them make an informed decision. While some businesses would benefit from this feature as a marketing tool, still others can use it to engage their customers deeper before they convert.
The modern customer uses multiple devices and works with multiple channels and wants to be on the same page everywhere. The auto sync and auto update features make the content available homogeneously on all devices across all channels.
Marketing Your Mobile App on a Small Business Budget
Everyone today understands the importance of reaching out to the customers where they already are, in place of trying to bring in the customers to where you have your business. It is with this underlying principle that the mobile app revolution gained wind and even though it has been around for a few years, it does not seem to show any signs of slowing down any time soon.
I have often talked about the importance of marketing your app or promoting it to the right audience. You mustn’t assume that just because you have created a great app people will come rushing. If you want the people to come running to you and start using your app, then you need to make sure that the people known about it at least!
It is a popular misconception that your app marketing efforts with burn through your pockets. However, there are many unique marketing strategies that can help you put your app on the map and expose it to the targeted user groups.
We also have a pretty detailed blog post that tells you all about promoting your app without breaking your bank and you should check it out.
Small Businesses that can Benefit from Mobile Apps
Developing an app tailored to your business is easier than you think and cost effective. Whether you gain new clients, increase customer loyalty or step ahead of your competition, the return on investment (ROI) is significant.
Small businesses in nearly every industry can benefit from a company-specific app, and here are six to consider.
- Traditional and Non-Traditional Healthcare Providers
Doctors, dentists, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists and more share a specific challenge: getting their patients or clients to come for their scheduled appointments. For small practices, each no-show has a significant impact on their bottom line and financial stability. With a personalized healthcare app, you can schedule appointments and send reminders with an option to reschedule if needed. With this app there are fewer missed appointments, which results in improved cash flow.
With an app you can also request post-visit feedback, which can be posted as a review. This option allows you to promote your business to potential patients and clients. In today’s digital age, 84% of people trust online reviews as much they do personal recommendations and the app lets you take advantage of this fact to grow your practice. You can also include a map, contact information, hours of operation and other details to give potential information to your target audience.
- Child Daycare Centers
Flyers get lost in a child’s backpack and emails go unread. As a result, little Suzie and Jimmy are crying because they can’t go on the fieldtrip since they don’t have a signed permission slip. For child daycare programs, an app is the best way to keep parents informed about what’s happening at the school and remind them of tasks they need to complete. This can include:
- Initial and follow-up reminders of parent and/or child task deadlines;
- Announcements of special events, plays, award ceremonies, etc.;
- Reminders of scheduled school breaks; and
- Requests for donations, such as food, plates, etc. for a party.
An app allows you to create and disseminate the personalized information that parents need in a format that is most likely to grab their attention.
- Doggy Daycare Centers
Today’s pampered pooches often spend the day with their friends at daycare rather than staying home alone and destroying the couch cushions out of boredom. Apps are an effective tool to keep pet owners in the know about limited holiday hours of operations, behavioral issues their pet is displaying, and the availability of new activities, such as a wading pool in the summer.
For providers that provide additional services, the app can be used to schedule grooming sessions or boarding stays. For doggy daycare programs that offer packages, such as buy 10 days of care and get one free, owners can use the app to track how many days they have left in their package.
Similar to human healthcare providers, veterinarians need to manage appointments, including sending reminders to the pet owners of upcoming scheduled visits. Reminder can also be sent for:
- Upcoming care needs, such as vaccinations;
- Follow-up homecare plan after a procedure;
- General seasonal needs, including tick and flee treatments;
- Pet license deadlines; and
- Scheduling next physical
Through the app you can request feedback on their experience that you can use to promote your business. You can also create a loyalty program that offer discounted services for long-term customers or other special perks. In addition, the app is a great way for pet owners to contact you in case of an emergency.
- Salons and Spas
Salons and spas are places that make a woman feel pampered and special. Enhance this personalized experience with an app that places them at the center of the process. Depending on the app design, guests can use it to schedule services and manage their appointments. With this app you can also send reminders about whatever services you offer, from cut and color to hot stone massage and salt cave sessions, to assure that they arrive on time.
You can also use the app to:
- Promote products and services;
- Promote upcoming events, i.e. mother/daughter spa day for Mother’s Day, etc.;
- Share information on time-specific sales or discounts;
- Create and manage a loyalty program; and
- Offer referral discounts.
The salon and spa industry is extremely competitive and an app can differentiate your business from the competition. It also makes it easy for people to access your services and keep them coming back for more.
- Auto Repair and Body Shops
Similar to the other industries, great auto repair and body shop service delivery begins with scheduling an appointment. Whether the car is coming in for routine maintenance or dent removal, the owner needs to drop the vehicle off to get things started. With an app, you can:
- Schedule the drop off;
- Send an estimate;
- Record the receipt and acceptance of the estimate;
- Keep the owner updated on the status of the work; and
- Inform them when the car is ready to be picked up.
This ability to quickly provide necessary information increases customer satisfaction and helps you stand out from the crowd of competition. Using the app also allows you to focus on providing the service rather than spending time on the phone with the owner.
Disadvantages of Building A Mobile App for Business
Every coin has a flip side, and this stands true even in this regard. There might be certain situations which can pose a problem for you if you are planning to build a mobile app for your business. Let’s get to them and discuss how these disadvantages or challenges can be overcome.
1. Building A Mobile App Has A Hefty Price Tag Attached to It.
Building a mobile app takes more time and money that developing a website. You might have to go with developing different versions of your app for different app stores, iOS & Android being the absolutely necessary ones.
However, this challenge can be overcome by opting to build your app with a quality app builder platform like Appy Pie which does the job you want your app to do at a fraction of the cost.
2. The Process of Developing A Mobile App Can Be Quite Complicated.
The process of building your own mobile app can be quite a complex one with quite a few crucial decisions that you would have to take. There is a chance you do not have the technical expertise and hiring one can be tough. There are operating systems like iOS & Android to consider and then the hundreds of different kinds of devices available in the market, which make the entire process quite complex.
This too can be avoided when you opt for a DIY or template app from Appy Pie who would take care of all the technicalities and release you from the complexities of the entire process.
It’s true that there are always pros and cons to anything, but as we see here, the pros out-weight the cons by a huge margin. It is a fact that you need to move ahead with the changing times if you are looking to survive in the competition that lies ahead of you. If you fail to move ahead with the times you are going to get obsolete and be wiped out sooner than you think. Go ahead build yourself an app and see your business grow!
Do you think I missed out on something here? I would love to know if you have something to add here. Let me know in the comments section, I’m all ears!