When Will Your Company Go Mobile?

If you are a business owner today — no matter what size your business is — you need to start thinking about a mobile-first strategy if you have not already done so. In today’s world, businesses everywhere are looking for an edge, especially small businesses. Mobile can be that edge. It is no longer a question of if your business should adopt a mobile strategy, the question is when.

AT FIRST GLANCE – COST PROHIBITIVE

When small business owners start their research into app development, they might be discouraged when they find out what it is going to cost. The average mobile app can cost $270,000 to develop, according to a survey from Kinvey.

Those figures are sure to scare away most small business owners, and even some of the bigger ones. I have some unique insights into this process, having seen it from both sides.

SHARING MY SOLUTION

I have a retail background and in 2014, I was looking for a way to better connect with my customers. I tried many of the marketing tools available to me, including radio, magazines, flyers, email, social media and paid web. Some avenues had results and others did not, but with all the competition for the attention of my customers, it became increasingly difficult to stand out.

The goal of my marketing efforts was to get my message in front of my customers in the most effective way possible and to increase sales as a direct result of those efforts. A Google search for how to increase sales resulted in my “aha moment.”

BUILD LOYALTY TO INCREASE SALES

Businesses with loyalty programs generally have profits that are higher than businesses without one, and companies like Starbucks saw a 26% increase in profits after introducing a loyalty program. I began looking for ways to implement a loyalty program for my business and after a few days of research settled on a mobile loyalty app. In 2014, the mobile app landscape was not where it is today and what I was looking for did not exist, so I went out and built it.

ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE

As a retail owner who also founded an app development company, I know that a business owner today can design, build and publish their own custom mobile app for less than it would cost them to publish 10,000 flyers just once. The mobile app today is as essential to businesses as a website has been in the past. Over time, I believe it will become the most effective way to connect with and engage your customers.

So, I ask you….if not now, when?

Here is one business we’ve worked with to go mobile. Watch this video about Denim Industries:

This article was originally posted on Forbes.com. Ali Ispahany is a regular contributor for Forbes.

How Can a Mobile App Help My Business?

In my opinion, the top three things on every business owner’s mind are;

  1. how to increase sales
  2. how to improve efficiency, and
  3. how to build a loyal customer base

Entrepreneurs are a special breed. They work hours that others baulk at, invest all of their resources into their vision, their dream, and are always looking for ways to improve.

I Did A Little Digging

Over the last two decades, I’ve owned several small clothing boutiques and had been looking to do all of the above. I did a lot of research into how I could increase sales and build a loyal client base. What I discovered was that businesses with a loyalty program generally outperformed businesses without one by 20%.  That was the nugget I’d been digging for – Loyalty!

I knew I wanted to implement a loyalty program, but couldn’t find the right fit, and if I couldn’t find the right fit, I probably wasn’t alone. Fast forward 2 years and today, our company, Mass Mobile Apps, produces custom mobile apps to help business owners address the three issues mentioned at the beginning of this article.

How can a Mobile App help your business?

Let’s break it down…

1.Increase Sales

A Mobile App can include a variety of different types of loyalty programs. For example, all apps created in the Mass Mobile Apps platform can include 8 different types of rewards programs.  Of the 8, the 3 most popular are:

  • the Transactional: the more you spend, the more you earn,
  • the Scratch and Win:  which adds gamification to the app. Users love interacting with the apps this way, and
  • the Referral Rewards: which enables customers to earn rewards for referring new customers to your business.

Each one of these programs brings value to the business owner and incentivizes users to come back more often and spend more when they do.

2. Improve efficiency  

Features like Integrated Shopping Carts, Integrated Food Ordering and Employee Scheduling give an employer the ability to house these key functions inside the app.  

For example, a restaurant with a food ordering system built into their app will see a dramatic increase in online and in-app purchasing. A retail business with an integrated e-commerce system will increase efficiency and also boost sales.  

All types of businesses will improve employee engagement with built-in scheduling software that allows employees to be notified of their schedules in real time, and to also always have access to it on their smartphones – no longer can they, “I forgot I was scheduled today”, or “no one told me I was working today.”

3. Loyalty

Lastly, building a loyal customer base, is one of the most important things that a business owner must focus on. Customers are the lifeblood of EVERY business. Successful business owners know this and make it a priority to build loyalty and create brand ambassadors.

There is no better way for a business to communicate and engage their customers than with a mobile app. The app gives your customers the ability to interact with your business on their schedule.  

Push notifications have open rates in excess of 90%. Compare that to emails with open rates of 25-30% and you can see how the Mobile App will become the best way for you to connect with your customers and to reward them for referring new business. They may even help take you viral.

A Multi-Purpose Tool That is Both Accessible and Affordable

A Mobile App can be a lot of different things. It can be a way to access information, to play games, to do your banking, to monitor your home, to communicate and now, to interact with your local businesses.  Business owners with the insight to adopt this marketing channel early, will have an easier time understanding where their customers are, and how to effectively engage with them.

The move to mobile is not new, but the ability for small and medium-sized businesses to adopt a marketing channel like this is. DIY Mobile App platforms can now offer an SME all of the features that a fortune 500 company has in their mobile strategy, at a fraction of the price.

Here is how we’ve helped one retailer go mobile. Watch this video about Denim Industries:

The Cost of Mobile Apps for Small Businesses

Small businesses owners looking for a mobile app platform may be scared off implementing one by the perceived large capital costs involved.

I have some valuable insight on the topic from two perspectives, 1) I was a small business owner looking for a mobile app solution for my retail stores a few years ago, 2) Not finding a solution, I created my own platform that caters to small business owners.

My background is retail, I have owned and operated retail boutiques for the better part of 25 years, so I understand clearly the predicament small business owners face when looking to adopt a mobile app solution.

Let me start off by saying that for business owners today no mater how big or how small, it is imperative that they implement a mobile strategy.  Aside from the many intrinsic benefits that mobile apps provide, like push notifications, food ordering systems, integration of all digital assets, and loyalty programs, they also provide ancillary benefits, like helping rank your business higher on google searches.

The goal of every business owners marketing efforts is to get their message, (whether it is a sales promotion, new arrivals, special event, or general updates) seen by their own customers, and to know that their messages are being seen.  Look at the available marketing mediums that are available to businesses today:

  • Radio
  • TV
  • Print
  • Flyers
  • Paid Web
  • Email
  • Organic/Word of Mouth

The mobile app will over time become the best and most effective way to communicate with your customers, boost engagement and drive sales!  Technology today enables a business owner to design build and publish a mobile app, for less then it would cost them to build a website. The Mobile App will be for businesses today and moving forward, what the website was for businesses in the past.

The other unique perspective I have is that of the founder of a tech start up catering to the small business market.  We have built a platform from the perspective of a user and that perspective gives us the ability to understand the needs of our clients and how they will use our platform daily.

With the introduction of the IPhone, and the dominance of smart phones today as the primary method of accessing the internet for a majority of the population – it is imperative for businesses to adopt a mobile first marketing strategy moving forward.  Cost should no longer be an obstacle for small businesses in finding a mobile app platform.