Canadian Small business, improve customer relationships by developing smartphone applications

Great Article in the Toronto Star as to how important Mobile Apps are for Business Owners.

Apps – those things you install on your smartphone or tablet to perform specific tasks – have traditionally been seen as a luxury offering available only to large or tech-savvy organizations.

Apps – those things you install on your smartphone or tablet to perform specific tasks – have traditionally been seen as a luxury offering available only to large or tech-savvy organizations.

A small business can’t easily afford to invest $10K – $40K to develop a customer-friendly app. But new products available now let small businesses purchase their app services on a monthly basis, just like internet and phone. These cover areas such as payments, scheduling, and appointments, messaging and marketing with coupons, deals and social sharing.  This means that, for the first time, apps are now affordable for small businesses — and they may be one of your best secret weapons to staying competitive.  With more than one million applications available across the Google Play and the Apple App store, and users spending nearly half a day each month using the programs, the message is clear: users like apps.  With this in mind, here are five reasons why a small business should consider investing in its own mobile application:

Customer service – providing information at the fingertips of your customers is a significant value add. From the convenience of wherever/whenever they are, they can find information that is essential to their purchasing decision.
Retention through brand recognition – Staying top of mind is easy when an app puts your company’s logo in front of your customers.
News and information updates – Whatever you need to share, an app gives you the ability to ensure a customer’s smartphone has up-to-date information. From holiday closures to extended hours to trending news and reviews or something as simple as construction they might want to avoid while making their way to your business, an app can be a valuable information resource.
Company image – Having your own app projects a professional, tech-savvy image. It shows you’re invested in the latest customer trends and can make your business appear larger or more well established than it may in fact be.
Push out messages for promotions/launches – Apps are a new direct line of communication with customers. You can push out notifications for promotions and new product and service launches, literally putting the news in the palm of your audience’s hands. Plus, these notifications tend to stand out from the stream of emails most people receive about the other guy’s promos.

What our Customers Have to Say!

We have recently received a great testimonial video from one of our customers.  Danny, the owner of Denim Industries has been with us for approximately 1 year, and has received a great response to his “Denim” app from his customers.  According to Danny ” it took a while to grow my user base, but now we have customers coming in for our ‘App Only’ promotions, and all of our regulars have really enjoyed the fact that they now earn rewards.  I even had one customer bring her friends from out of town to the store, and encouraged her to purchase a thousand dollar jacket and she took the points.”

Danny From Denim Industries

Sunshine Greer from Cuppa Sunshine Coffee & Tea had this to say: 

“OMG!!! Love the new feature that asks # of punches so we don’t have to punch it in so many times for multiple drinks!! awesome!! If you want to market this to coffee houses on the west coast (Seattle area), I can write you a coffee house specific review. You guys (maybe you are just a one man team?) are the best!!  Thanks,

Sunshine=) ”

Ahmad from Organico Vitamins :

“That is even more AWESOME. I am running out of adjectives.  Now I have to start thinking about putting together rewards format.  What great news to start our day. Everyone is excited and cannot wait.  Actually you may get some referrals from other merchants also. They had asked me who did my APP.  This is my top priority so everything is secondary. We need to have this off the launching pad as quickly as possible!”

Sam from Back to Cali:

“Having  our very own app on the app stores gives us that extra credibility, that has not only helped with customers, but with our suppliers. Before this, my emailed newsletters, were getting absolutely NO attention from my customers, any promotion taking place in store would have to be repeated because they weren’t opening my emails. NOW, however, I have customers visiting weekly with phone in hand asking me to point out the newest items (in store) showing on their app!

-Sam

Ben from Audio Basics:

My only regret when purchasing my custom app is NOT DOING IT SOONER! It’s given my business to a whole new level of sophistication. So visually & aesthetically pleasing, has my clients thinking we are an industry giant with multiple locations!!!  -Ben

Oral from Natural Touch Rehab:

At first look, I felt the idea of the app didn’t really fit for our clinic, but it’s actually much more than i envisioned!! The “notification’ feature has really helped us stay connected to our patients. Our patient response times have never been quicker! Every time a new update is available, me and my staff can’t wait to see what feature have been added! Good Job guys!

-Oral

 

Costs of Custom App Development

Figuring the costs of custom mobile business app development

How much are custom mobile business apps going to cost you? Here are some estimates, analyses and offers we’ve found that should help set some reasonable expectations.

General app development costs

This post is primarily about apps for for mobilizing business processes, but if you are interested in the more general topic of app development costs here are some pointers:

Business app development costs

Surveys

Update: A November 2014 Kinvey report based on a survey of CIOs and Mobile Leaders found that mobile application development is “costly, slow and frustrating.” According to this survey:

56 percent of mobile leaders surveyed say it takes from 7 months to more than one year to build one app. 18 percent say they spend from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app, with an average of $270,000 per app.

costspng

Source: Kinvey Survey

survey of IT professionals conducted in 2013 by AnyPresence, a backend-as-a-service company, asked about the initial cost of developing a typical mobile application. Over half reported spending more than three months and over $50,000  developing a typical app. Very nearly a quarter reported spending over $100,000.

Analyses

App development company Propelics specializes in iPad apps and posted a very informative blog post in December 2011 with a breakdown of iPad app development costs. This is recommended reading on the difference between consumer and enterprise apps. In a nutshell, Propelics describes three levels of complexity in enterprise apps corresponding to three price ranges:

  • Simple Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $50,000 (+/- 20%)
  • Medium Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $100,000 (+/- 20%)
  • Complex Enterprise iPad App Development Cost: $150,000 (and up)

Features that bump an app into the $100,000 range include a branded and highly tuned user experience, and integration that leverages your existing enterprise capabilities. For real-time integration, mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) infrastructure, you enter the $150,000+ category.

In a late 2012 webinar Propelics reiterated these figures in the context of mobile budget planning for 2013.

An October 2012 post provided some very detailed estimates by the CTO of 5App and his conclusion:

It’s safe to assume that using traditional development techniques to create a cross-platform enterprise app won’t come in under £100K.

He lays out a grid splitting out costs for design, development and testing on one, two or three platforms for four app categories.  Here are some example estimates (converted from GBP to USD for comparison to other estimates here):

  • An app that extracts data from a database and displays it in a simple list can be expected to take 4-8 weeks to create at a cost of $26,000 on a single platform.
  • An app with more complex server-side integration and offline data caching will probably take 8-12 weeks and cost $71,000 to develop for two platforms.
  • A full-scale enterprise automation app with integration to business processes will take anything from 3-6 months and may cost over $150,000 to develop on three platforms.
  • Assorted Quotes
  • An October 2012 analysis of why enterprise apps fail begins with this rather revealing anecdote:
  • The head of digital for a major UK interactive agency shut the door and slid the iPad across the table with a pained smile. Her team had developed an app for a major financial services firm. $140,000 and six months later they were about to start again. The client was, unsurprisingly, unhappy.
  • Kevin Benedict:
  • Companies are under tremendous pressure to develop and deploy mobile apps for their business systems, yet the traditional approach to mobile app development typically costs $250K+ and takes 6+ months for a single app.
  • StarMobile:
  • Based upon complexity, the initial costs to develop a native enterprise application for one mobile device platform can range from $50,000 to $250,000. Those costs grow exponentially if you need that app to support multiple mobile device platforms.

How to Build a Successful Loyalty Program

Regardless of the size of your business, customer loyalty programs ensure more repeat business than any other form of advertising. However you need to make sure that your customers are  participating, and are able to advantages of your program.JoinNow

The easiest way to promote your loyalty program is to do it at the point of sale, face to face with your customer.  It is imperative that your employees are well trained and enthusiastic when promoting your program.  The customer is already committed to buying something from you, why would they not want to receive some type of a reward for giving you their business?  If your business has the ability at the time a transaction is being made, it would be an easy way to help your customer sign up, or download your program, alternatively if you are a high volume enterprise, then having professionally printed material explaining how the customer would be able to join your program at a later time would be important.  In both scenarios there should be clearly marked signs outlining how to join, and what the benefits of your program are.

Featuring your loyalty app, with the links of the respective app stores, in all your marketing material, is also an excellent way to quickly gain users.  Places that would be helpful are, your website, your company facebook page, your company twitter account, and other company social media accounts…

For any loyalty program to work, it essential that you are able to get your customers to adopt it.  Offering an instant reward upon signing up is a tool that is also very effective;  for example, upon signing up for your program, offer the customer an instant savings or a gift.  This will dramatically increase early adoption, and get your program off to a good start.

At Mass Mobile Apps, we have account experts that can help you structure a program, and ensure your success. Contact us to get started! [contact-form subject=’Contact from Blog’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

 

A Mobile App – A gift that keeps on Giving!

No longer hold the belief that building loyalty is through discounting, but rather by building a strong bond between brand and customer.  The connections that customers attach to a brand must also be considered as being added value.  Businesses that have already made their brand mobile and sociable have risen to the top by prioritizing loyalty and by developing emotional connections with their customer.

The customer is the heart of a business, and a good way to increase customer satisfaction is to keep the customers needs central to all business operations, from the top down.  Furthermore, by incorporating current technology to ensure a business provides the customer service that consumers expect, business owners can expect to turn that loyalty into increased revenue and a healthier bottom line.

The most anticipated holiday season of the year is only 30 days away businesses must be prepared to leverage this technology to increase customer retention which will translate into a successful Christmas season!

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your Holiday Season is the best one yet!

1.  Content Marketing – Keep it fun and reflective of the season, special promos and themes

2.  Discounted Shipping – Offer special rates for delivery

3.  Social Media – Make regular updates, especially during the holidays when usage is at its peak!

4.  Customer Service – OVER DELIVER!

5.  Support a Local Charity – Tis the season for giving…setup a promotion with a local charity

6.  Appify – Get a gift that keeps on giving – to your customers!  Mobile apps can update customers on current events and offers that your business has, and with features like push notifications, you will have access to your customers 24/7!

Referral Marketing

A loyalty program should keep your hard earned loyal customers YOURS while allowing a business to nurture that relationship unlike many generic programs that share your contacts with other businesses some may even be competitors in the hopes of bringing new customers through the door.  Many business owners are disappointed from the results generated from these types of loyalty programs for the simple reason, its only discounts not engagement and that brings the wrong type of customer through the door…a deal seeker who ultimately hurts a businesses bottom line. Businesses need to shift their way of thinking towards their most valuable asset their loyal customer, since it is their brand advocates that will bring new customers and shop more frequently with you and not a competitors.  A Mass Mobile customization app can create a loyalty program that will build brand affinity by including share-able aspects of your business that are key to the apps success for your business.

Mass Mobile gives business’ the ability to encourage customers to “SHARE” on all social media platforms and gives the customer the opportunity to earn dollars/points for behaviors like sharing on social media. A business can increase their persuasive impact and customers intention to purchase through engagement. Customers are more engaged when the customer finds value in the loyalty rewards offered creating brand affinity. Business’s must connect their loyalty programs to their social media profile since the integration of social media to apps & websites needs to be seamless  in order for customers to share. The value of referral marketing is just as significant as S.E.O  since it drives the number of new customer acquisitions by creating trust and loyalty. A business can connect to more potential customers by simply tapping into the customers circle of friends. By intising customers with an offer that is both exciting and rewarding it will enable a business to capture the attention of its customers to share and download. endorsements by a ‘friend’ are regarded positively since 84% of consumers trust recommendations from their friends. A business must have an effective referral strategy to meet their objectives in a loyalty app strategies may include: 1) share and win, 2) share and save (coupons sweepstakes), 3) give and get, 4) share and charitable donations.

The referral feature on mass mobiles loyalty app is extremely user friendly for easy sharing. Businesses need to encourage the help of its loyal customer to become its marketers through spreading the word to their circle of friends and by sharing the apps content. It is estimated that for every ten referrals a business will gain up to eight new customers from simply using a refer friend marketing program. The results are astounding with a 54% conversion rate since customers trust recommendations from their friends. Referral programs are the simplest way to successfully introduce your business to your customers own personal network of friends. This is a cost effective approach to market your brand by bringing the right customers through your door via loyal customers.

 

 

PROMOTE, ENGAGE and REWARD

A common mistake made by many retailers is investing too much of their marketing budget on trying to get new customers, rather than investing in the customers they already have.  Companies/brands must first reward their profit makers for being loyal.  A business should differentiate between customers who bring the most value to their business and reward them accordingly.   To drive activity and boost revenue from a business’s loyalty program it needs to incorporate a tiered reward based platform to reward it’s most valuable asset it’s repeat customer. A spend more – earn more strategy  by rewarding VIP customers based on the value that they bring to your business. By offering discounts and special privileges business’ are afforded the opportunity to build closer relationships with their ideal customers.  Rewarding VIP customers in a tiered loyalty program may include:

1) offering  free goods for liking and sharing on social media.

2) discounts and promotions.

3) special buying opportunities(e.g. advanced viewing of new product).

4) offer preferential service terms/ offer special service(e.g.waiving minimum order quantities).

5) offer cost on products that are affiliated with a big regular priced purchase(e.g.purchase of a coat at regular price, offer either hat, scarf or gloves at 50%off retail).

6) reward introductions and referrals (e.g.offer discounts or free gifts for every new customer they introduce to the business.

7) entice customers to spend more then intended (e.g. spend $50 and get double rewards).

It is a mistake to underestimate the a value loyal customers brings to your business, since they are the ones who purchase more frequently and recommend your brand!

Does your loyalty program recognize the benefit of differentiating rewards to reflect the value they bring to your business?

5 Reasons why business owners need a mobile app

Why business owners need a mobile app

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Mobile apps are the fastest growing segment in mobile marketing, and will be a driving force for any business to achieve not only sales success but to establish brand loyalty.  All SME’s need to be up to speed with the technological developments, as well as keep pace in the market and MOST IMPORTANTLY be of use to their customers.  It is no longer a question of whether your business will adopt a mobile strategy, but rather when it will happen.  Here are 5 reasons why you should invest in a mobile app:

  1. The very near future is going to be all about mobile

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Estimates are that by 2015 there will be over 2 billion smart phones in use.  Of these users approximately 39% will not even own a laptop or desktop computer.  The only way they will be able to access the World Wide Web, is via their smartphone of tablet.  Pair that information with the fact that 55% of searches on mobile devices result in some form of action, either a visit to an actual bricks and mortar store front, a telephone call, or a purchase, confirms the relevance of mobile devices.  An astute business owner will realize that early adoption is the key, and be at the fore front of the mobile revolution.

  1. Mobile will encourage local shopping

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Small business owners who lean on their local community will need to start thinking of their mobile strategy if they are to stay competitive, and hope to increase their market share.  A recent study done by Pew Internet & American Life Project, has shown that 74% of smartphone owners use location services to find places they plan to visit, such as retail stores, restaurants, and cafes.  Another study conducted in 2013 indicated that 66% of buyers planned to do their Christmas shopping in local and independent stores, and that 68% of them planned on using their mobile devices to assist them with purchases.

 

  1. Mobile payments

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Some merchants have already begun offering mobile payment methods for consumers, and all major processing companies have invested heavily in updating aging hardware to be able to transition to mobile payment systems. Apple, and Android devices are already capable, and it won’t be long before the option of mobile payment will be as prevalent as the traditional plastic credit card.  It is no longer the American Express card that people don’t leave home without – it is the smartphone!

 

  1. Users

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To keep your customers coming back, its time you not only show them you value their business but you prove it as well.  How can you do this with a mobile app? A built in loyalty program will do the trick!  This will not only give your customers further incentive to shop with you, but will also make sure that your app is not something that is downloaded and then deleted shortly after. Studies have shown that applications with any types of rewards are maintained on mobile devices, even if the user no longer uses the app.  Investing in mobile is a good way for business owners to stay competitive and relevant in their respective fields. The future is now!

  1. Speed and all the other virtues

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Today’s consumer does not only want quick and instant service, they expect it.  If a customer cannot get they want out of your website within a few seconds, they are on to the next one, likely your competition. If your business has developed its own smartphone app, your customers will be able to contact you in seconds, and it will be much easier for them to do it this way.  It is services like this that will separate you from your competition!

Click Here to find out more

Marketing Ideas that build your brand

” The product should be it’s own salesman.  Not the product alone but the product plus a mental impression, atmosphere which you place around it.” therefore a business needs to have a solid understanding of their customer and of how to go about building their brand to achieve sustainable profitability. As a result  the job of marketing your business does not end at figuring out who your target audience is, it is just the beginning. After collecting data from these four categories;

A) Demographic ( male,female,income, age)

B) Location (town,city,province,state,global)

C) Interests (clubs,hobbies, affiliates)

D) Life Events (Single, married expecting,retiring)

A business will not only have a solid insight into who exactly their  customer is, but their IDEAL customer ” a person who not only wants to do business with you, but that you want to do business with.” It is important to utilize this information to your advantage when marketing your business that your objectives (increase customer satisfaction,and or increase profitability) are implemented effectively to achieve desired results.  A business owner must  find extremely innovative ways to engage with it’s customer’s by building social communities via social platforms e.g facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest etc by sharing ideals, photos and by posting regularly in order to remain visible to your customer.  A consistent, relevant communication on these social networks will encourage customers to interact with your business and develop an affinity to your brand.  But the icing on the cake of marketing your business would be a customizable loyalty app tailored to YOUR customers wants & needs.  An app would allow a business owner direct access to its customer 24/7 giving an immense opportunity to interact with your customer in a meaningful way!

It is important that existing and potential customers recognize the value in down loading your app by showcasing the benefits of the program that comes along with being a valued member.  The challenge will be present itself  initially  when trying to acquire the apps first users but it will go much more smoothly by creating a hype and excitement before launching your new loyalty app.  It is important that you know exactly the goals or goals that you want your app to achieve

1) solidify loyalty from existing customers

2) increase sales through engagement

3) keep customers knowledgeable of sales, promotions or events

4) interact with your customers through engagement, similar threads of interest

To help  make the launch of your app successful marketing strategies can be used to further your brand and help reach their target audience and boost downloads

1) add originality to your app, be creative, don’t mimic someone else

2) optimize your app so it is visible

3) have a working website, be active setting up social networks

4) update new versions based on feedback

5) keep an accurate  account of your apps progress

It takes the time and effort of a business  to take the initiative to go the distance, not just to meet but to exceed the customers expectations. The key lays in engaging shoppers throughout the year, across as many social platforms as possible.  Since the wants and needs of the consumer is constantly changing  “Consumers value their time and will change their shopping behaviors based on the technological tools available.” An app from MASS MOBILE APPS will execute your vision and make shopping a social mobile experience for your business… giving  customers a compelling reason to do business with you! [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]