Why your small business needs a mobile app

Many small businesses are unsure whether they need a mobile app, many believing that their mobile website is enough. Are you staying relevant?

Are you app-solutely missing the boat?

These days, we carry our smartphones everywhere. People are using them to play, order food, make purchases, do research, communicate, check reviews, read books, find love and generally get by day to day. Some people are even running their business from their phone! In fact, many of you probably prefer using apps over your desktop when it comes to things like checking emails, updating your social media accounts or checking your online banking.

Smartphones have already revolutionized the way brands can market to consumers through branded apps that connect businesses to their customers 24/7. Brands are already using apps successfully to connect with their customers, think of Dominoes and Starbucks, Ebay and Amazon they are using apps really successfully. Apps offer a far more direct marketing channel now than ever in the past, from an push notification that offers you a personalized offer  when smart geolocation technology detects a customer is near their store, to in-app offers that offer a 10 percent discount if you purchase those 3 items that have been sitting in your basket for the past 3 days.

Yelp and Foursquare are just two examples of brands who are leveraging push notification marketing. Both have the option for users to get notifications if their friends check in to a nearby location, if there is an event near you, or even send coupons from nearby stores. One of the reasons push works so well as a channel for communication is that push has a 97 percent open rate, so you now have a way to get seen immediately by people who are already near your location. Compare that to an industry average of a 4 percent open rate for email, and it’s clear why push is the best channel for time sensitive and immediate communication.

And it isn’t just notifications that depend on your location, it’s also about making the user’s life easier, such as ordering printed photos from Walgreens though their app, or downloading a store’s app and receiving a coupon on the spot.

While this was once something only the big businesses with even bigger budgets could afford in the past, these days, you need an app to be relevant. In 2017, even more businesses will start to embrace mobile technologies - specifically native apps for iOS and Android. The increasing quality of emerging DIY app builders means it's cheaper and easier than ever to make your own app.

AppInstitute is a powerful DIY app builder platform that allows small businesses to create and manage their own mobile app for iPhone, Android and Tablet Devices. The simple drag and drop interface means anyone can create an app for their business without any coding knowledge, and with monthly prices starting at $30 per app (a fraction of the cost of hiring a developer) even the smallest of businesses are able to leverage the power of mobile marketing.

Kintone, Knack, and Snappii are also codeless app builders, which means you don’t need to know any coding to be able to build it. There are also platforms like Zoho Creator, offers a “low-code” app builder, and has a very neat drag-and-drop interface.

Still many small businesses are unsure whether they need a mobile app, many believing that their mobile website is enough. The fact is, is it depends on each individual business but it's important to know that a mobile app and a mobile compatible website serves two very distinct functions. Where a mobile site is integral to your site's overall online presence, SEO and discovery, a mobile app is essential to customer retention, driving sales and encouraging customer loyalty.

There are so many options out there to help you create an app for your business. Once your mobile app is live, the magic begins. Between push notifications and being able to target your app users based on location, you will have the ability to push out mobile coupons instantly to all your app customers or promote special offers, and more.

Many small businesses are wary of the cost of building an app for their company, but with the fantastic tools available, you can get a low cost, no code app made in less than an hour, to strengthen your brand, promote your product or service, and reach more customers.

In TUNE's "Global Mobile 2016" report, they estimated that there were 180 billion app downloads in 2015, which would equate to 493 million downloads per day. That number has only gone up since then. According to Harvard Business Review, users spend, on average, 82% of their mobile minutes with apps and just 18% with web browsers. They download about 40 apps to their phones (out of more than a million available) and regularly use about 15.

Trust me, you need an app. If you’ve used a DIY app builder, tell us about your experience!

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