Why would you want an app for your business? When the Apple App store has over 1,000 apps submitted to it each and every day, it can be difficult to see the value in being part of that veritable deluge of content. It’s easy to think that since customers need to wade through so much to find your app, discoverability will be too difficult to make the investment of time and resources worthwhile.
But it is worth investing in developing a mobile app for your business for many reasons. The mobile phone is one of the most personal devices that people now own – in fact, studies have shown that people would rather lose their wallet than their phone.
By placing your app on their phone, a customer is investing a great deal of trust in your brand and showing you loyalty and confidence, and this makes them your most valued customers.
Why do you need an app?
1. To provide better customer support
A mobile app gives customers a way to connect with your brand 24/7, regardless of where they are. This is an opportunity to offer them a significant new communications channel, and will generate many leads as a consequence.
Consider a company like Uber. It would never have been as successful as it has been were it not for people’s ability to communicate with the business and book a car from within the mobile app.
2. To collect data about your customers
Just like a well designed website, a good app can provide a wealth of data about your customers. You’ll be able to learn how they engage with your brand, their demographic information, and even how they move around. You’ll need to have their trust that you’ll use the data responsibly, but the ability to collect data and then use it in a meaningful way to tailor products, services and special offers for the individual customer makes an app a powerful resource to your business’ marketing strategy.
3. To be immediately available to your customers
Convenience dominates how we both work and play, and any business not facilitating convenience is not going to be competitive in the modern environment. An app not only reminds the customer of your brand every time they turn on their phone, it also gives them immediate access to it. A well-designed app will provide all the information a customer needs on your business almost instantly, and that, in turn, will result in a greater level of engagement with your brand.
4. To reduce the cost of other marketing initiatives
Because apps have the ability to push out messages, it’s possible to use the app in the place of costly SMS or email campaigns. By using push messages to alert the customer about breaking news, you’re able to reduce your reliance on these other campaigns and provide even more immediate access to customers. While it’s important not to abuse the push marketing capabilities of apps (too many push notifications and people tend to delete the app), for businesses that use them well, the upfront cost of producing an app do become long term savings.
5. To improve customer loyalty
Apps are also able to largely replace more traditional loyalty campaigns. If you’ve got a loyalty card, it’s a simple matter of digitising it into the app to allow customers to get rid of the physical card (which often gets lost anyway). By integrating with Facebook or other social networks, it’s also easy to use the app to allow customers to “check in” when they visit your physical business. This allows you to offer specialised coupons and promotions, which leave a positive impression on the customer and give them a sense of value for having downloaded your app.
Paul Lin is CEO of Empirical Works, one of Australia’s leading enterprise mobility companies. He has built apps and mobile solutions for some of the world’s biggest brands including Jim Beam, Skoda, Levi’s & Weight Watchers.