Why your business needs a mobile app?

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By Mariana Antonescu

Today, the majority of the population owns a smartphone. Smartphones have revolutionised almost every aspect of our daily lives including communication, information access and consumerism. According to a CNN Money report, app usage makes up 47% of Internet traffic.


If you think that mobile apps in Cyprus are solely for big names like The Mall of Cyprus you are wrong. More and more small and midsize businesses are following the mobile trend, understanding that an effective mobile strategy involves more than just a mobile-friendly website.
In fact, these days you’ll notice that many small businesses you interact with in your everyday life have their own dedicated mobile app — be it the corner coffee shop or the beauty spa downtown. These companies understood that mobile technology has changed how companies reach customers and are ahead of the game when it comes to taking their marketing to the next level by using apps as “extensions” of their products.
So, what could an app do for your business?
Improve Customer Engagement. A crucial part of your business is maintaining strong relationships with your clients. It can be difficult to achieve in practice, but you need to deliver great service in order to keep and grow your customer base. This is where the mobile world can help you. A chat feature in your mobile app directly connects you to your clients, providing them with real-time customer service. Apps can also include a feature to book appointments and set reminders. Another important aspect of utilising a mobile app is that you can collect valuable information and feedback about consumer behavior. By requesting a quick survey or asking customers to join your business’s mailing list, you can gain insight into customers’ location, interests and preferences. This feedback can be crucial to continually improving your business.
Create a Direct Marketing Channel. One of the biggest benefits of having a mobile app is that is helping businesses increase revenue largely by increasing efficiency. Instead of advertising to a broad spectrum, users can be narrowly targeted as apps can provide news feeds, general information, search features, user accounts, prices, booking forms and much more. Through push notifications, businesses are getting even closer to direct interaction, and can easily remind customers about their products and services whenever it makes sense. A national chain could easily send city- or region-specific notifications about special offers based on what users in that area are interested in, a restaurant could boost loyalty by sending a special offer to customers who had been in the past year but not in the last two months, a store could announce a sale on sunglasses when it’s predicted to be sunny soon.
Customer service and support. Making it simpler and more efficient for your customers to get in touch with your company and offering them tools to make their life easier while using your products or services can be a great reason to develop a mobile app. Ryanair has launched an app that allows members to search cheap flights on their iPhone and get the lowest prices to hundreds of destinations within Europe, to add services to existing booking, check-in for flights and get a mobile boarding pass direct to their mobile phone. This makes customers’ lives easier and is a value-added to their existing service.
Helps you stay visible to your customers at all times. Once a customer downloads your app, it will constantly appear on their device. This ensures your brand’s visibility every time they look at their phone or tablet. For this reason, mobile apps should be frequently updated with information and updates. One way to make sure that loyal customers are receiving information about new products, promotions, or upcoming events is by enabling push notifications. You can also include mobile app exclusive discounts or specials to make sure that customers check the app often.
Cultivate Customer Loyalty. With all the noise out there – banners, flashing signs, billboards, newspaper ads, coupons, flyers, websites and website banners – we slowly lose our impact on customers because of the immense amount of advertising surrounding us all. It’s time to go back to making a true and sincere connection with your customers, and making them a loyal lover of your product and/or service. By personalising your services you create a unique experience for customers and keep them coming back. Likewise by connecting mobile apps to social media, you can obtain customer feedback through the app directly to their social media channels. Specialised service and a focus on what’s important to individual customers will set your business apart.
Convinced yet? I am, for sure! Apps give you the opportunity to present your products as solutions to your customers’ problems and can be a valuable tool in business advertising, but they must be handled properly in order to successfully promote the company.
Competition is fierce in the app arena, and success is determined by how you market your app. You must constantly promote it on your website, on social accounts, and probably through advertising, too. You should also consider how the app will improve upon your existing website and services, how much it will cost and what the competition offers. If at the end of day you decide that your app really will add something in the way of functionality, novelty, and usefulness, then by all means, app away.

Mariana Antonescu (MBA) is a business consultant with a special interest in the field of Social Media Marketing. www.mari10.blog.com