When is your business ready for an app?

Kate Jones
@kateljnes

Your business has a website, but does it need an app? With more than 80 per cent of Australians owning smartphones, it may be time to consider making your business mobile-friendly.

Apps are not only a marketing tool, but also a means of communicating directly with customers. Thanks to push notifications, apps can notify customers of sales, promotions, changes and alerts.

And they aren’t just for big businesses. Forward-thinking small to medium businesses have their own dedicated apps as a way to best reach their customers.

Smartphone use statistics show that putting all your business information at a customer’s fingertips is a wise move. A 2014 Deloitte survey found smartphone ownership is at 81 per cent – up 21 per cent over the last three years.

Matt Antonino, marketing consultant and business strategist, says apps also help build brand recognition.

It is important for small businesses to have an app if they want to reach the 50 per cent of customers who browse predominantly from their mobile device.

“It is important for small businesses to have an app if they want to reach the 50 per cent of customers who browse predominantly from their mobile device,” he says.

“Your app can also help with check-ins, increased engagement and brand recognition, and improve your existing social media and beacon (location) marketing.

“Instead of fighting for attention in a mobile browser, once the customer installs an app, you have exclusive access to their attention while they are in your app.”

Deciding whether to invest time and money into an app all comes down to knowing whether your business wants to attract more customers.

Instead of fighting for attention in a mobile browser, once the customer installs an app, you have exclusive access to their attention while they are in your app.

“A small business needs an app when one of two situations is occurring – you are losing customers because their needs aren’t being met and an app would help meet those needs, or if notifications to customers about your business would increase return visits, extra purchases or more brand engagement,” Antonino says.

When planning your app, ensure it is easy for customers to find, access and install. This means making it available on both Apple and Android platforms.

Apple takes up to four weeks to approve new apps, while Android turns around applications in 48 hours.

Apps should be easy to use for customers on the move. This means keeping design and functionality simple.

Most importantly, ensure your app provides value for your customers. In addition to general information such as prices and booking forms, think about digitising your rewards program, allowing check-ins or sending notifications when products come back in stock.

Kate Jones

Kate Jones writes for the business and money sections of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She also writes for The New Daily, TAC, RMIT and is a news writing tutor at Monash University.

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