The numbers are showing that the majority of people in the United States have a smartphone, and those numbers are growing. Now, more than ever, consumers are on the go. Business is being conducted from home, cafes, hotels. People are interacting with their surroundings and each other using mobile apps. So, how does a company set itself up to hit these now-moving targets? Contrary to popular notions, there isn’t a one-size solution.
Does My Business Need A Mobile App?
Before you go shelling out mega buckaroonies to create mobile software, take into consideration that there are thousands upon thousands of mobile apps out there. While having a mobile app for your business is certainly a cool novelty, there are a few things that you should consider before going into full on production.
1) How useful is this app in relation to my business or service? If, say, you’re an independent hair salon and you create a mobile app to book appointments and remind clients of their appointments, to keep track of hairstyle ideas, and to order products, it might be a cost-effective way to retain clientele. However, if you’re a lesser known rock band, you might want to consider going a different route to gain popularity and to get people to play and buy your songs. People use apps that are useful to them, that fit into their everyday life structure and behavior. Games and other entertainment apps, while they can modify consumer behavior temporarily, get old, unless they change frequently or there’s a social element (and even then, they eventually die). If there isn’t an incentive to use your app, people will tire of it, and you’ll be left with the maintenance bill.
2) Does my business have the resources to maintain, support and market my app? If you build it, it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Apps need to be tested, refined, and tested again, launched to the public, and maintained for optimum performance and changes in mobile software and devices. Features need to be modified and changed based on consumer preferences and the optimization of user experience. Plus, you’ll need some go-to-market strategy on how to let consumers know that you have an app. In other words, an app is basically like starting a whole new division of your business.
3) Why am I launching the app? If your primary goal is to build a consumer base, stop right there. Do not pass ‘Go’ or fork over any money toward that app until you’ve got a consumer base. Not that you can’t attract more business via mobile app, but it’s an expensive way to market your brand, and, again, not very effective. Instead of having one marketing strategy for your business, you also must have an independent strategy for marketing your app, thereby investing time and money trying to convince people that they need an app to do business with a company they’ve never heard of. It gets complicated and I do not recommend it.
There Are Other Ways To Go Mobile
Fortunately, there are tons of other ways to reach consumers on the go, many of which are free of charge. Location-based apps like Yelp! and Foursquare let consumers check-in to your business with their mobile phones, write reviews and share their location with friends via social networks. You don’t have to spend a dime to appear in these apps, but you can pay for premiums, like being a featured location in searches, or providing special promotions and deals.
Don’t forget that social media is also mobile. Facebook and Twitter users are accessing their accounts as much by phone as by computer. Know your audience. If you have a fan page, speak to your mobile users as much as your traditional computer interface users. Encourage them to take on-the-spot photos, to talk about how long they’ve been waiting in line at their grocery store, and more. Find freedom in their freedom. And this mode of mobile advertising is free too!
Of course, you can always pay for mobile spots, ad services like AdMob, TapJoy, Google Mobile Ads, and InMobi are all great ways to launch and monitor mobile ad campaigns. From mobile banner ads to placement in mobile apps, these ad services have you covered, are easy to use, and can be tailored to your business needs.
If you’re still unsure of how to go mobile, consult your friendly neighborhood mobile marketing pro, or reach out to me anytime at solange DOT deschatres AT gmail DOT com to discuss how I can guide you through a safe, cost-effective journey into the mobile wilderness.