With so many mobile apps out there, you may wonder how exactly your business is going to manage standing out from the crowd. Between the cost, the technical know-how and the number of choices available, it becomes confusing with all the noise. Here's what you need to know about mobile apps and when a custom app is right for you, so you can be confident when you move your business forward into the virtual space.
Benefits to Consider for Mobile Apps
Apps save employees time and energy by performing processes that would have otherwise been done manually. A custom app created for in-house purposes needs to be something employees will use and understand, and it has to provide a usable service. Companies have started to look at apps the way they look at pens and staplers: it's just another way to get something done around the office. Whereas at one point, apps took major investments to develop and install, now it's become possible to simply buy an off-the-shelf app that is functional enough for a variety of purposes. It's no surprise that people have started using their phones for a different needs, both in their personal and professional lives. Mobile apps give you the type of reach you might never have imagined before and can lead you to connect with customers you might have never realized you wanted.
Figuring It Out
Your business is unique, so these benefits are not a one-size-fits-all piece of advice. If the majority of your customers don't have a smartphone, then this you'd be better off working on your standard website or even stepping up your local campaigns. However, if you do find your customers consistently whipping out their iPhones, then it's likely you should invest in some type of app. You'll need to answer some specific questions about what your customers are hoping for when it comes to their technology. Most people use their phones to shop, sign up for information and learn about new offers. Companies have a difficult road ahead of them trying to figure out how to provide a service without overwhelming the user. If your customers are technophiles who constantly discover the new toys on the market, then they may want to spend the extra money to develop a custom app. With custom apps, you've made the extra effort to give your users the options and features they want rather than just basic tools. You can also consider creating your own app from scratch, but for the majority of small business owners, this isn't necessary.
Strengthening Your Brand
It may not seem like it these days, but customers actually do want to stay loyal to businesses. It becomes difficult for them to make constant changes and often only leads to their feeling disconnected from what they buy. Staying consistent with how you operate is hard when everyone keeps coming out with new-and-improved claims, but apps can be a way to sell your brand and give your customers some sense of stability with your company. When you harness the marketing of custom mobile apps, then you have more flexibility when trying to nail the look and feel of each button, graphics and placement of text. It subconsciously sells your brand to the user, and the more intuitive it is, the more likely it will create the ROI you want to see.
How It Works
You have the option to hire a developer and let them take the reins to build you an app entirely your own, or there are stores where you can get apps that are already designed up to 75% of where you need it to be. The cheapest option is to get a ready-made app which will be the most difficult to manipulate. Custom apps work well for businesses who are somewhere in the middle. They may not have customers who expect the latest cutting-edge options, but they also don't want to use an app with very few choices available to conduct their business. Again, catering to your crowd will take some time, and that's frustrating considering technology changes so quickly. However, the good news is that it becomes easier to implement rather than making everyone (employees and customers) feel like they've got to learn a whole new process just to keep up.
The Bottom Line
Mobile apps can be used both for employees and customers, but it's necessary to make some key decisions to define what you need. Sometimes it helps to have a partner who specializes in apps before you decide how to move forward. You may feel like it will be too difficult to explain what you do on a daily basis, but an established tech company often sees patterns in customer wants that can be incredibly helpful when it comes to deciding on what you need. They can also help you do the testing and deployment so each function works properly on every type of device and to ensure it's secure for your customers. Hackers go after small businesses because their security features are often not up to par. Not only can you use them to consult on your next best course of action, but they can also help you change and grow your business as time goes on. The invaluable advice they give to businesses can often take them to the next level in their business.