In 2018, global mobile app revenues amounted to over 365 billion U.S. dollars which is all set to increase to 935 billion U.S. dollars in 2023. So, the mobile market is invincible at the moment without any signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future. This influences and encourages a lot of small businesses to create a mobile app.
We, in this article, aim to point out the advantages of mobile apps for business and also point out how to figure out if an SMB needs a mobile app. We also provide a 4 pointer list of ways to succeed in this small business mobile apps domain.
Recent research also shows that 90% of the user’s mobile time is spent on apps. So, you might be thinking to yourself, I need to develop a mobile app for my business too. This is like saying, everyone likes pizza, so I need to open a pizza eatery.
Sure, people download and use a lot more apps than before, but this alone cannot be a deciding factor to create an app. For a mobile app to succeed, your users must download the app and users must use the app. Before deciding on mobile app development, a business must first assess the app’s target audience, it’s goals and whether or not it has enough resources to develop the app.
So, first, let us analyze what are the added benefits of a mobile app and then we will move on to how SMBs can analyze whether or not they need an app.
Benefits of mobile app development for Small businesses. Why mobile applications are important?
 Builds you a loyal customer base
Business is always about reciprocation and mobile apps are becoming a crucial medium of interaction between brands and customers. If you get people to download your app and come up with strategies that don’t encourage them to delete it, you have your fans!
A mobile app provides more value to your customers. You interact with your customers in real-time. You respond to their queries immediately and you are always on their mind.
Mobile apps let us conduct great customer loyalty programs. How do loyalty programs work? Well, when your customers buy certain stuff, they are awarded points based on the purchase. These points are added up and they are deducted in the form of money on the next transaction. These loyalty programs can be used exclusively for mobile apps, thus encouraging people to download the app.
 Brand recognition
A mobile app means branding. Apps are an extension of your brand and once they enter your customer’s personal space, the brand carves its niche and builds value for itself.
With a mobile app, your brand creates an image, that image is what people think when they hear about your business.
A strong brand means trust. And when you are trusted by your users, it helps with easy introduction of new products, enhanced credibility and a competitive edge in the market.
 Targeted marketing
The first round of information such as name, age and other personal details are collected during onboarding. Once the customers start using the app, other details like customer preferences, budget, and holistic customer behavior can be analyzed.
This pool of data will help create targeted and personalized marketing strategies for different customer cohorts. Targeted business strategies will help improve marketing and audience experiences, and at the same time build brand awareness and loyalty.
With this marketing strategy, you can speak directly to a defined audience and attract and convert high-quality leads. This will also help you differentiate your brand from the other competing brands in the niche.
Also, another thing that sets mobile apps apart from everything else is its capability to access to the device’s inbuilt features (camera, location, etc). Leveraging device capabilities can further help businesses provide a personalized experience to their customer base.
 Improve customer interaction
Businesses today understand the value of customer interaction and are increasingly utilizing multiple channels to interact and communicate with customers.
Convenience is a fundamental factor when it comes to customer experience and with mobile apps, businesses buy convenience. Mobile apps provide users with instant access to all sorts of information. Starting from the simple contact info to “how-to” articles, mobile apps have it all.
There are also forums where your users can have discussions related to products or services. Then they can also look for a store locator and there’s a map that directs them towards a store that will come handy too.
Live chat is also a convenient way for the customer to get in touch with customer representatives. It also helps when your users require answers to “FAQs” - For ex : When will my order be delivered? A live chat guides them towards the tracking system and they can easily track the order without some representative having to give up some of their valuable time for this.
A live chat also means that the customer is not put on hold for getting assistance. It improves the level of engagement and convenience as customers then 24x7 real-time support.
 Increase sales and revenue
As customer engagement increases and customer experience improves, sales will start improving too. By making the complete purchase process more user friendly, convenient and intuitive makes the customer experience better and hence increases sales.
Also, one can also monetize mobile apps that help businesses earn further revenue. If your users feel you are doing a good job and providing them with some value, they will be more than happy to pay.
Some mobile app monetization methods are :
- In-app purchases
- Revenue from advertisements
- Upgrade to Remove Ads
- Affiliate Programs
- Loyalty rewards and coupons
Some other benefits of mobile app development include:
- Inform users of new products and offers
- Standing out from the competition
- Improved visibility
Now that we know that mobile apps are good for one’s business, let’s see under what circumstances should one develop a mobile app.
So, when does it make sense to invest in a mobile app?
- You already have a loyal customer base. This means you have built a website and it gains constant traction.
- You have an e-commerce website and you want to provide your users with the convenience of shopping from their phones.
- You have a SaaS product ( like maybe an app that tracks their mutual funds or a productivity app) and your customers love checking their dashboard once a day.
- You are confident your app idea will increase the efficiency and productivity of your internal or external stakeholders.
- You intend to access user's device capabilities, like GPS, click-to-call, cameras, or scanners, maybe because you look to build a food delivery app.
- You look to build a dynamic content-based interactive forum that requires a mobile app
- Your want to develop an Interactive game-based app
Source : Statista
See, if you are just starting out and have no significant user base, stick to a web app. A web app is a website that behaves like an app. If you have a product idea that is quite widespread amongst the demography, then stick around a while to see if the product idea offers something new and if people are at all buying it before you go for an app.
Read more: Web app vs Mobile app
Also, a mobile app means constant maintenance and updates, so, the budget also plays a role here. Make sure you have a considerable amount of money that you can spend to develop an app. Also, make sure you can afford a software development company at your beck and call.
Whether or not you decide to develop a mobile app, we being a mobile app development company for 8 years now have 3 pieces of advice that would help you develop a mobile app that’s successful.
Ingredients for a Successful Mobile App
 The app should solve a problem
Ask yourself this question - Would I use this app? Does it solve my problem? Are there other apps that solve the same problem? Is my app better than them?
These questions should make your mobile app vision clear. Every successful app aims to solve a problem or satisfy a consumer need. Have a vision of what you want to achieve with this app. Carry out market research to identify the app potential and the target audience it will draw.
Take a look at the customer pain points and understand the problems that your app needs to solve. This will provide you with new insights and help make your app successful.
 Keep it Simple, Silly
When developing an app, keep in mind that the user experience is what will help keep your app on a user’s phone and uninstall someone else’s app from their phone. The interface should be so easy that even a person who doesn’t understand anything about technology can operate it.
Remember, when it comes to mobile app development, less is more. Keep an easy, simple yet captivating design in mind and crave efficiency. The app must be visually appealing, easy to navigate and shouldn’t have an extensive learning curve. Give users simplicity in an app and they won’t go around looking for similar ones.
 Carry out extensive testing
Rigorous testing is the key to any sort of software development, more so for mobile app development. App testing enables enterprises and small businesses to make sure that the application they built is accessible across multiple platforms and is scalable in its functionality, usability, and consistency.
The absolute crucial thing about mobile app testing is to test its behavior across various devices. So, make sure that you select the devices as per the preferences of the target group. It also makes sure that any bug, no matter how small is solved before the app goes live.
Users generally distance themselves from underperforming apps, Testing rigorously and from day 1 make sure your app doesn’t fall in that category.
Source : Business of Apps
 Market it right
Whether you are new or you are already a big player in a niche, marketing your mobile app is a different ball game altogether. Lack of marketing creates a high possibility that your app will be lost in the clutter.
Come up with a catchy tagline, start a blog, use social media, ask for app reviews, write guest blogs for other technical sites etc are some ideas that might appeal to you and fit into your existing marketing plan.
With evolving consumer behaviour, the need for businesses to adapt their strategy is becoming more and more crucial with the days. This is a prime reason why businesses, both large and small are rapidly moving towards mobile apps development.
So, mobile apps require some investment but they also offer great value but only when you get it right! A mobile app means valuable opportunities for targeted lead generation and enhanced customer interaction. So, consider your goals and make sure your app solves a problem. Mobile app development for small business means in-depth analysis of requirements, a very simplistic design and loads of testing. These are exactly what your small business app needs to succeed in this competitive field.