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The Benefits of Having Your Own App for a Small Business

mobile app
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Jason Bott
ByPor Jason Bott

Jason has been working as a consultant and project manager with enterprises of all sizes for over 20 years. His expertise lies in utilizing technology to solve problems that reduce costs and increase profits. He has been instrumental in implementing successful software projects for Shell, NOV, C&J, Nabors, Total, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Noble, American Tower, AIG, NASA, Nike as well as many smaller firms.

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The world is changing. Everywhere you go, the vast majority of people no longer have their noses buried in books, but pressed up against a small portable screen playing with the latest app. A 2015 survey showed that in Q2 of that year, the average person spent more time using apps on their smartphones, than watching TV.

The word smartphone is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion. Honestly, what percentage of your smartphone usage is dedicated to phoning people? The average American spends 4.7 hrs a day using their smartphone and has 5 social media accounts – that’s a lot of time spent reading about an ex-neighbor-from-9-years-ago’s new fridge and discovering what your favorite c-list celebrity thought of the new frozen yogurt bar in their neighborhood…

But the point of this blog isn’t to pass judgement, it’s to think about how a small business owner can take advantage of these trends and harness the power of the smartphone market.

An app to get ahead

So how can a small business get a head start on their competition? By having their very own app!

Think about it, the days of the yellow pages are fading and most businesses now have a social media presence, but to give your business that little ‘je ne sais quoi, oh so very special’, it’s worth looking into apps and how they can benefit your business.

Worldwide smartphone sales hit almost 350 million in the first quarter of 2016, and made up 78% of all cell phone sales. Furthermore, of these almost 350 million smartphones, 98.9% of them run on either Android or iOS, so even if you tap into just a tiny fraction of what’s out there it could have a considerable effect on your business.

So let’s have a look at what your own app can bring to your business:

Increased engagement

OK, so you have a Facebook page, I get it, but let’s think about that. Someone used your service, liked it in real life, and then ‘liked’ it on Facebook. Whoopee! Your occasional posts, no matter how great or enticing, are swamped beneath the deluge of cat pictures and videos of whatever terrible music the kids listen to nowadays.

Contrast that to a push message. Now your mouth-watering offer is sent directly to their smartphones – without any feline interference – and BANG! You’re in.  Add a bit more?

Rewarding existing customers

Human beings are creatures of habit; when we have a good experience, we want to repeat it. Be it a nice meal or a good quality service, we like to stick to what we know. Take advantage of that by offering your repeat customers extra rewards and incentives. Your app could incorporate a loyalty system, special offers, and coupons, pushed to their phones to give them a little consumerist jolt when needed.

Online bookings, sign-ups and transactions

Offering your services online is one thing, but being able to offer it via an app is another entirely. The convenience of being able to book an appointment at the dentist, request a table in a fancy restaurant or sign up for an aerobics class at your local gym for the cost of a few touches and swipes, should not be overlooked. If they can then pay for the service at the same time, that’s a bonus. But just having that booking system in place could benefit you enormously.

Accelerated contact > enhanced relationships

People hate being on hold. It’s a universal truth. Add to that the fact that people have become increasingly impatient over the years with the advancement of technology, and we can see that replying to requests or queries as quickly as possible is paramount in this day and age. If you can answer questions almost immediately, and more importantly, if your customers are able to contact you quickly and effortlessly, then surely you have an upper hand in a market saturated with competition? As I said before, we are creatures of habit. If you provide a good service to a customer, as well as a business card, offer them an app.

The Psychological bit

Having your app on someone’s phone, can also benefit your business, even if they don’t actively use it. Just the effect of scrolling past it every day, without being fully aware of it, can aid you. If we can see or hear something, even if we don’t notice it, this is supraliminal. Your app will stick in the user’s mind even if they don’t realize it. Whether you sell pizza or are a plumber, if the app user is feeling hungry or has a dripping faucet, your app will (hopefully!!) pop into their heads.