No longer limited to tech companies and major corporations, these days it seems like many businesses have a mobile app. Is it a fad, a gimmick, or do apps provide genuine value to businesses? Although Canada’s mobile app industry lags behind some other countries, the use of apps is growing. Since mobile apps started gaining popularity in 2007 the industry has created a total of 64,100 new jobs across the country.
According to a report by the Information and Communications Technology Council, “companies that build apps in Canada generate about $1.7 billion in revenue, with that figure estimated to go up to $5.2 billion by 2019,” IT Business reports.
If your business is looking to make the most of digital content, then investing in an app may have a positive impact on your customers and could provide a genuine return on investment (ROI).
What is the value of having an app?
One of the primary reasons apps can be such effective marketing tools for businesses of all sizes is their versatility. Apps can be built for virtually any business and can perform any function that is offered through other digital platforms, particularly websites. The greatest advantages of apps are:
- Strong opportunities for engagement with customers on mobile devices
- An improved user experience (UX)
- Wider access to the Millennial market
- Increased direct marketing opportunities
- Wider brand recognition.
Mobile is the future (and the present)
The average person spends over two hours per day on their mobile device. Think that’s a lot of time? Studies show that the amount of time we spend on our mobile devices is growing. About 75% of people check their smartphone at least once per hour, and 90% of the time we spend with our phones is now devoted to using apps.
According to MarketingLand.com “mobile now represents 65% of digital media time.” The desktop, once the only way to access the digital world, now only represents “35 percent of digital time spent” and has fallen in use 12% since 2013. In fact, according to Tech Crunch, the amount of time people spend in mobile apps has now even surpassed the amount of time that they watch television. As if these stats aren’t convincing enough, there are a number of benefits to using a mobile app, including:
Improving user experience
Most modern websites should be optimized for mobile and consideration should be given to apps for consumers. Any business that does not have a mobile optimized site risks turning away customers, or alienating customers as a result of a frustrating mobile experience.
As important as it is to ensure your website is optimized for mobile, mobile apps can provide a mobile optimized experience that may surpass even the best website. User experience is vital for finding, retaining, and converting users into customers. Modern consumers expect seamless results delivered instantly, and one of the best ways to do that is through a mobile app.
Connecting with a younger market
In 2015, total smartphone penetration across the general population was 79%, but among 18-34 year olds, that figure was an astounding 93%. There’s little doubt that a useful way to reach and retain this demographic is with an app.
Executing effective direct marketing campaigns
Businesses pay huge sums of money to access potential customers. Direct mail marketing works because it gets your brand, your product, and your promotion directly into the mailbox of potential clients.
Much of society is living increasingly digital lives, and their mobile devices form the core of this world. An app creates a direct digital marketing channel that allows you to bypass crowded email and deliver your marketing content directly onto the consumer’s smartphone. Push notifications create an even more direct approach, forcing your clients to engage with your brand and your marketing materials.
The Starbucks app is a simple example. Coffee lovers who download the app are able to order via their mobile phone, receive notifications about new drink flavours and specials, and gold star members receive a special birthday present on their birthday (a free drink).
Creating brand recognition
An effective app icon that sits on your user’s mobile phone serves as a constant reminder of your brand, building crucial brand recognition over time.
Providing real value
Building an app can provide real value to your customers. For example, you can design an app to:
- Make it simple to interact with your company (think of a digitized rewards program)
- Solve an issue related to your business (like a currency converter app or an app to help customers take accurate measurements for home improvement products)
- Allow customers to contact you directly with any problems, issues or questions they may have.
Form part of a comprehensive marketing strategy
Users expect a seamless transition between all marketing channels, and an app enables you to deliver that experience.
Is an app the right choice for your business?
Many small to medium enterprises (SME’s) still believe that building an app is an expensive, complicated, or arduous process. The truth of the matter is that, yes apps are real investments, but the cost may be less than you think.
Marketing your mobile app
Once you have built a mobile app, there still remains one obstacle — getting people to download it. Use these app marketing strategies to maximize the number of people who download and use your app:
- Find a niche: Your business is successful because it fulfills a need in the market, apply the same strategy to your app.
- Optimize your app for app stores: Ensure your app appears when users search for certain keywords in their preferred app store.
- Pay-per-click advertising: marketing your app on mediums such as Google or Facebook can provide awareness for thousands of individuals interested in your product or service.
- Build a landing page: Use a custom landing page packed with effective content and strong calls to action to capture traffic.
- Leverage your existing digital channels: Promote your app using social media, your email or direct mail marketing lists, your website, your blog, and any other relevant digital properties.
- Run a contest: Reward people for downloading your app with the opportunity to win.
- Use your offline marketing efforts: An app should be part of a comprehensive marketing strategy that utilizes digital and traditional marketing techniques to increase effectiveness.
Building an app is the best way to reach mobile users, and the best way to market your app is by leveraging your existing marketing channels. Apps are not fads, they are here to stay and will continue to play a key marketing role for businesses of all sizes.