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# Does an App Make Sense for Your Business?

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Your business? There’s an app for that.

Unfortunately for them and fortunately for you, most small business owners don’t realize how much untapped potential lies in this marketing medium. Yes, even for small businesses. And especially for local businesses.

If you’re in charge of marketing for an SME, you’re probably at least considering whether or not your business needs a mobile app. With something like 1.4 million apps each in Google Play and the App Store, you might also be thinking the market is saturated, so why bother?

Or maybe you already invested time and resources into building an amazing mobile website, so your customers are covered when they want info on the go about your business. On the surface, it makes sense. But ask yourself these questions:

  • How often does a customer take a picture of your product with your website and share it on their social sites?
  • Does your website tell you when a valued customer walks in your door?
  • Can your website give special perks and discounts to customers with high social influence?
  • Will your website push coupons and incentives to customers when they are within a certain radius of your store?
  • Does your website customize the shopping experience for regular visitors?

These are just a few examples of the inherent marketing value your mobile app offers over a mobile website. And with in-app capabilities such as biometrics, geolocation, sensors, and cameras, the possibilities are virtually endless. Still wondering if your small business needs a mobile app? Then consider the role of the smartphone.

Mobile Is King

If you’re in business, you know that mobile is where the action’s at today—just look at the stats. Since 2008, the average smartphone user has gone from spending just a few minutes a day on his device to spending nearly three hours each day consuming mobile digital media. 

Even more important: About 90 percent of those three hours each day is spent interacting with apps on the mobile device—just over 10 percent is spent on mobile websites.

But I Have a Mobile Website, Why Do I Need a Mobile App?

This is a common question for SMEs with limited resources and budgets. The great thing is that mobile marketing with websites and apps is not an either/or proposition; in fact, a mobile website and native app work hand in hand to accomplish your marketing objectives and advance your revenue goals. Here’s a look at the functionality and advantages of both mobile websites and a mobile apps.

Mobile WebsiteMobile App
Marketing ObjectiveAttracting new customersCreating loyal customers
Mechanism of UseOpen a browser, enter website URLTap an icon on smartphone screen
User InteractionCustomer visits, completes an activity, exits.Open, two-way and ongoing; push notifications enable on-demand communication
Marketing AdvantageMore responsive to search queries (in most cases)Engagement, loyalty, and ease of use. App “lives” on user’s device.

Businesses who limit their mobile presence to a responsive website risk the “buy and bye” scenario: A customer finds you on mobile search, shops or even makes a purchase, and disappears, perhaps forever.On the other hand, businesses who focus solely on marketing via a mobile app might miss out on finding new customers all together.

Does an App Make Sense for Your Business?

This is a question that you should ask yourself before we go any further. If the answer is no, you may not need to read on.

The truth is that apps work well for most small businesses, but they aren’t right for every one.

If you can honestly answer yes to the following questions, you should consider creating a mobile app for your small business:

1. Would you benefit from having the ability to reach your customers 24/7?

Easy question, right? Who wouldn’t want to be able to reach customers wherever they are? It doesn’t

2. Can you provide a fun and productive mobile experience around your brand?

This one will be tricky for some small business owners to answer, but don’t be quick to answer with a no. Even if you’re just selling stuff, you can create a mobile app that combines fun and social elements with rewards and discounts. Give this some creative thought before you dismiss the idea of a mobile app. And if you’re unsure, keep reading. Inspiration may strike before you reach the end of this post.

3. Will your business benefit from a mobile app?

This is the simplest question, but possibly the most difficult to answer. It may be tempting to reach customers at all hours, but exactly how will you benefit? You should know before embarking on this journey, so your expectations are not unrealistic. In the above example of an app with rewards and discounts, the business benefits by enticing customers to shop again and again. On the other hand, if you’re a personal trainer, your goal may be to establish yourself as an expert or to build a community around your brand. Your app may be in place simply as support for your business, so tracking ROI (Return of investment) may not be as simple, but you should still be able to define what success means for your app.

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