It is no secret that mobile applications have changed everyday life. People do business, set family reminders, deposit checks, track workouts and spend hours and hours of leisure time in mobile app platforms. Mobile software developer Flurry reported more than a trillion unique app events in November – a number simply unheard of even two years ago. Some food for thought: in January of 2011, around 100 billion mobile applications existed. At this writing, that number has just passed the 1,000 billion mark. Is it time for your business to have a mobile app?
Consumers spend more time with mobile apps than they do watching television. Flurry reports that mobile apps are quickly closing in on Web browsing, which has stayed stable over the past year at an average of 168 minutes per day per consumer, while mobile applications rose from 94 to 127 minutes. Television watching has stayed steady at between 70 to 72 minutes per day for the past three years.
It makes sense, really. There are 6 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, according to mobiTHINKING. Smartphones and tablets have made it possible to be connected at all times and mobile apps mean bypassing laptops and desktops completely to get needed information. The novelty of mobile apps has worn off; they are now an integral, normal part of everyday life.
So what does all this mean, really? People are increasingly trading in the convenience of Web browsing for the heightened level of convenience that mobile apps provide. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, this represents a shift that could prove devastating to marketing tactics in the coming years. It seems that just as small businesses have begun to master the art of social media efforts, like professional Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, the best way to reach customers is changing again.
Does your business need a mobile app? If you are automatically shaking your head no, then you might want to think again. Sure, mobile app development is not as inexpensive as signing up for a Facebook page, but what revenue are you missing out on by not providing this service to your customer base?
The first thing you need to realize is that mobile apps are not just for big business; there are plenty of resources for small businesses in do-it-yourself development. There are some that focus on usability and others that focus on the best design for mobile applications. In general, business owners pay a monthly fee for a company to host their apps. Some that are specifically in place for small-to-midsized companies include:
The next thing to consider when it comes to mobile app development is what you hope to accomplish. On the most basic level, you want to increase brand presence and revenue. But what else are you trying to give to your customers? Are there parts of your business that lend themselves to a mobile platform? One of the best ways to determine your app goals is by downloading and trying out those created by other companies in your industry – especially your direct competitors. Get an idea of what services these other businesses are providing to people in your target market, and in what areas they are lacking. You do not want to have the same exact app, but you also do not want to reinvent the wheel if you can avoid it. Take the best of their ideas and infuse your app with your own. Finally, you want to market your mobile application. The easiest way to do this is through a mobile marketing agency.
If you have never thought of your business as a good candidate for a mobile app, now is the time to change your thinking. Based on the statistics cited at the beginning of this post, the number of available mobile applications have increased ten-fold in just two short years. Waiting even one more to consider your own mobile options could mean a loss in revenue greater than your small business can afford.