If you own a small business and have any interest in technology or innovation—and even if you don’t—there’s a good chance that by now you’ve heard the mantra that small businesses and mobile apps are a natural match. Sounds nice. But how does mobile actually give an advantage to small and midsize businesses (SMBs)? And how can SMBs leverage the benefits of mobile to compete successfully with their larger counterparts? Here are five ways the mobile revolution has begun to level the playing field between small, midsize, and large businesses:
It’s a matter of numbers: Building and maintaining an app need not involve heavy expenses in terms of time or money. Are there businesses who invest heavily in their apps? Sure. But there are also businesses that build their own apps to attract and retain customers—in many cases, spending less than $50 a month on highly successful apps.
Those price tags put mobile apps within reach for even the smallest businesses. And with a little creative thinking and an eagerness to create an interactive user experience, small businesses can create the kinds of apps that will help them compete with their larger counterparts.
2. BOOSTING SALES
Many of today’s business apps come loaded with e-commerce capabilities, often integrating services from major online powerhouses. From mobile shopping carts to in-app coupons and loyalty cards, to services that let you order food online, today’s e-commerce features make it more convenient than ever before for users to make purchases on the go. In addition, many businesses put comprehensive menus and catalogs in their apps, letting users see exactly what foods, products, and services are offered before making a purchase. In today’s mobile world, these types of features are just as available to small businesses as to their larger competitors.
Does that mean your app could be the newest member of your business’ sales team? Absolutely—and likely your only sales rep that can make and process many sales simultaneously, anytime, anywhere. With an estimated 87% of mobile device owners saying they use their devices for shopping-related activities, there’s enormous and growing potential for a great app to function as a great salesperson. In short, for companies that need to make the most of every dollar spent, an app could be a sales game-changer.
3. INCREASING ENGAGEMENT
Which marketing strategy would you prefer for your business: expensive advertisements using traditional media (which may briefly grab a user’s attention) or an app with which your users can interact anytime, anywhere—and share with friends?
On average, smartphone users check their phones 150 times a day. If your business is on a potential customer’s phone, you have opportunities to engage with that user that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. In contrast to traditional advertising and even many websites, today’s apps often let the user take a more active role, using interactive features like social media, scheduling tools, and click-to-call. Combine that potential for user involvement with the incredible frequency with which users access their mobile devices, and you have unprecedented potential for publishers of all types to reach users—and to get users reaching them.
4. MARKETING TO A LARGER AUDIENCE
Once upon a time, effective marketing had to be expensive. If you really wanted to get your name out there—and had a budget to make it happen—the ideal tools were often ads on billboards, on the radio, on TV, and in print media. Then, the Internet came along and remade the rules of the game, and then came social media.
Now, mobile is changing the face of marketing. In the mobile age, just because your business is small or midsize doesn’t mean your potential audience needs to be. You can get your app on the marketplaces, just like your bigger competitors—and with the right app store optimization (ASO) strategy, you can maximize your chances of getting users downloading your app and engaging with your business.
5. EFFICIENT USE OF RESOURCES
It sounds obvious: If a table at your restaurant is sitting empty, your profits will not be maximized. And if your customers get annoyed by long waits for a table, that’s not good for business, either. But not all customers bother to make a reservation—and anyway, you don’t want to spend precious time and resources juggling those reservations. What to do?
To streamline the way they manage resources (including tables and appointment time slots), small businesses can let app users make reservations directly through their apps. By letting customers interact with an automatic scheduler, the business owners can focus on running a business instead of handling reservations.
It turns out that kind of solution is pretty obvious to today’s small businesses in the U.S.—which, newly released statistics show, save $67.5 billion a year by using mobile technologies.
Want to learn more about how small businesses can use mobile apps to keep up with the big dogs? Join me as I address the Market New York Expo on May 29, sharing tips for leveraging mobile to increase brand awareness, build your online community, and grow your business.