Introduction: The Mobile Revolution
Smartphones have taken over with nearly 70% of the population now having one and it is growing rapidly. This is a much higher percentage among the younger demographic age groups under 50. The use of mobile apps is now an integral part of consumers’ everyday lives. So the question is should your business have an app and what can an app do to help you connect with customers and ultimately increase the business you do with them. This manual is a short guide to help you understand the nature of mobile apps and appraise whether this can become a powerful marketing tool for your business.
What is a Mobile App?
The term app is short for ‘application software’. In principle it is an application that lies on your phone or tablet interface and provides you with a service. Since May 2012 ComScore have reported that more mobile subscribers used apps than browsed the web on devices. Mobile apps are often seen as more convenient for consumers to access as no web address is needed and they can be opened by the press of a button.
Difference between a Mobile App and Mobile Website?
Mobile apps are not a substitute for websites nor are mobile websites a substitute for apps. They both offer different capabilities and also can be a huge support to each other. However, a good mobile app system will allow your website to be integrated into it and this can be a powerful way of getting your webstore at people’s fingertips.
Informational v functionality: Websites are typically information sources particularly for off line businesses. However, apps are more engagement and incentive tools for existing customers to do business with you more often. A loyal customer may not have a need to visit your website as it is familiar with your business but may find the functionality of your app very useful and rewarding as a customer. See functionality features available on app.
Higher usage rates: A mobile app lies on the interface of your mobile phone or tablet and can be opened with the push of a button while a website is something consumers have to search their browsers to retrieve. Usage rates of apps are much higher and your business is far closer to your customer than a website.
Two-way communication: This is one of the key differences mobile apps have over websites. A Mobile app forms a digital connection between user and the business so that both parties can communicate with each other. For example, when a person has your mobile app on their phone or tablet you can send them free messages at any time informing them of your latest promotion, news, or feature. A website is a one-way communication tool and something consumers must feel a need to visit to find out what you have to say.
Off line and online integration: For businesses primarily off line apps provide greater opportunity to support offline business through a digital channel with more dynamic functionality that can be delivered to people’s phones. Loyalty cards, vouchers, event guides and much more are some of the dynamic features users can carry on their phones allowing them to engage with your off line business.
What do I need to consider if a mobile app would work for my business?
Audience Lets face it no matter what business you have your target market are using apps and this is growing at a rapid pace. Your marketing plans should have some correlation with your target’s consumption patterns and if your audience are spending more of their time or transacting more through apps you need to make them part of your consideration.
What are the big players doing? For the SME sector it’s always a struggle competing against the big boys. Trying to close that gap in resources and knowledge as much as you can. Well the truth is that most of the big players in all industries are now using apps whether for promotion, loyalty or transaction. They are seeing the value of having their business at the fingertips of consumers and of making a strong app connection.
Cost: While large business can throw big budgets at mobile apps it is important for the SME sector to look for cost effective solutions that add real value and ROI.
Type of business The type of business can determine the extent an app can add value. A local restaurant that can run a loyalty program and have its menu or table booking at one’s fingertips it can add real value but maybe not so good for the local accountant. It’s up to each business to decide the value they can add for their sector.
What can you offer of value? There’s no point having an app without a reason people are going to download it. Apps are different to website and should serve a different function. They are there to serve mostly your existing customers so there needs to be a reason for them to have it. Is it a loyalty program, voucher offers, event guide, booking facility or fingertip information? You know your business and your customers so what adds value to them?
Engagement: An app is an opportunity to make a unique connection with consumers unlike many other digital platforms. You can now communicate with them at the drop of hat and engage them like never before. Different businesses have different levels of involvement with their customers and while this can affect app take up a good app can also improve the level of engagement.
Loyalty: There is a huge opportunity within an app to build and encourage loyalty over rivals through loyalty stamp cards, vouchers incentives, or the many engagement tools possible.App based loyalty programs are proving far more effective than card based programs.
What benefits does a mobile app offer over other marketing platforms?
Instant communication: Very few marketing platforms allow you to engage at any time with your customers and at no cost through phone messaging.
Content delivery: You can deliver content to customer’s phones at will to encourage them to transact with your business. Such as vouchers, invites, special offers.
Marketing cost effectiveness: Building an substantial app user base can be an incredibly cost efficient way of getting your marketing messages out and engaging your audience.
Reach and effectiveness: Mobile apps offer unparalleled reach and effectiveness in communicating with your customers. If you are to consider that only 5-10% of Facebook followers now see your posts having the ability to communicate to all your app users straight to their phones puts it into perspective the efficiency possible.
Are Mobile Apps for existing or new customers?
For must businesses existing and loyal customers are the bedrock of their business. Mobile apps are a powerful way of keeping in touch with your customers, keeping your business top of mind, and increasing the rate at which they do business with you.However, there is growing evidence that apps are now proving to be a great medium for attracting new customers. Putting key benefits and features into your app can attract people to your business. One fantastic way of achieving this is promoting key app features across other platforms like social media, email etc. People who never did business with you before could now decide to do so because of the benefits your app is offering. Also, building the reputation of your app can increase word of mouth about your business as people are recommending what your app has to offer to others.
How do I achieve ROI compared with other marketing tools?
Measuring marketing ROI has always been notoriously difficult across all media but mobile apps can be a transparent means of measuring ROI as full analytics are available on how users are interacting with it.
ROI Analysis on mobile apps can be looked at in 2 ways:
Increased business: How has the app increased the level in which my customers do business with me. Has the frequency of their visits picked up or has their spend increased.
Save on marketing: The ability you have to communicate for free with your app users can drastically reduce marketing costs over time. With such an efficient no cost medium available for getting your message out other more inefficient medium can be cut back.
Key ROI & Engagement Analysis
App marketing is not just transparent and can happen in real time but it outperforms all other mediums for engagement and sales.
- Research shows that when consumers have your app on their phones and are incentivized to use it they are twice as likely to chose your business over a rival. It is now very evident that consumers are favourably predisposed towards the businesses that interact positively with them through apps.
- App adoption depends on customers base size but acceptance has been very high across all retail with the correct incentive and engagement. If there is something in it for your customer they will download in large numbers.
- 85% of app users engage with the app in a month.
- 50% of app users use the loyalty card per month.
- 10% redemption rate on vouchers.
Using Mobile Apps successfully
While having a mobile app offers great opportunity how this marketing tool is used can often determine the level of success. By having a mobile app you now have your business at your customers fingertips and a free line of communication with them. It is now up to you to make use of that by giving them content and benefits that reinforces your relationship with them.
Examples of good use of Mobile apps.
Depending on the type of business different app features can deliver different benefits to the user. As a business you must think of different ways of making your app useful and you easier to do business with.
Vouchers: These can be a powerful tool in upselling or enticing consumers in real time to your outlet. One of our clients uses supplier-sponsored vouchers to upsell. This works incredibly well in increasing the average spend while maintaining margin. This has become a regular feature of the app and has helped greatly in building the reputation of it.
- Events Guides: Announce events through messaging and having your event guide at people’s fingertips. The ability to not only have your event guide at your customers fingertips but the ability to announce events to them as they come on stream is an incredibly powerful and cost effective tool.
- Loyalty Cards: Phone based cards are proving far more effective than paper based ones. Not only can these be used for loyalty but why not promotion. One of our clients used the card to fill and win a holiday.
- Webstore: Incorporate your webstore into your app so it is now at your customers’ fingertips giving you a distinct advantage over rivals. Use the messaging service to update on offers that can be purchased now.
- Online booking: Whether you are a restaurant or an event have your booking at people’s fingertips gives you a huge advantage. Remind people to make that order every Friday night.
- Data Collection: Why not use your app to build your mailing list or gather information about your clients. Running a competition can be a good way of achieving this.
How do I get people to download my app?
Getting someone to download your app should be seen as forming a relationship far more effective than any other digital platform. It is important to ensure the company has a system in place to inform its customers of the app benefits.
- On Premise Visibility: Promote your app in store through posters, table cards, staff t-shirts, QR codes.
- Staff: Make sure your staff encourage your customers to download it.
- Download incentive: What works great is to have some little incentive to download it. Whether this is the loyalty card, a voucher for a free drink, or your great catalogue you should offer something of benefit to people.
- Promote on other mediums: Promote your app on Facebook, twitter, or any other kind of marketing you do. Make your app the center of efforts as this is the best marketing connection you can make.
- Website: Make sure your app is prominent on your website when people visit.
- Promote key features: When promoting don’t just tell people you have an app but promote key features in it that will benefit them.
- Build a Reputation: By constantly having great content in your app your app will build a reputation for being something everyone should have. Apps that provide great content build by word of mouth.