For businesses, mobile apps have come to assume an importance that would have been barely imaginable even five years ago. The time spent by users across the world in interacting with apps- estimated at 1.6 trillion hours in 2016- is expected to increase by over 100 percent to 3.5 trillion hours by 2021-equivalent of 399.5 Million years. To put that in perspective, it is estimated that the first dinosaurs appeared on this planet around 240 million years ago.
Given its rising importance, it naturally means that a website alone is not enough for online promotion. An app is an equally important shaft in the armoury to engage with customers, especially for smaller businesses with limited marketing budgets. The following factors should be kept in mind while designing the app:
- User friendliness: The lower the number of clicks involved in effecting a purchase, the greater the success rate, therefore design simplicity is indispensable. Also, care should be taken to ensure that ads, if any, do not clutter the screen.
- Social Media Linkages: An app that allows users to create an account using the social media account presents a win-win situation. From the customers’ perspective, it makes for a simplified experience. For the business, customers can act as brand ambassadors by using the hashtag on social media platforms.
- Interactive Experience: Small businesses can increase customer engagement by allowing app users to give their feedback and replying to it. Also, through social media integration, the app can be used to collect information on emerging trends in customer preferences.
- Push Notifications: One easy way to engage with customers on a real-time basis is through the use of push notifications. For instance, a business introducing a new product line or a new service can create interest by notifying its app users in advance.
- Security: The app needs to be secure, especially if customers are going to use it to make online payments.
- Search Function: Users normal prefer apps that offer a search function. The function should ideally be prominently visible and easy to use. Also, where the app has plenty of content, it would be advisable to integrate filters in the search feature.
- Data Analytics: The business owner can invest in a system to analyse data produced by the app, such as products or features which are most popular. The insights can provide the information needed for taking strategic decisions.
Owners of small businesses which cannot afford the services of a professional can consider either of two options. Option one would be to use one of the many app development platforms available online. Alternatively, the owner can go for mobile app development training and use the knowledge gained to develop an in-house app.
From a long-term perspective, developing an in-house app would be a better option, since the owner will have complete control over the contents of the app, apart from having the flexibility to make additions or modifications when needed. Fortunately, this option does not require a huge investment in terms of time or money.