What is the key to a successful business app?

What are some of the small business pitfalls of investing in an app, and what should you consider before starting the build? Here, Joyce Ong reveals what to know.

The key to a successful business app requires an understanding of your marketing strategy, a little preparation and some commitment to making sure the app works for the business. Without any of these, your prospects, customers or social media followers will not download your app or when they do download your app, ignore or delete it soon after!

Unless you are a well known brand that will, on its own, attract users to download and use your app, you will need to invest time and energy in launching your app and consistently incorporating the app in your marketing and sales activities.

Business apps have, in recent years, become readily available and affordable to the small business and it is now certainly possible to generate a return on your marketing investment in the first year of launching your app.

However if you fancy the idea of a business app but aren’t prepared for the commitment nor have the resources to manage an app, investing in a better or updated website or other technology tools may better suit your needs for now.

If managed properly, a business app is a powerful mobile marketing tool that allows you, the business owner timely, easy to access information in the palm of your hands so that you can better engage with your tribe and give them what you know they want, so they’ll buy more from you. At same time, your tribe can access your business and interact with you or your team in ways that a website, email campaign or social media can’t.

If you are a small business, here are eight steps to mull on when embarking on an app project:

  • Mobile marketing strategy – what group of customers would you be engaging with via the app? Would your business benefit from repeat visits or purchases from your customers? If you have a mailing list of customers, followers or prospects, this will be a great opportunity to convert them into loyal, paying customers via the app.
  • Commitment – you need to commit time and resources to making the app work for your business. Set aside time for mobile marketing activities, delegate the role to a team member or outsource this if you have neither time nor help at hand.
  • Your app partner – ensure your app developers understand your business and are able to advise you not just on the app development, but also on your mobile marketing strategy and tactics to deploy.
  • Pre-launch – ensure your frontline staff are made aware of and motivated to use the app so they will promote it to customers. Better still, get your followers and staff involved from the beginning by asking them for feedback. Make sure all your customer-facing communication, whether face-to-face, over the phone, print or digital, include the app and where possible, Google and Apple app store badges to facilitate quick downloads from the app stores. This seems obvious, but do give your customers at least one good, solid reason to download your app.
  • Post-launch – this is the beginning of a more purposeful, interactive relationship with your followers/customers. Your key task from now is to ensure your app users engage with you via the app, and ultimately refer, visit or buy from you. Scheduling regular, timed and/or location specific push notifications with new offers, news updates, regularly refreshing your app content, reviewing your loyalty programmes, regularly creating new offers would ensure you are off to a fantastic start.

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Be creative and test! For example, you may wish to tie in your offers with local/national events or your own events. You’ll soon find out what your customers want or like so you can tweak your messages as you go along.

  • Review, review, review – key metrics can include the number of app downloads, location of downloads, most popular app features, session times, loyalty points claimed, purchases made, in-app forms submitted or the number of Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor or Facebook reviews generated etc. This will help determine the sort of content, features or offers your app users want to be engaged with. Or not.
  • Update your technology – as a business owner you’ll want to be kept abreast of any relevant, affordable technology available on the market and how you and ultimately, your users, can access it.

You may wish to work with your app provider every 6-12 months to review and upgrade your business app, integrate new software which will enhance the customer journey.

  • Generating a return – depending on your strategy, this may or may not be your reason for a business app. However with mobile payments, push notifications, in-app loyalty programmes and automating your customer reviews via the app, it is now certainly an achievable target for a small business.

Doing all of the above will help ensure your business app will be a successful brand enhancing investment, not just a mere marketing expense.

Joyce Ong is founder of Marketing Tech

Further reading on business apps

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

Small Business Apps

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