Small Business Growth and Mobile Applications

As of early October 2014, there were more mobile devices on the planet than people. Considering that mobile phones only date to 1973 and smartphones only date to about 2007, that’s an insanely rapid growth rate — and it’s affecting everything with your business.

Comedian Aziz Ansari has a section in his new book about how people now lead “real lives” (with their families, friends, and work obligations) and “phone lives” (with the content on their devices). Those lives aren’t the same.

For most people, this “phone life” is centered around apps. Most companies, products, services, and organizations have apps — as of July 2015, there were about 1.6 million Android apps available, and about 1.5 million in Apple’s store.

closeup of a young man using a tablet computer

At this point, we should understand a couple of different concepts:

  • Mobile technology and connectivity is pervasive
  • Many people interact with companies on mobile devices via apps
  • There’s a ton of mobile applications being published every day, so it’s hard to stand out in that environment

Let’s say you’re reading this as a small business owner or marketing manager. You know mobile is important — the three things most people never leave home without are their wallet, keys, and phone, and the only way a company can directly interact with a consumer is via the last one — but you’re not sure how exactly to stand out. There’s 1.6 million apps, for Pete’s sake! Who’s going to download yours?

Tourist using navigation app on the mobile phone

We’ll get to that answer in one second. First let’s briefly touch on how important mobile application development really is for your small business:

Customer engagement: Marketers have been looking for ‘the secret sauce’ of trying to get someone to open/read/engage with their offer for decades. At this moment, e-mail marketing is all the rage for many companies — but e-mail marketing campaigns tend to have open rates lower than 30% and click rates lower than that. It’s not exactly driving huge torrents of engagement.

The fact is, the No. 1 most engaging element of mobile is SMS, or texting. The numbers are staggering — 90 percent of phone users read a text message in the first three minutes, for example.

You could go all-in on SMS marketing, but there are some challenges around opt-in and legal issues on that side — and if you’re a brand or company, people still might disengage if you’re texting them too much.

But … you can apply the same principle that drives SMS — basically the notion of push and pull, which also drives how most people answer e-mails — and use it with push notifications from your app. Users opt in, and you send them interesting, value-add ideas once a week or so (don’t overdo it). When you send that offer or idea to them, it’s right there in front of them, in their pocket. The engagement is immediate. You won’t get 100% open, no — but you’ll do a lot better than an e-mail campaign or other avenues in traditional marketing, plus you can use segmented groups organized by location, purchase history and a million other pieces of information you will have at your fingertips, thanks to your app.

Search button on virtual screen pressed with finger

Mobile search volume: In May 2015, Google searches on mobile surpassed those on desktop. That’s massive news. Google is the leading source of search engine traffic and, in reality, the leading way most people try to access new information. Now, for the first time, most of that is coming from mobile. Imagine a potential customer Googling something related to your business (“widgets Fort Worth,” for example). If the results are leading them to you, and your app is available right there, and the app promises the information the customer needs? That’s a massive advantage.  Not to mention the ability to click for a map or direct contact right from the app they are led to.

Remember this: people often claim that any sales process is based on relationships. That’s partially true, for sure. But most sales processes are rooted in information being conveyed, and having a mobile app can do that for you in the most effective way.

 

So … now what?

Hopefully you now understand these facts:

  • Mobile is a very vital part of marketing.
  • If you want to drive sales and customer engagement, you need an app.
  • To stand out, you’re going to need a strategy around that app.

But wait … we didn’t cover the last one, did we? What’s our strategy to make your app stand out? To make people find it?

Come on back to next week — and we’ll share some tips for gaining traffic to your mobile application and web presence.

 

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