Small businesses all over have heard of mobile marketing, and know that their customers spend a tremendous amount of time on mobile; they’re eager to figure out how to get on mobile with them.

But the fact that there are so many possibilities with mobile apps (the Apple App Store had 700,000 apps as of October 20121) makes it confusing to know what you should do for your business (and more importantly, what you shouldn’t do so that you don’t waste your time).

Power Apps that Work has found that 5 key features help businesses use their custom mobile apps to get more quality, loyalty-building time in front of customers.  Here’s how we implemented these features for our customers:

What exactly can a custom mobile app do for my business?

1. Make communication easy between you and your customers.

Everyone hates having to look up a phone number in the Yellow Pages…and even with using Google, it’s still cumbersome to try to hunt down a business’ phone number.

And what if a customer has something nice to say about your business?  What if they want to complain?  Sure, they could go to a review website and praise you (or worse, complain about you publicly!)…but do you really want to make the only way you receive feedback something that’s entirely out of your control?

Small business custom mobile apps help shift the paradigm of business-customer communications.

Excellent apps make it easy for customers to keep in touch with you…if they want to call, all they need to do is go to your app and click on the “Call Us” button.  If they have something they want to share, all they need to do is type their feedback in your app’s comment box.

For example, our mobile app for Yung’s Chinese Takeout in Ft. Collins includes the ability for customers to easily look up their phone number, and to easily send messages:

Ft. Collins CO small business custom mobile app

Location and contact information.

Ft. Collins CO small business custom mobile app

Comment system that allows customers to message the business.

2. Increase customer loyalty through vouchers, coupons and loyalty programs.

Businesses want an easy way to incentivize customer loyalty and to “pull” customers back into their stores.  But traditional customer loyalty methods are difficult to maintain: mailing coupons is expensive, and discount punch cards get lost and forgotten about.

Small business custom mobile apps jettison the need for the traditional cumbersome and ineffective loyalty programs.

With a mobile app, businesses can send coupons and other vouchers directly to customers on their smartphones.  Discount cards (“come 5 times and get your 6th purchase for free”) are as easy as opening up the app and marking a visit (the mobile app uses location information to ensure that the customer is actually, in fact, present in the store!).

Even better, the mobile app uses a push notification (discussed below) to tell customers when new coupons or vouchers are issued, even if they’re not actually using the app!

For example, our app for Yung’s includes a loyalty punchcard system where visitors can get freebies after 5 visits; and our app for Recycled Cycles included a punch-card system as well.

Fort Collins CO custom mobile app small business

Loyalty punch card (Yung’s).

Fort Collins CO custom mobile app small business

Loyalty punch-card (Recycled Cycles).

 

3. Provide key information to customers quickly.

In the past, businesses had no way to share key information with customers unless the customers were in the business’ store (or through an expensive mailing campaign).  For example, restaurants had to mail menus, and stores had to mail advertisements that included new inventory.

And even though modern times have allowed businesses to post these things onto their website, it’s still too passive; businesses have to hope that people will come to their site to see updates.

With custom mobile apps, sharing information has become a cinch.

Businesses can use their custom mobile app to put key information directly at a customer’s finger tips.

Restaurants can effortlessly load and change menus;

stores can load in their multiple locations, and map towards the one that is closest to them;

and inventory can be loaded so that customers can shop any time.

And that’s not it…

A whole new level of “specialty information” can be loaded that helps customers make purchasing decisions (such as a loan calculator). Features like these build trust with customers and make it easier for them to see how purchasing your products will help them.

For example, our mobile app for Raintree Athletic Club provides workout schedules; and our mobile app for Co’s BMW includes a loan calculator.

Fort Collins CO custom mobile app small business

Raintree athletic club workout schedule.

Fort Collins CO custom mobile app small business

Co’s BMW loan calculator.

 

4. Push notifications.

Many advertising and marketing methods are too passive: in other words, the customer has to go look for information in order to find it.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could automatically share key information with customers, even when they weren’t looking for it?

Mobile apps include functionality that allow you to actively engage with your customers: push notifications.

Push notifications allow you to send messages to your customers even when they aren’t using your app; in other words, your announcement pops up directly on their smartphone (please see here for more details on push notifications).

Push notifications give you an arsenal of opportunities to engage with your customers, such as:

  • Telling them when a cool event is coming up.
  • Letting them know about a new coupon.
  • Announcing new inventory.
  • And more!  (The possibilities are essentially unlimited)

For example, Ft. Collins-based Island Grill uses push notifications to announce special events to their customers.

Fort Collins CO custom mobile app small business

Island Grill push notification.

5. Conducting business through the app (monetizing the app).

A constant theme of this article has been that custom mobile apps increase the number of ways in which your customers can interact with your business.  But one type of interaction we haven’t touched on yet is arguably the most important: making business transactions.

Mobile apps are more than a marketing piece; they can be monetizes and directly add to the bottom line.

For example, our app for Yung’s allows customers to order food through their smartphone.

Fort Collins CO custom mobile app small business

Checkout screen on our app for Yung’s

Let us help you put a custom mobile app to work for your business

We’ve helped our customers reach their mobile goals and make money from their mobile apps.  If you would like us to do the same for you, please get in touch with us here, or give us a call at 970-818-1764.   We’d love to be of service!

 

Sources:

[1]: http://www.complex.com/tech/2012/10/google-play-store-now-has-as-many-apps-as-apple-app-store

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