You’ve likely heard this time-tested bit of business advice: go where your customers are. For many companies, “where” is increasingly the mobile space. Mobile devices are increasingly the device of choice for consumers and small-business owners, often replacing traditional desktop computers for the latter group. So, it’s no surprise that business owners are responding by creating apps that drive customer engagement.
Five reasons your small business needs a mobile app
Tips for engaging your customers through their smartphones
You might be thinking, “What would my business do with a mobile app?” The answer: a lot, even if you have just one location or you already have a website.
Apps are versatile tools that can help a wide range of industries connect with customers in different ways. “Any part of the business that can be completed on a device is a good opportunity for an app,” says Michel Fortin, Director of Communications at SEO Twist, a digital-marketing agency in Ottawa. “Not only can apps increase business dramatically, but they provide a direct channel of communication to clients, which can reduce marketing costs and help you gather valuable feedback.”
Here are several ways that apps can boost customer engagement, encourage repeat visits and improve your company’s efficiency.
1. Mobile marketing
An app can help you promote your products or services. Use it to announce new offerings, sales, discounts, promo codes, contests, events, etc., and let customers know through push notifications. Apps can also use geo-targeting to send location-based offers (for example, when a customer is near one of your stores).
Through your app, customers can make, reschedule or cancel reservations, bookings and appointments anytime. The app can automatically send confirmations and reminders, cutting down on calls and emails for your staff to handle. With just a few taps, your app could also help buyers place orders, track shipments, view their purchase history, update account information, pay invoices or download receipts.
3. Customer service and support
A mobile app helps people find your contact information, location, hours, return policy and other details easily, without a Web search. They can also get in touch through the app instead of calling or emailing. “Not only does an app provide faster, more direct customer support, but it also offers the perception of superior customer service,” says Fortin. He recommends building conversational search (i.e., being able to speak a question or search term) into your app, saving customers the time and trouble of typing.
4. Loyalty programs
If your business has a loyalty program or you want to start one, an app is a convenient and appealing way for customers to collect and redeem points (so long, plastic wallet cards!). You can also offer incentives to program members, such as bonus points, contests, birthday offers, customized coupons and early access to sales, and send reminders about them with push notifications.
5. Brand awareness
If your app is a fixture on customers’ smartphones, they’ll see its icon (your logo) frequently – keeping your company on their radar. Studies show that repeated exposure is necessary to generate new business and foster repeat business, says Fortin. “Apps expose your brand to your customers far more often than if they would have to search for it through a mobile browser,” he explains. “The same way that stickers, business cards, fridge magnets and other specialty advertising tools create top-of-mind awareness, an app reminds customers of your relationship with them and strengthens your brand.”