We all know that apps are here to stay. For search, entertainment, comparison and purchase, apps are already a big part of our daily mobile life. Australians download an average of 34 apps to their phones*, yet many SMEs have been slow to appreciate their value.
We talk to these businesses every day and some common fears are apparent. Here are a few of them, and some fear-busting rationales to explain why SMEs and apps can make a perfect match.
1. But we have a mobile-enabled website, isn’t that enough?
Mobile-enabled websites have their benefits – they certainly make content more accessible. Many companies feel that as long as they have a mobile-enabled website, they have mobile users covered. But in today’s digital-savvy world this isn’t good enough. Customers expect an optimum user experience every time and on every device, or they might move to your competitor’s app.
The big advantage of an app is the accessibility factor. Mobile-enabled websites are okay, but they require additional customer effort to search and access your website. An app has the advantage of being ever accessible from the customer’s menu screen. You can send out unlimited, free alerts – not possible on a mobile website. Your brand is in customers’ hands 24/7. You can be top-of-mind in your category, and your product always available.
2. Our business doesn’t have the money to get a big fancy app developed
Usually the top objection when it comes to the question of ‘to app or not to app’. Depending on your app developer, costs can easily climb north of $30,000 or more. No wonder accountants break out in a sweat when the topic of an app comes up!
But the good news is with the proliferation of mobile apps comes a bevy of app developers who understand that not every business is willing or able to spend thousands on a mobile app – which may only work on iPhones.
When you research developers for an app, look for those offering as much user-customisation as possible. This saves time and effort for the developers (who have already done this hard work), and thus slashes the cost of the development process.
3. We don’t have the resources to upload app content every day
Many businesses view apps as a hassle because they’re seen as just another medium requiring constant time and resources.
They fail to understand that as long as you work with a reputable app company, your new app can simply ‘pull’ content from your website, meaning there won’t be any duplicated effort, i.e. uploading new stock to websites for real estate agents.
Smart developers have created tools which automatically populate your app with information, social media links, contact details, maps, etc.
Your website’s data feeds can be programmed in so that app content is automatically updated in real-time. This also applies to any appointment functions, directories or ordering systems. In short, an app shouldn’t require much love from your busy staff.
4. How will an app offer value to my customers?
Businesses often question the usefulness of an app, especially if they feel their brand cannot be translated into an interactive and engaging product for their audience. Take a car dealer who thinks, ‘All my enquiries come from car websites or people driving past, how would an app help my business?’
Apps offer fantastic opportunities for car dealers such as free push alerts to let customers know about upcoming promotions, new models in stock, awards, etc; displaying features right next to the cars in the showroom, one-click function for service bookings, directions and loan calculators. These things all give customers extra convenience whilst delivering extra stickiness for the dealer’s brand.
To see how an app could add value, list the current processes or services you provide, and then think about how to simplify these into app features benefiting customers on the go.
5. I don’t understand digital technology or how apps work
When managers are told they should investigate ‘apps’ they start firing off concerns apps are too complicated for them, or they don’t have time to learn the technicalities.
It may seem as though businesses are leaping enthusiastically into the digital sphere, but in reality many are paralysed by technophobia. Fortunately, you don’t need any technical understanding to implement an app – that’s what developers are for.
Ask around; find an app developer who understands your industry and your needs. They should walk you through every step; show you examples of app features and how they can specifically benefit your business; and provide ongoing support once the app is live.
In today’s competitive marketplace, NOT having an app can make a statement to customers about your business’ lack of innovation. So if you’re a technophobic small business CEO – get over it – and embrace the huge benefits apps can deliver!
*Source: Google: Our Mobile Planet
Dennis Benjamin is the CEO of mobile development company AppsWiz.
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