What comes to mind when you hear the word “app”? Do you think of a game? Something you can’t live without? Or simply a cool gadget on your phone?
Small business owners often shut down when they hear the word “app” being pitched. They, understandably, think there is no money or time to invest in an app ⎼ especially if they don’t even have any other online presence set up yet. Small businesses might see apps as just a gimmicky addition to their marketing portfolio.
But here’s the thing: an app might actually be the one thing that can help the business significantly grow. Why? Because an app is not just a mobile application; an app is a complete mobile marketing solution. If it is executed correctly, a small business will see a significant increase in revenue and customer engagement. Ultimately, this tool won’t be an extra expense, it will save the business a lot of money. How? An app, or mobile solution, can rethink a small business’ social presence, local presence, and mobile presence, as well as turn its best customers into marketers.
Busting The Myth
We have labeled it “ReThink”. More specifically, the Rethink Strategy redefines the way you think about customer experience, customer loyalty, customer advocacy and company ranking. This strategy will also allow small business owners to understand the benefits of a mobile solution.
The first step of the Rethink Strategy is to analyse which experiences would be better facilitated through a mobile solution. In other words, how can the customer experience be improved at a particular business?
Traditionally, companies have emphasized “touchpoints”, referring to the critical moments when customers interact with a brand during their purchasing process. However, a shift is taking place as successful companies focus on the customer journey in its entirety. According to Harvard Business Review’s research, “organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction”. A mobile solution allows any business to move away from mere touch points and start addressing this customer journey as a whole.
For instance, a local restaurant might implement mobile food ordering. Customers now have the option to place an order with the tap of a button through an app. This translates into not having to wait in line, not having to make a phone call, and not needing to go through the hassle of paying at the establishment. As a result, the patrons are provided with a more pleasurable and convenient experience at the restaurant. So, instead of merely improving the “sales touchpoint” at the cash register, the small business is able to improve the entire encounter starting with the purchase process.
An improved customer experience, then, builds loyalty. The better the experience at the establishment, the more likely people are to return. And the way a small business deals with loyalty can also be rethought with a mobile solution.
Every business, whether a mom-and-pop shop or a global company, relies on loyal customers for success. Loyal customers account for 20% of a company’s customers. While that might not seem impressive at first glance, that 20% drives 80% of a business’s total revenue and 72% of total visits to the establishment. This data clearly shows that it is more profitable for businesses to go after customer retention than customer acquisition – however, many do the exact opposite. In fact, it costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.
For example, a salon can implement a mobile stamp card, rewarding customers with a free haircut when it’s complete. For the customer, this means no longer losing a physical punch card and carrying around 20 different rewards cards. Customers now feel that every purchase they make amounts to something bigger. This, again, contributes to a positive customer journey. As a result, rethinking (or implementing) the mobile loyalty strategy can increase repeat business.
Now that a loyal following has been built, a small business should empower their customers to spread the word. Through an app, customers can easily be prompted to share their opinion on social media, produce online reviews or send a referral.
We all know that people love to talk about things they love (and hate). So if they are a loyal and happy customer, it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to share their thoughts with others. Think of traditional word-of-mouth, as a happy customers tells two people about their experience, and those two people each tell another two people. According to Entrepreneur, word-of-mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. A mobile solution can help in doing so – by rethinking experience (as was mentioned above). In addition, Nielsen states that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising – 10 times more effective to be exact. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing, then, is the most powerful form of advertising a small business can have, as each happy customer can steer dozens of new ones their way.
A gym might send out a push notification to its members, for example, asking them to rate the establishment. Members who frequently go to that gym will be encouraged to leave a positive review or share on social media. Now potential customers will come across these reviews when researching gyms online, making a strong case for the small business.
This stronger online presence will lead to the final stage of the ReThink Strategy, namely Reach. More reviews allow you to rank higher on directory websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato, making sure local businesses are found.
Reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so small business should make acquiring them a priority. Businesses who want to appear in Google’s local 3-pack need to have a high volume of good reviews. A better online ranking will increase exposure and bring in new customers who, in turn, can become advocates for the business.
Imagine you are in the mood for an acai bowl (we love those here in San Diego), but you don’t know where to get one. You’ll most likely conduct an online search, perhaps by typing in “acai bowl in San Diego”. What will pop up are Google’s 3 local listings, showing the most popular places to get this snack. Below that will probably be the yelp list for “best acai bowls in San Diego”. You will most likely eat an acai bowl at one of these places, not going beyond those search results. A mobile solution will help a small business rank for these desirable positions by acquiring an abundance of reviews.
This brings the Rethink Strategy full circle, with new customers coming through (online) word-of-mouth marketing and embarking on the ReThink journey themselves. Not only does each stage of the mobile model improve the experience, it ultimately grows the entire business:
A 1-star increase on Yelp has been proven to translate to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
A 5% increase in customer retention will increase profitability by 25%.
Adopting a mobile solution can save a business an average cost of $5,000 annually.
So, we definitely busted that myth! An app is not just an app. An app can be a mobile solution that redefines the entire customer journey and brings about significant growth. A mobile solution has real tangible results, often making them an integral part of the business. The data suggests small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55%), improve customer experience (50%) and to become competitors in a specific market (50%). According to recent studies, nearly half of small businesses are expected to adopt a mobile app by 2017. The features that an app can have (e.g. mobile food ordering, reservations, loyalty programs) are more than add-ons, each of these are benefits of a complete mobile solution that can help a company save or make money. It’s time for local owners to welcome a mobile solution into their small business.
How has an app transformed your small businesses or the local businesses in your area? Share your experiences in the comments!
On your marks… get set… wait. Jumping the gun on mobile app marketing and launching is costly. Launching your app from the start line before you’re limbered up, well-trained and ready to go is a sure-fire way of ensuring your app never makes it to the podium. If you’re looking for your app to be a successful one you need to consider all the common pitfalls and ensure that you don’t fall foul of them. The reputation dent that a poor app can cause is not worth it: Mistakes cost.
Mobile apps are a rapidly growing and changing market. What worked six months ago is potentially out of date now. Amobi Apps have done the homework for you. We’ve got your training schedule in top shape so that you can avoid the common mobile app marketing mistakes, and race to the finish line knowing that success is waiting. Apps are now our favorite tools of consumerism. Whether your app is aimed at increasing shopping functionality, communications, socialization or decision-making: Getting your marketing strategy right matters.
Be a Social Media Buddy – Make Friends and Use Them
You know your business better than anyone, and hopefully you know your consumer base too. You know if you’re being viewed by a raft of geeks who love their stats or the cool kids who want to know what’s in. Your Social Media voice needs to adopt a persona to match in order to effectively market your mobile app to the right clientele.
Hopefully you’ve already got a working and productive Social Media presence that you can utilize. If not, get one going and get the word out. Social Media is going to spread info about your app so it makes sense that you’re in control of it. By utilizing your own Social Media network to promote the app in advance of its launch you can entice those who already love your brand and your business to be ready and waiting in the wings ready to hit download as soon as they can.
We all love a bargain. You can use Social Media to offer incentives. That way, when you’re ready to launch, you’ve already got a customer-base ready to jump on the bandwagon. Incentives can be anything from extra lives in games, coupons for money off, or reduced in-app purchases.
Importantly, social media is going to come into play with reviews. Social proof matters where apps are concerned. Link positive reviews back to your Social Media and you set up a wonderful perpetual cycle of app love.
Hop from Social Media to Microsite
A microsite is a web page or group of webpages that is set up with an express and specified purpose separate from your main website. An ideal mobile app marketing strategy is to promote your upcoming app using a microsite. This enables you to give more info in a user-friendly way whilst targeting the right audience. By linking this across from your Social Media campaign you achieve a holistic approach that sells.
The microsite will increase your app’s visibility in a simple, benefits-driven, way. You may include such things as a video showing the app in use, or screenshots showing the app’s functionality. Importantly, there should be a link ready and waiting to be clicked for download.
Manage Expectations – Be a Salesperson with Integrity
Seriously. It is possible to do both, and it’s in your interests. If you make wild claims about what your app can do and don’t deliver on that promise you’re going to lose out, and lose out fast. App users aren’t known for giving app manufacturers second-chances. You’ve got one shot at getting this right. So…manage expectations.
Be truthful about your app’s capabilities whilst identifying its Unique Selling Point. Highlight the benefits of your app but don’t make unrealistic claims. You will be found out, and it won’t be pretty when a flood of poor reviews is tumbling down on you. Therefore, we strongly recommend including images and screenshots of your app in your marketing. Whet the appetite and let users have an insight in to what they will get.
And don’t treat your app as a mini-desktop. A mobile website is not an app. An app is an app, use it as such and market it according to its genuine capabilities.
Get on board with a new acronym: ASO
The chances are you have a vague idea about spiders crawling the web and that Search-Engine Optimization matters. But the new kid on the block is App Store Optimization (ASO). It matters for you and your mobile app marketing approach because the vast majority of new apps are found simply by browsing an app store. You need to be up there in the top search results to maximize return on your investment.
Just because things are never simple, ASO varies from platform to platform. At the end of the day you not only need to ensure your app itself is adapted to each different platform (for example iOS or Android), but you need to ensure you’re tailored to the specific ASO of the different platforms. This involves a delicate mixture of keywords, driving and encouraging reviews, and straightforward popularity.
Downloads are Great, But Retention is Better
Don’t just aim for downloads. Although downloads are a key and driving part of the app’s success, for real long term benefit your mobile app marketing strategy needs to be geared towards retention: keeping the users you’ve got, and importantly, getting them hooked into using your app. The marketing strategy therefore needs to address the lifetime value of an app by accurate interpretation and utilization of Analytics Data to ensure the app is of ongoing value. You need to use engagement mechanisms such as push notifications, subscriptions and in-app purchases to continue to make a difference to your bottom-line beyond download.
Go for Gold – Hone Your Mobile App Marketing
By addressing each of the above issues in your mobile app marketing strategy, before the fire of the gun, you can be sure that you’ll gain your place on the podium for app success. Apps can be invaluable for driving business success and growth, but they can also flop pretty easily, so don’t let that be your one. At Amobi Apps we’re the experts so you don’t have to be. Avoiding app marketing pitfalls is second nature to us. We’re here to make your app the app to have in the most hassle-free way.
What is a push notification and how is it different from a text message? Texts and push notifications are so similar that it can be tempting to lump them together and treat them the same way. They both arrive on a user’s mobile device, they both have to fit within tight character limits, but they both have average open rates that are over 90%.
So, why would anyone argue that push notifications are better?
Well, one consideration is cost. Many users do not have unlimited texting plans and will wind up getting charged for each text message you send. This can irritate users and lead them to look at your message negatively. Or, they may opt-out of future messages altogether, which is bad for business.
The same is true on the business end as well. The cost to send out a massive amount of texts is relevant for many businesses, especially small ones, depending upon what service and platform are used to blast out messages. Push notifications, in contrast, are unlimited and totally free when you build and manage your app using Amobi Apps!
The opt-in / opt-out dynamic also favors push notifications, when it comes to user attitude. Users have total control over which apps send them notifications, and may even specify which types of notifications they want from each app. Text messages, on the other hand, often come unsolicited. In fact, due to the sale of phone number lists between companies, some users may receive spammy texts from time to time and view SMS as a lower-quality messaging channel.
Push notifications also increase engagement with your app and improve user retention rates. Thus, not only can they help drive activity on the topic of your message, they also help increase the returns you see from your app. Push notifications serve double duty and offer a number of benefits at once.
With Bizness Apps, we also enable you to send custom messages to your customers that entice them to come back into your business. For example, you can send a beautifully designed push notification message in seconds offering people 10% off their dinner within the next hour if things are slow during certain business hours.
This not only helps bring in new customers, but can help attract loyal customers back into your establishment. The return on investment here is absolutely staggering for a small business.
So what is a push notification? When a user gets a push notification, it’s a message from a company they know and want to hear from. And from a business standpoint, the cost couldn’t be lower. Considering their effectiveness and ability to address a number of goals at once, we find push notifications to be just as good as, if not better than, text messages. (Of course, there’s no reason not to employ both in your marketing strategy, but if you can use only one, we know which one we prefer.)
Snapping photos on the beach and sharing regular status updates has become the norm for communication. Whether it’s announcing your newborn baby or venting over daily frustrations, nearly every social media platform allows you to share your (digitally altered) life seamlessly.
In the business world, social media has become a go-to for brand development and customer care. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with customers and creatively market your products or services. 63% of millennials report staying up to date on brands through social media, and 46% of millennials use social media when making online purchases. Businesses are beginning to digest these statistics and leverage social media’s role in their customers’ lives. Now, 78% of companies report that they have teams dedicated solely to social media.
Though social media fits neatly into an effective marketing campaign, it can be used for much, much more than that.
While traditional support channels hide the customer behind the interaction, leaving you with just an email or phone number, social media support is a real glimpse into your customers’ lives. It can serve as a fantastic customer service tool that adds transparency and humanity your customers appreciate. Questions are often answered for all to see, leaving little room for poor, half-baked responses.
It’s also highly efficient. Tons of businesses use Twitter as a support and customer communication tool. You can educate thousands of followers with one tweet and cut down on emails, calls, and chats. This is especially useful during service outages, product releases, or anytime you expect high demand.
These channels generate valuable feedback too. Facebook and Google+ reviews offer valuable customer happiness insights and add a level of trust for prospective customers researching your business. Positive peer reviews are also more likely to land you a sale than self-marketing, so these rating features go a long way.
Increased engagement means increased customer retention. The more you can get your followers chiming in or clicking through—whether that’s with exclusive deals, helpful content, or genuine and thoughtful messaging—the better your chances of keeping them around. Try spurring discussion on your page or around a specific post by inviting your followers into the conversation. The topic doesn’t have to be your business or services, but something relevant to your industry that builds an association with your brand.
User commentary can shed real light on companies’ strengths and shortcomings. Listen to what people say and incorporate the best feedback into your business/product roadmap. Customers will appreciate their impact and likely offer more constructive criticism down the road. Plus, what better way to improve your products and generate new ideas that your target audience really wants?
The life of a product or service can also be extended by resurfacing older content. For example, if you publish a blog post about a new product, plug last month’s release too. When you re-share “old” news along with fresh content, you can revive interest and catch the eye of users who missed it the first time around (likely a lot of them, since our feeds are so oversaturated these days). And since we’re on the topic, don’t forget the role social media plays in product marketing.
Welcome to the age of online ordering. It’s more convenient and cost-effective than traveling to the store or making a phone call, especially now that the majority of online retailers have free and fast shipping options. As of 2015, 69% of adults shop online monthly and 33% weekly. If you only sell products at your location, you’re limiting your reach considerably. Online and mobile ordering removed the geographical constraints that limit your market.
So how can you leverage social media for online sales? First off, shareability. When you sell online, you can offer discounts to buyers who share a product or service with friends over social media. Groupon is a great example of this: if you get X amount of friends to buy the same deal as you, your purchase is free. Secondly, social media can be used as an independent online shop.Facebook pages can serve as online shops. Pinterest is a prime online commerce tool. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Businesses are no longer only limited to ads and word-of-mouth to find the best employees—top talent can be recruited through social media. Sites like LinkedIn let them share job openings site-wide and conduct better candidate screening. The social element adds a whole new layer to the traditional interview process. You may “connect” with a potential candidate before you ever interview them, gaining access to their network, interests, endorsed skills, and more. This modern transparency is a far cry from old school hiring.
It’s a whole new world for job-seekers too. You can apply for positions right through LinkedIn and even see how many applications have already been submitted, or check out a company’s Glassdoor reviews for a glimpse into their culture. My college newspaper has a Facebook group for its alumni staff; members are constantly sharing openings at their companies and encouraging others to apply. And on any site, users can easily share listings with friends and family who may be interested.
While making connections used to mean circling up at a conference and trading business cards, these days you can gain as much—if not more—networking value from social media. It’s never been easier to engage with other professionals and make highly personal connections that flourish and last. You can also tell a lot from a person’s profile and the content they regularly publish.
LinkedIn is obvious for this purpose, but Twitter is an incredible networking tool as well. Much like walking up to a circle of strangers and introducing yourself, you can start conversations or join active discussions by tweeting at other users. Twitter lacks the “friends-only” vibe of Facebook—its users typically welcome followers they don’t know personally, and the most active often interact daily with people they’ve never met face-to-face.
It’s easy to see what the future might hold with social media. Be your own time machine—stay up on the latest industry trends and anticipate advances to get a head start. Research what customers are saying about competing brands and let that inform your strategy. Better to learn from another company’s mistakes than make them, and better to celebrate their successes as teaching moments too. If used to its full potential, social media can drive success creatively and at little cost to businesses. So log in!