By Amy Fleming – Consider how modern consumers interact with brands. There’s no question that mobile phones have become the primary means by which we engage with information today. In fact, the average user spends over four hours ontheir phone each day. This is an increase of over 500 percent when compared to statistics from just three years ago. The majority of these users are millennials — the largest generation today at 77 million people — which gives them the greatest spending power.
Brands, both big and small, have realized that mobile apps can attract and maintain customers like no other medium. While responsive web design allows brands to offer dynamic experiences to users, mobile apps offer an unmatched level of opportunity. Increased sales, more data to support business decisions through predictive analytics, and greater public awareness of your brand are positives of creating a successful app. All you need to do is create a compelling reason for consumers to keep returning to your app, and your app can become a powerful part of your marketing toolkit.
Of course, growth is only possible if your app resonates with customers. For example, if you are the owner of a custom writing service, your app should be convenient for students. Don’t waste your or your customers’ time by creating an app that doesn’t give them a compelling reason to actually use your app; give users a reason to keep returning to your app every day.
Which specific features should you invest in? The answer to this is completely reliant on your business model and overall organizational goals, but you should consider emulating the success of effective apps on the market today by looking to implement some of the same features that they do. Some excellent features that can attract users include:
Brick-and-mortar stores have a place in the modern market — 90 percent of all sales are still conducted in person. However, having a physical storefront doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of mobile apps. Location-based technology can augment your customers’ shopping experience. Effective features in this vein include assisted navigation throughout your store, advertising (and discounts) using smart contextual beacons, and the ability to request assistance from in-store employees. You can even track user movement when they visit, enabling you to streamline the physical layout of your store.
One way to attract users is through novel applications of AR and VR. If you are a retailer, consider how AR tech can be used to give users the opportunity to get a visual representation of how specific items might look on them on or in their homes. From furniture and shades of paint to clothes and glasses, allowing consumers to see how these items look in their day-to-day lives can entice them to make a purchase. VR can also be used to allow users to take a virtual tour of your business, among many other possibilities.
When consumers are able to easily share content related to your company through your app, your brand’s voice can be amplified exponentially. Offering discounts or points towards a rewards program for users who share your app is an easy way to generate social media shares. If you want to take it to the next level, try incorporating elements like photo filters, AR/VR, or other fun features. Don’t forget to make sharing in-app content an intuitive and seamless process! Note that data related to social media buzz can be combined with a cloud-based inventory management system to give small business owners a serious competitive edge when it comes to stocking the hottest products.
For customers, features like these will justify the use of cellular data and smartphone hard drive space to keep your branded app on their phones. Customers love technology. They want to be able to look up information about your products and services, and your mobile app can fill this gap. Such apps can work as a supplement to your customer service efforts — but only if your CSRs are knowledgeable about your company’s app. Before rolling out a new app, train your employees on its uses and capabilities.
Finally, note that communication through your mobile app should be a two-way street; you need to solicit feedback through your app. This will allow your users to request specific features or report bugs — valuable information when it comes to updating your app to improve user retention.
Speak to peers or expert business owners who have previously created dedicated mobile apps. Their words of wisdom will give you a realistic timeframe, helpful advice when it comes to features, and warnings when it comes to avoiding costly mistakes in app development. They may also help you course correct when needed, in case you encounter problematic bugs or negative feedback (which is perhaps an inevitability when it comes to app development).
Clearly, a mobile app can greatly improve the growth of your new business. Once you understand the basics of app development and have defined the objectives of your brand’s app, you’ll be able to make a serious impact. Have you had any insightful experiences with app development? Share in the comments below!
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