When we first started our business a decade ago, we were talking with businesses strictly about website development. In those days, we were constantly asked the question of "Why would my business need a website?" Think about how naive that sounds in today's business world. Virtually every business on earth has a website, even if it's one that needs to be rebuild- and rightfully so! A few years later, it was "mobile friendly" websites and we faced similar questions: "Why would anyone go to my website on their phone instead of their computer?" Now it's common knowledge that 60% or more of all online traffic is from mobile devices.
Just as we had to explain why websites were important, and then why mobile-friendly websites were important- in 5 years, the same scenario will be true for mobile applications. The question is simple:
Do you want your business to be on the cutting edge or the bleeding edge of technology?
The earliest adapters of web technology are still collecting the benefits. Their search engine optimization is likely far more organically developed than their competitors (unless their competitors have spent serious money on SEO), the traffic that their site generates is higher than the newer sites, etc. The same is true for mobile applications. Similar to online technologies, the development cost and utitlies to be able to manage your app have also come leaps and bounds since their original inception. What used to cost tens of thousands of dollars is now far more affordable. The technology that used to require a programmer to manage is now easily managed by anyone in the marketing department.
If I have a mobile-friendly website, why do I need an app? What's the difference?
Excellent question- and one that we get a lot. There are a few key distinctions between the two that are vital to understand.
Transfer of Information:
A mobile-friendly website is not only nice to have, it's imperative to have. Just like a native mobile application, a nicely developed mobile-friendly site will be able to tell your customers anything you want them to know! The difference is that the customer must go seek out that information in order to learn it, whereas if a customer has your mobile application installed on their phone- you can push the information directly to the phone that they are inevitably carrying 24/7.
If your business is hosting an event, planning a large sale, adding a menu item, or anything else you'd like to announce- how do you do it? With your mobile friendly site, your customer has to know to go to your site and look for information that they don't even know exists. Alternatively, you can spend thousands of dollars on Social Media Advertising and hope that your customers click on your ad. However with a mobile application- you can push the information directly to their mobile device and tell about the good news! When they open the alert, you can automatically direct them anywhere you'd like them to go (turn-by-turn directions, a flyer about the sale, a web page on your site, etc.).
Without a doubt, this is the Number 1 advantage of an app over a mobile-friendly site.
Utilization of Hardware and Software:
When a customer downloads your application to their iOS or Android device, you have access to several existing aspects of the phone natively. For instance, their camera can capture images your marketing department would like to share as they submit them to you. Alternatively, that same camera can be a QR scanner and can automatically pick up the QR codes that you use to streamline your operations or marketing initiatives.
We can also use the location of the phone, which is a fantastic feature in making your business easier to find for your customers. From turn-by-turn directions to geo-fenced push notifications, having access to their location is a great way to put your customers in your business on a regular basis.
Feature Rich Capabilities:
Among the most attractive features of our mobile applications is the ability to send out push notifications based on geofencing. Bascially, this means that you can set a pre-determined area where you would like to send your customers a pre-written message or link. How is this useful? Well, in an effort to protect the privacy of how many of our clients are using this functionality in their sites, we'll offer up some "hypothetical" uses for geofencing...
Our Apps have the ability to provide completely customized solutions for your business. We have the ability to provide a true business solution to you via your mobile application that is unique to your business. Many times there are common needs that businesses within an industry, and we can provide both insight as to how other companies have solved these issues as well as the functionality within your app to solve that problem for you.
Some of our standard solutions include:
- Push Notifications
- Real Estate Listings
- Mortgage Calculator
- Music Player
- Directions via GPS (Maps)
- QR Scanner
- Food ordering
- Table or Time-Slot Reservations
- Event Registration
- E-Commerce (sell goods via your app)
- "Call Us" via Phone
- Sync Social Media channels such as YouTube and Instagram
The Bottom Line:
Studies have shown that your marketing dollars are 7x better spent on existing customers than on new customer acquisition. Think about that for a moment... For every $1 you spend on getting your current customers back into your business, it takes $7 of spend to attract a new customer into your business. With a mobile application, you can utilize all sorts of features to keep your customers engaged with your business on a recurring basis.