You probably have a website for your business. It’s a great, low-cost way to market your products and services. You’ve probably also considered the need for a mobile application, too. Look around; it seems like everyone is getting a smartphone. Should you jump in and build an app for your small business? Do you need a mobile presence? Mobile applications can be developed for very little money and users can download them in under a minute so the answer to both questions seems to be affirmative. But what can these little software applications really do for you? Well, that depends.
Why You Should Bother
According to Pew Research, about 35 percent of American adults owned a smartphone as of July 2011. That figure is certainly growing. It represents an opportunity for small-business owners to use technology to their advantage. Gartner Research reports that mobile applications are expected to earn providers $58 billion by 2014. That’s a pretty staggering figure, right? Can you make interacting with your customers a little easier, more convenient or even playful? Consider it if:
- Your business offers a service that could be ordered or used by customers on the go.
- New customers might be enticed to buy from your business when they interact with your mobile application.
- Your customers currently interact with you and each other using social media technology such as wikis, blogs and forums.
- You’re willing to try creating a mobile application and dedicate some staff and budget to the effort.
- You can envision new ways to make money for your business using a mobile application. For example, if you offer a global product or service, you might be able to find new customers in Asia, where mobile application use has been rapidly adopted.
To get started, check out websites such as Infinite Monkeys or BudgetAppDev. You can create a basic business application with display advertisements with the Infinite Monkeys drag and drop interface for free. It’s easy (and fun) to create your application. Video help provides guidance along the way. By specifying some basic information and uploading a background graphic, you can create an application that reinforces your brand and helps you connect. You get to choose which features and functions you want added, including photo sharing, blog feeds and videos. You can download your custom QR code and put it on your brochures, signs and marketing collateral. Users will be linked your application or the HTML5 version in the event that your customer doesn’t have an Android or iPhone. You can also view usage statistics.
If You Need Inspiration
Check out the BudgetAppDev portfolio for some excellent examples to trigger your creative flair. People love to use their mobile phone to pass the time. Can you develop a dynamite quiz related to your small business that people will play while waiting in an airport or train station? Want to package up training and support tips, tools and resources for your company that your customers can access from any location? How about a restaurant guide for the area surrounding your business as a benefit to visitors?
If any of these ideas appeal to you, you’ve already taken the first step in designing and developing a mobile application to support your small business. Now, take your idea and consult with your customers to find out what they might need.