It seems like every business around the block has an app… except you.
Despite the ubiquity of smartphones, your caution is entirely warranted. After all, just because something is trendy doesn’t make it financially feasible, does it? Are mobile apps really all they’re cracked up to be…or does the ROI not make sense?
How Many People Are Using Mobile Anyway?
You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times, they are a-changin’. — Bob Dylan
Smart phones are everywhere. Head to any city and you’ll see people on their smartphones — waiting for a bus, riding on the subway, even walking down the street playing Pokémon Go.
But you’re not thinking about the total number of users who might be using mobile apps. You’re just thinking about whether the market segment in your small business makes app development worth the cost.
Let’s start counting.
SmartInsights pointed out that the number of global users of mobile phones overtook desktop users as early as 2014, and the gap continues to widen. Now, in fact, the average adult uses over 51% of their Internet on their mobile — and that number, too, continues to grow.
What about your market segment? You might think your business is a desktop kind of business, but the simple truth is that Bob Dylan was right. The times they are a-changin’, and your business needs to keep up.
That’s true, at least, when you view the world of mobile apps from this top-down point of view. But let’s look at some ways you can weigh the risks and pitfalls of app development against its potential ROI in your particular niche.
The Case for Mobile Apps
According to Entrepreneur, “If you are a small business owner and your business does not have a mobile app, you need to get one.” Period.
Citing a Gallup survey that found the majority of Americans check their mobile phones at least every hour, Scott Shane writes that some ninety percent of this time is then spent using apps.
The case for mobile apps? If your company doesn’t have one, then you’re completely missing out on a huge — and ever-growing — segment of the population. Consider the following points in favor of mobile apps:
Apps draw attention and repeat visits. Apps are essentially an advanced way to create engaging content marketing. By giving people something that they need and use, you give them a reason to check out your company, your services, your website — and more.
Apps can cross-promote. Apps allow you to distribute coupons, engage customers, and make announcements on a platform that’s entirely yours, which means you can bypass even social media if need be.
Apps build your brand consistency. The more people use and trust your app, the more likely they are to use and trust your other services. A mobile app is often the first foot in the door for a customer who wants to see what you’re all about. Give them a good experience and they’ll be more likely to look at everything else that your business does.
But let’s say you’re perfectly cool with the concept of mobile apps and simply don’t trust the potential for ROI. Are mobile apps really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they just a waste of resources?
The Case Against Mobile Apps for Some Small Businesses
Let’s put some numbers on this. Let’s say you spend $10,000 developing a mobile app — though prices certainly vary — and that you end up generating 1,000 users for that app. In this case, your cost per user acquisition was $10.
If only 5% of those mobile users become leads in your business, you’ve spent $200 per lead. Depending on your product or service, that may be a great number. It may be far below what you expect to spend.
The point here is: you should look at mobile apps as another avenue of marketing. Put numbers on it, and find out if the mobile app would really justify its investment.
MarketingTechBlog.com put together a comprehensive list of all the ways you can measure the ROI of developing a mobile app. And even though one of the primary goals of your app may be to generate leads, there are other ways to find returns for your investment, including:
Mobile influence: does your mobile app change the behavior of users, including repeat customers?
Retention rate: how much is your mobile app keeping your existing customers from jumping ship? You may find that given how difficult it is to acquire new customers, this alone justifies the development of a mobile app.
Once you put numbers on the ROI, you’ll get a much clearer picture of what mobile apps can do for your business — but don’t forget to include all of the numbers.
Tools for Making a Mobile App Investment
If you’re not convinced a mobile app is best for your business, there’s nothing left for you to do. But if you’re interested in developing an app to get new customers, you’re likely curious about the next steps.
Here are a few recommendations for getting started:
Consult someone who has built apps for businesses like yours. Check out Biznessapps, for example, which provides app templates that make creating your own mobile app much less costly than you may have imagined. Appsme is an extremely popular tool for mobile apps that’s particularly good with small businesses. At just $50 per month, a few new customers from an app here would more than justify the cost. Another popular option: GoodBarber.
Test your app for bugs. MyCrowdQA is the service here, ensuring that you don’t lose money on your investment because your app is failing to live up to user expectations.
Once your app is created and hosted in popular app stores (a service offered by Appsme, for example), you should have no problem expanding your user base and turning a mobile app into a great investment. Like many investments, you often get out of it exactly what you put in.
Make it count, and your mobile app will reward you.