Technology has greatly influenced our society and lifestyles over the last decade. Businesses have also adapted to the ever-changing technology. We all remember the dawn of websites when the businesses were faced with the dilemma of having a website or not- eventually it turned out websites became essential for the businesses. Nowadays, every business needs a website and the ones which have not got a website, find themselves having less visibility than the others. Websites became part of the business brand identity and a quintessential tool in their promotions. The story for having a website for your business is going to repeat itself, just this time with an App. Yes a phone App.
So why should businesses have an App? The foremost thing to consider is that there’s an all-time increase in the smart phone users, they literally range into millions of users from different walks of life, age groups, social and demographic backgrounds etc. There is a whole generation of users who are now more tech savvy and use their smart phones in everyday activities e.g. booking tickets, social interactions, cinema viewings, grocery ordering, reviewing and rating services, using maps and finding directions etc. This all leads to a great opportunity for your business to become accessible to the mass audience, where you can market your products proactively to your existing customers as well as attracting new customers.
Secondly, in the Google and Groupon’s age the brand loyalty is diminishing, people are going for the better deals, so there is a great need of customer touch points to maintain a constant and positive engagement with customers. Smart phone Apps offer a host of facilities to achieve better relationships with your customers. For instance, a notification facility can help you to be in touch with your customers more frequently, and due to automation available, it can be done conveniently without hassle. You can send birthday, seasonal, and Christmas greetings to them automatically, along with your offers that can be broadcasted straight to your customer’s phones. This can be done very cost effectively, usually without any charge -unlike the SMS messaging for marketing interactions where you have to pay for each text message. All this leads to strengthening your brand and increasing your market share. Apps also have the visibility to reach the customers wherever they are, due to the portable and personal nature of mobiles. And most of the messages sent to the phones get read as compared to other forms of communications. The marketing done via smart phones is highly measureable and can provide valuable insights into choices, preferences and interests of your customers, allowing you to serve them better and in accordance with their wishes.
While you are designing an app for your business you should keep in mind that the apps should have a value for your customers, e.g. they should be able to get in touch with your more easily, book their appointments through their app, find directions to your business etc. As an added advantage for the customers, you can provide the functionality where they can receive special offers or get notification when you upload new blog, videos or services. All these aspects should help you to open a new channel for your business to connect to your customers through your app. It should effectively be a further extension of your brand and should integrate with your current website with same look and feel.
So if you have got the iPhone App developed and launched it on the App store or the App market, the next pivotal question is how to market it. Marketing your app is pretty much same as marketing any new product or services for your business. You should include your App’s information on every touch point you have with your customers, e.g. your website should display the App button from where your customers are re-directed to the relevant place to download the App. Spend some time in carefully thinking how your customers would search for it, what words would they use to find your business. You can use different key words (called meta tags) to make your App more ‘findable’. You can use Google keywords and social media (such as Facebook, twitter, Google+ etc.) to promote your App and of course the word of mouth always helps in raising the awareness for your App.
Finally your business should consider developing an App for your business as a strategic investment- rather than an expense – for your business, because just like the website you would have for your business, your app is likely to generate you revenues. As a business you would be well advised to check the availability of your business name on the App Store and the App market and get an App out there as soon as possible, even a basic one, in order to register and safeguard the App name reflecting your business. Since there can only be one app with a particular name, if another business registers the name you cannot get it (like the early days of websites, once a .com or .co.uk domain for your business name is gone, its gone, and it becomes a problem since by trying to choose an alternative name, rest of your marketing would be out of sync and inconsistent with your app name- which people are most likely to search for on the App store and the Internet).
We are living in exciting times. The pervasive and constant connection to each other and the world at large- through anytime, anywhere, any device availability of information means that the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ applies more than ever. If you are out of your customer’s thoughts, you may be losing grounds to the competitor who is trying their best to get in front of your customers, at the very least, with the fast changing information constantly presented to the customers, it would be helpful for you to occasionally pop up in front of them – with your special offers- to keep the relationship going strong.