The Mobile App Debate for Small Businesses: To Do or Not to Do
Do small businesses really need to make a mobile app?
Times are changing, and with that shift comes a level of substantial growth for everyone competing in the business industry. It’s so important that small businesses and what they stand for don’t get swept up and lost in this tidal wave of technology our contemporary world is undergoing.
Even in the face of the big business brands, the Apples, Googles, and Amazons of the marketplace, there is still an ever-present demand for the personal customer experience only a small business enterprise can offer. Fear not – that craving of personalized attention will only grow as the bigger brands find more and more ways to automate a user journey.
There is a but, however, and that is the growing demand for mobile apps. On average, Americans spend more than ninety percent of their time on mobile devices on apps. How much time do they spend on the phone, itself? Gallup studies conclude that more than seventy-five percent of Americans check their phones at least once an hour. As of February this year, Pew Research Center reported that more than 77% of adults in the U.S. today have a smartphone. Doing a bit of quick math, and that makes out of a total of more than 220 million American adults today, a little over 185 million of those own a mobile device capable of hosting apps. Summing all of those figures up, nearly 138 million people in the United States are opening their mobile phones and apps every hour in a waking day. An insane statistic, right? As wild as it is, it’s a huge indication of the prevalence of the mobile phone every day.
At the heart of it all, these are figures that a responsible business owner simply can’t ignore. We know that change is difficult, especially when the decision to make a mobile app is by no means a small one. Nor is it something to be taken lightly. But it is one that our world-class team of strategic business experts over at Rootstrap urges you to consider.
Now, we know the perception is that the mobile app development process is expensive and extremely time-consuming. We actually broke down standard estimated costs in a separate blog post, How Much Does it Cost to Make an App. In that article, we bring up the core truth of the matter: a universal pricetag for app creation doesn’t exist, as no two apps are the same. Still, you can estimate cost averages based on what you want to build.
This is where things can get complex, and quickly. We won’t sugarcoat it – in order to go about building a quality mobile app that both attracts tons of users and helps you scale your current business, you’ll need to think about many things. What kind of platforms (iOS, Google or Blackberry) will you be building for? How much work is going to be involved in prototyping an app design? How do you even go about making an app design? How long will it take from start to finish? That’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to app development.
However, there are a few outstanding options out there for small business owners like yourselves. So you can move into the mobile app space in a timely, affordable way. Good news, huh? Apps like Appcelerator or Bizness Apps can provide a speedy solution that will require little to no development. It’s important that you do your research on which app is the right fit for you before making the decision that’s right for you.
You’re probably wondering how other small businesses just like yours are faring with this game of should-I-or-shouldn’t-I-build-a-mobile-app? Earlier this year, Clutch.co did a survey with 351 small businesses to assess how smaller brands, in general, are dealing with the impacts of the technological age. Based off of the findings of this survey, it looks like while nearly half of small businesses have a mobile app, there hasn’t been any growth in building mobile apps in the one-fourth of businesses who indicated an intention to do so when the group was surveyed last year. This does demonstrate that mobile apps in small businesses are still not in the majority, although the percentages suggest it is nearly a split down the middle of those businesses who offer them and those who don’t.
This goes to show that not every small business has a mobile app. In fact, as of now it appears that a majority are still going without. A worthy piece of advice is to avoid building a mobile app for your small business just because others are doing so. The way to tell if you are in need of a mobile app is by evaluating the following fundamental things:
- Customer Journey
Map out the customer experience and lifecycle now as it is within your business model. Are there certain areas when you communicate with your customer that could be enhanced by a mobile app?
- Potential Impact
Look at the goals you have laid out for the app; what kind of impact would you expect? Is it for existing customers and customer loyalty? Or is the intention to reach new users?
- Measure It
You can’t talk goals without talking metrics! The biggest thing here is how you choose to define success, and how you want to measure it. Think size and quality of revenue brought in by customers. How will you use the app to entice new customers, and reward existing ones? What type of promotional offers will you advertise at certain customer milestones? Will there be an identifiable impact on business revenue from these specific goals? How much should that be?
If you’re able to answer all of the above questions and can demonstrate that significant uptake in customer use or purchase will be a reasonable outcome of a mobile app, then you’ve got your answer.
All things considered, the root of the app solution for your business lies with one basic truth: a mobile app increases engagement with your customers and expands your reach past your existing loyal base. If you can evaluate, assess and identify that the financial and time investment involved will pay out in the end, then you should take the leap and get started with that app building.