Statista reports that over 179 million mobile apps were downloaded in 2015. That number is expected to increase to more than 224 million downloads this year, and that’s before rising even more in 2017 to almost 269 million downloads in the course of a mere 12 months. That’s almost 737,000 downloads a day!
With this kind of growth, it may make you want to consider developing an app for your small business. The question is, should you? The reality is that there are many benefits to doing so.
Benefits of Having an App
Daniel Cristo, director of SEO Innovation at Catalyst, says that having an app is better than having just a website in many different ways. How? Cristo says that apps have “biometrics, geo-location, cameras, sensors, augmented reality, 3D gaming…these are potential game-changers that already exist natively in mobile apps – features you won’t find on a traditional website.”
This means that you’ll be able to keep in better touch with your customer base, reaching them in a way and time that is most effective for crafting the sale. It just depends on what you set your app up to do. Cristo points out that you can create an app that can:
- Inform your customers of your sales when they’re within your geographical location, enticing them to walk in your doors even if they weren’t already planning on it.
- Provide you feedback about your customers, so you know how your products and/or services are influencing them, and tell you a little bit more about who they are, so you know how to target them more precisely.
- Enable them to use your products and/or services in a way that gets them to “see” themselves using them, such as trying on clothes virtually if you’re a retail clothing store.
All of these things can offer you a competitive advantage over other businesses in your field, especially if they don’t have an app available for their customers to download, but you do. However, as with anything, having an app does come with its disadvantages too.
Of course, if you develop an app for your small business, it’s going to take some money to get it up and running. Business and financial writer Suzanne Kearns says that “a relatively simple app costs between $3,000 and $5,000. Complex apps could cost considerably more.” That makes this option a financial investment that your business has to be able to support.
Another possible downfall to creating your own app is that it is one more marketing channel that you have to maintain. This may not be a very big deal if you have a full marketing team, but if it’s just you or you and a very small staff, this could eat up a lot of your time on a continual basis—time that you may not have.
If You Don’t Want to Develop Your Own
If you are a solopreneur or have a very small business, you may even be able to piggy-back off someone else’s app and enjoy all of the benefits without any of the headaches. One example of this is Vida.
Vida is a mobile app that connects health professionals with the clients who could use them most. With this app, if you are a health coach, exercise physiologist, nutritionist, nurse, diabetes educator, or doctor, you could apply to be listed on Vida, connecting you with a larger number of people actively looking for your services.
Plus, some employers purchase Vida for their entire staff, as they understand that increasing employee health also means increasing productivity, in addition to other benefits such as reduced turnover and fewer sick days. This opens entire businesses up to you, enabling you to reach an even greater number of clients yet.
Being part of an app like this isn’t just good for helping you raise your income. Jennifer Pullman, MA, RDN, LDN, is a VIDA Coach and she has this to say about being part of an app-based culture:
“I enjoy coaching with VIDA because I think I can make a bigger impact on the health of clients compared to how dieticians traditionally work with patients/clients. In traditional healthcare, nutrition counseling is often covered by insurance if performed by an RD, but we are limited in the number of visits. We also can only work with clients face-to-face when insurance is involved. This limits the interaction and often the frequency that I can work with clients.
Through Vida, my clients literally have me in their back pockets. We interact daily and can make adjustments whenever needed to their goals and plan. When working with my traditional clients, we often have to wait for their next appointment (which could be a month away) to make changes. With Vida, I am available daily to my clients and help them stay on course.”
In the end, being available via an app can help your business grow, as long as you’re able to support it financially and maintain its functions.
Do you have an app? If so, what has been your experience? Was it a good move for you? Feel free to comment in the spot below!
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!