Does Your Local Business Need A Mobile App?

By on May 12, 2014
Local Business Mobile App

Short answer:  Probably not.

Long answer:  It depends.

What value will a mobile app bring to your customers and your business? 

Before you can answer that question, identify what your business goals are and make an educated decision.

First, it’s important to know the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website.

What is a Mobile App?

In a nutshell, mobile apps are small pieces of software that solve a problem for the user.  They need to be downloaded to the hard drive of the mobile device before they can be accessed.  This means that your app will be competing for the limited space on the user’s phone.

According to CBInsights – the average lifespan of a mobile app is just 23 days.  If you want to pass the stickiness test and live longer than 23 days your app better be incredibly useful.

What is a Mobile Website?

A true mobile website is designed specifically for mobile devices.  It features large, easy to navigate buttons that are designed to make it easy for the user to take a specific action.

Search Engine Watch tells us that 84% percent of searches show “local” intent.  Local intent means that people are looking for local businesses to fill an immediate need.  More importantly 50% of those searches result in a store visit within 24 hours.  That’s a huge number that should not be ignored.

Responsive Website

A responsive website is a cross between a mobile website and a standard website.  A responsive website simply adjusts the size of the content based on the device that it’s being viewed from.  It does not contain a special menu or calls to action that make it easier for the user to call or find your business.  At minimum, every website should be mobile responsive in today’s mobile world.

So now that you know the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website, how do you decide?

Start with business objectives

New Customers

If your primary objective is to increase your customer base and attract new customers, invest in a dedicated mobile website first.  Be sure to make it easy for your mobile visitors to find your phone number and directions to your business.  The “click to call feature” and navigation maps that will help customers find your business are important elements to include.

Client Retention

If retention (repeat business) and customer service are your primary goal, then consider developing a mobile app that adds value to the user.

Suggestions include:

  • Apps that make it easy to order products (great for restaurants)
  • Event apps
  • Loyalty apps that replace the old-fashioned punch card.

The idea here is to offer a reason for the customer to keep the app on their phone and generate repeat business.

If you’re an accountant, consider an app that lets them scan business receipts.  A restaurant might consider a loyalty app that replaces punch cards and rewards customers for frequent purchases.  A B2B supplier might want to deliver an app that makes it easy for its customers to order supplies by scanning and submitting the bar code.

Under no circumstances should your mobile app be an app version of your website.  That’s what a mobile website is for.

Action Steps

  1. Identify your business objectives for your mobile presence.
  2. Start with a dedicated mobile website, one that includes at minimum a tap to call and an easy to access map to your location.
  3. If appropriate, develop a dedicated app for customer retention, something that adds value to your customers and keeps them coming back.  Remember, a mobile app should not be a duplication of your website.  Think outside the box and bring value to your customers.

Your turn

How are you thinking about incorporating mobile into your marketing for your local business?

About Kate Bourland

Based in Redding, CA., Kate Bourland is a No Hype Digital Marketing Consultant as well as a speaker and trainer. She teaches small businesses and entrepreneurs how to build effective online footprints to help increase traffic, leads and sales. Visit her website at http://katebourland.com and Follow her on Twitter @katebourland
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