We’ve all heard the phrase “There is an app for that,” in fact, Apple copyrighted this sentence after they released the iPhone 3G, you can watch the advert here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szrsfeyLzyg. If you have not heard about it, now you have. Although this is true, we can easily observe the disengagement of businesses towards mobile applications, for instance, how many businesses that you have interacted with have mobile apps?
Most companies do not know why they need a mobile application, few know about the benefits of mobile apps, and very few have had the courage to build one. Excuses range from associated costs to shiny toys for the marketing department. Frankly, who can blame them? Most popular apps are games, services provided by technology companies and services provided by large corporations. This view of mobile apps disenfranchises a large pool of businesses and prevents them from taking a leap into a new way of doing things.
This series argues that mobile apps, more than most, are ideally suited for all businesses and considering the era we live in, and our smartphone addictions; it is not a matter of preference, it is a question of necessity and survival.
At some point, businesses will need mobile apps, not because of doomsday scenarios in which technology is taking our jobs, nor the hype surrounding mobile apps. It’s simply because of customer retention, increased competition and alarming statistics, such as the fact that we check our phones 150 times a day (on average).
The goal is not to scare you off or to tell you that you have to become a technology company. For most, mobile apps should take a supporting role in the business, not the lead. This supporting role is what we explore throughout this series.
This article contains four parts, . The second part will address reasons not to develop a mobile app; the third will list real benefits of mobile apps and the fourth will contain examples of how some businesses can significantly benefit from mobile apps.
What You Need To Know About Opposing Views
Most companies are excellent at saying “No” and they can back it up with various facts too, in most cases, they are just skeptical to changes or novelty. Here are the most complaints I have heard from potential clients.
It is expensive
Not always, it depends on the nature of your business, if you want to create a company like Uber, currently valued at 63 billion dollars, you ought to keep your 4K in the safe because an app of that nature will cost you more than that. However, if you want an application tailored to support your business and the needs of your customers, you can probably afford it. Furthermore, if the app has the potential to increase revenue, and provide a clear return on investment, the bank can finance it.
Need to hire lots of developers and IT people to run it
Another myth, there are software development shops around, we are one of them. All you need is to manage your content, and that is not a technical task, you can do it in a few clicks and be trained adequately so it becomes a walk in the park.
These are just toys for the marketing department to show-off
This one is true; some apps are beautiful but useless. However, marketers can argue that those apps have the potential to attract new customers and differentiate an organization from its competitors.
Don’t know if there is an app for my business
Either you do not understand your business operations in depth, or you do not know your customers that well. Remember, there is an app for that! Seriously, some apps can teach you about your own business and give you insights into what your customers want, this one https://www.google.com/business/how-it-works/ for example.
Can you believe that people managed to come up with meditation apps? Yes, meditation, the practice of focusing on your breath and learning to control your thoughts… in silence! How did they do that? Well, They simply focused on one activity, the coaching part of meditation. The app does not interfere with the core activities of meditation itself; it supports it, here is an example headspace and they make more money than the best meditation guru in the market.
You might hate technology, but soon it might become the main differentiator in your industry and who knows? You might be lagging behind your competitors because you have not incorporated the latest tech into your business.
Research shows that less than 2% of app users make in-app payments
Well, you are probably talking about this concept or something similar. It might be true and also misleading because you do not have to offer in-app payment. Most businesses should not offer in-app payment. You can provide credit card payment through the application or better yet, keep your payment modality, if it is working well for you, just introduce the cost of the app in the invoice.
There are hundreds of reasons businesses can use as an excuse that they do not need an app, which is fine (freedom of thought). There is also one important reason why businesses should consider it… Profits.
If the app strategy presented to you does not increase revenue or create profit, you are doing it wrong. One way or another your app strategy should have a simple return on investment. The next part will provide businesses with benefits of mobile apps, good indications for return on investment.
The Benefits Of Mobile Apps
The query “benefits of mobile applications for businesses” returns about 28 200 000 results on Google. We can find at least one good reason to help your business.
Additional value proposition to your customers
Every business wants to offer more to its clients and in return receives more as well. A mobile application provides a unique window of opportunity for providing more value to retain current customers and eventually decrease your churn rate.
Organic Advertising & Brand Visibility
Let’s think about ways we advertise our companies; we use multiple channels such as flyers,television & radio ads, online marketing tools, Search Engine Optimisation, billboards, and social media marketing. Most of these are quite expensive, and nothing seems to beat the old evangelical approach… word of mouth! It is cheaper and very efficient. In this context, the goal mobile apps are to create an organic sales strategy at more reasonable cost than regular channels.
Let us look at Facebook organic marketing strategy as an example. It consists of using people on Facebook to attract outsiders; if your friend shows you a picture of cute babies on Monday and Tuesday, and you happen to like baby pictures, there is a high probability that you are going to subscribe to that baby picture channel.
Same applies for businesses, if your current customers love the service you provide through the app, they will most likely talk about it to their friends and family members, hence, increasing your visibility and attracting more people to your business.
Reduce operational costs and improve customer services
Mobile apps are cheaper to run in comparison to traditional customer assistance services, for the most part, a user needs internet connectivity, which is cheaper than making phone calls. Businesses can use apps to increase the level of accessibility their customers have.
Responding to customer queries and resolving issues as soon as possible plays a significant role in your customer retention rate. A mobile application provides customers with an easy way to log in requests; and to your company, an easier way to handle them. For instance, Multichoice developed an app for their DStv subscribers and now, there is no need for calling the call centre and waiting on hold for ages before you are helped.
There is an undeniable correlation between customer satisfaction and revenue. In fact, most businessmen know that clients often buy based on how they feel rather than anything else, otherwise, why you would purchase a bottle of champagne or a full course meal while trying to close a deal.
Unless you have first mover’s advantage and no competition, chances are, you will have to compete on customer satisfaction to make ends meet. A mobile app is an incredible tool if you use it right, especially in a world where one-third of the population has a smartphone in their pocket.
Mobile apps can help businesses create monthly revenue. It depends on the products and services you provide. Please read examples in part four to know more about it and see if similar approaches will suit your business.
We believe that most companies know their customers and the benefits of products and services they provide, hence, an expert in industries listed below can come up with a better app!
The following examples show that regardless of the industry there is a suitable and cost-effective mobile application. Feel free to tell us about your organization at email@example.com, and we will work with you to identify the right solution, or if you are an expert, we will build it for you.
Example 1: Real Estate
Imagine you have 100 tenants that you are currently managing, they regularly fill in forms for various requests such as repairs and maintenance, they receive statements and notices via email, and every communication requires paperwork. On your side, you end up with all these files that you need to search through, employ many people to handle them, and in the end, your profit margin is not impressive, you barely make it!
You do not need an enterprise system to handle your workload; you simply need an app to manage your tenants better. They can open the app, log in, and access every information they require and request whatever service they would like. On the other end, you will receive notifications instantly and help address them more efficiently; your database is easily updated, you do not have to go through hell to sort files and track requests.
As a result, everybody wins. Plus, you can throw in a personal task manager for tenants to schedule their house tasks as a bonus, and residents will be willing to pay a small fee for that comfort.
You can introduce the monthly cost in the levy statement, and your payment modality does not change. This strategy increases your revenue and customer satisfaction. It will also create an organic marketing approach by leading your tenant to recommend your services to their friends and family member.
Example 2: Hotels & Guesthouses:
Hotels and guesthouses do not receive monthly recurrent customers; most people come for a short period, and customer service is the lifeline of the business. Everything seems in order, no need for an app, right? Wrong! There is always a window of opportunity for a mobile app.
For instance, in this industry, it is familiar to bill guests for items such as laundry service, room service, phone calls, and sometimes Wi-Fi. What if they add a small fee for allowing guests to request for those services through the app? For instance: ordering dinner, booking a conference room, booking an extra room, extending bookings, requesting transportation, and even laundry?
Imagine charging R20 per bed, lets say you have 55 rooms, and these are full for 200 days a year. For R20 a day (1 bed), the app will generate R220 000 profit a year by allowing guests to do what they usually do through the phone or the website. Plus your receptionist will spend less time entering those details and instead, they will just validate orders.
Example 3: Supermarket.
Let say you own a supermarket; you have regular customers; your goal is to increase revenue and have as many people as possible walking into the store. An obvious route is to create sales schemes and advertise in local newspapers. Here are few things you can do with a mobile app:
- Allow customers to order in advance and pick up at the store: targeting people with day jobs and no time to spare
- Provide discounts and vouchers ( only redeemable at your store): Targeting recurrent customers and large spenders
- Enable workers to plan their monthly purchase in advance and update them accordingly as prices change in the market.
- Send them notification for sales, discounts and new items.
- Run surveys before launching new products in the store.
- Provide community news
- Allow people to post ads.
All these can provide customers with additional value that will eventually reinforce their habit of shopping in your store, and you can charge them a small monthly fee for using the app.
For most businesses, especially those in competition with others, customer satisfaction is crucial. However, it is very hard to differentiate yourself from your competition with “business as usual” practices; Mobile apps help organizations break the mold, provide better service to the customer and create new revenue. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that people are comfortable paying a small fee for the comfort an app can bring them as long as the organization uses a payment channel that’s natural to them.
At SovTech, we develop mobile applications for various businesses and help them with revenue strategies and payment plans to ensure their investment is worthwhile and exceeds their expectations.
Talk to us if you want more profit and improved customer satisfaction.