Mobile is it for small businesses. And mobile-friendliness can come through different channels. As consumers increasingly use mobile devices, the percentage of businesses with mobile sites and mobile apps has exploded. But does every small business need a mobile app?
A definite maybe, says dudamobile.com. Businesses need mobile apps if their customers have complex needs and need more extensive functionality. But all businesses should have a mobile website (including those with mobile apps), because they’re easy, cost-effective, drive sales and pop-up in searches.
To help you decide which might be right for your business, the site provides a side-by-side comparison of mobile apps and mobile websites. For example, does your business need in-depth engagement with customers or immediate access? What about cost? Mobile apps: $3,000 to $8,000, while a mobile website will usually set you back less than $10 a month with a plan. What makes the most sense depends on the nature of your business—and most importantly, how your customers interact with it.
Anita Campbell, who runs smallbiztrends.com and bizsugar.com recently posed the same kinds of questions in a guest blog at sba.gov. Having a mobile strategy is no longer optional for small businesses. But Campbell says to know whether you need a mobile app vs. a mobile website, the answer is as close as the workings of your business. Start by asking a couple of basic questions:
- Is your site mobile friendly?
- What’s your goal? Actually driving traffic to a store or having customers make transactions —or just generating online views?
Whatever your needs, Campbell says, optimizing your website for mobile is a non-negotiable. You’re customers aren’t just expecting it, they’re demanding it.
If you’re still uncertain, mobile expert Priya Viswanathan makes a strong case at about.com for the value of a mobile app for your small business. In fact, she says, there are clear reasons why most, if not all, small businesses should have mobile apps:
- It’s a necessary promotional tool. Your customers know that you’re technologically savvy.
- It can be a money-making tool. You can keep the cost reasonable by staying basic, at least at first. Then use monetizing techniques to generate revenue, such as in-app advertising.
- It will expand your reach exponentially. Customers on mobile 24/7 is a phenomenon that isn’t going away. Plus you can integrate your app with social channels for even greater reach.
- It’s a showcase for your products and services.
- It’s a tool for partnering with other businesses, allowing you to piggyback on their success (and vice versa).
- If you’re not quite ready, optimize your website to keep mobile users engaged.
So are you on the verge of taking the mobile app plunge? Newtek, the “Small Business Authority” (thesba.com), lists four signs your business is ready:
- You’ve got the financial resources.
- It holds growth potential for your business.
- It will fill a need in your market.
- It’s complementary to, and serves, your business model.
Business owners can benefit from what others have learned in their own app development process. Viswanathan offers some tips for creating yours:
- Better to outsource. While some businesses may have the in-house resources for developing an app, most won’t.
- Leverage your team in every detail. Your end goal: An app that’s clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate.
- Don’t scrimp. A lot of consultants say they can develop a mobile app. Insist on expert, “mobile literate” IT resources, fluent in the latest technology.
- Hire the right team. Do your research; get referrals.
- Don’t neglect your mobile website! Working together, the two will exceed your customers’ expectations for mobile access and use.
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net