Since the release of the first generation iPhone in 2007, people have been falling in love with mobile applications. Mankind witnessed one of the most life-changing inventions in the smartphone—which is why just seven years later, over half of the population now owns a smartphone. Although nobody will argue that the smartphone wasn’t an amazing invention, it does require a lot for businesses to adjust to the new mobile market.
What does this mean for your business?
First, your company must determine how it wants to approach this ever-changing market. For some people, worrying about their web presence is challenging enough, and the newer mobile presence can look even more intimidating. Rest assured—the online and mobile audience is something your company can take on, and it’s well worth it. It’s crucial for a company to stay with the times, like the former Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz said, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.” In order for your company to grow, you need to adapt to the fluctuating market.
How should you handle the mobile market?
This is where the decision-making takes place. In my opinion, a small business should have a mobile-friendly website as well as a tablet/smartphone app. You may have thought these were the same thing, but (just to provide some clarity on this) a mobile-friendly website provides a better experience for viewers navigating your website from their mobile devices. (To read more about mobile-friendly websites, check out this article about responsive web design.) However, a mobile app is a separate program that is launched from the user’s home screen or menu. This makes your website information available with just one tap.
Now to answer the big question: should your company have a mobile app? When making this decision, you should consider the following statements.
- Does your company like to run regular promotions?
- Is your target market likely to use a smartphone?
- Does your company run a blog? Mobile apps are a great way for customers to view your blog posts.
- If your contact information were more readily available, would it help increase your sales? Mobile apps quickly provide customers with this information.
- Would you like to engage with your customers on a mobile-friendly environment?
- Would you like to offer an online way for clients to communicate with your customer service representatives?
- How much does your company value digital marketing?
If any of these questions align with your business goals, you should consider creating a mobile app for your company. But how can you build a mobile app?
There are two ways to produce an app. The first way is to find a mobile application creator online that will help you make it yourself. Or, you could hire a professional to develop it for you. Although the latter may cost more, I would strongly recommend it if your company is serious about keeping a positive mobile presence in one of the fastest growing markets. For the brave few who are interested in doing this on your own, be ready to read a lot of documentation files. Be ready for trial and error.
The first step in the mobile app process is to select a company to build it. This is very important because these businesses have different monthly fees, up front costs, and levels of customer service. If you are looking for a starting place, I have created some apps in my free time from the following places.
- Conduit Mobile (very basic)
- Appery.io (much more involved)
- ShoutEm (basic builder)
- Apps Builder (very simple)
After you pick the app creator, it’s time to start the design. This is a very important part of the process because a bad app can cost you money and hurt your sales. Remember, the point of the app-building process is to make the layout and content very intuitive and easier for the user to interact with your company.
The final step is to become a registered developer and publish your new application. Unfortunately, there are two major markets: the App Store and the Play Store. You will have to register with both. This may sound scary, but if you follow the directions, it will be simple enough.
After completing these steps, your company will officially have a mobile app! I encourage every company to consider creating a mobile app. This process takes some time and/or money, but your company will be much more equipped for the new mobile market.
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