Smartphones, iPhones and tablets have brought on an epic change in the way we communicate with customers and manage our businesses. We can thank a mini-HTML file called an app for putting in our pockets just about everything needed to manage our personal lives and our businesses.
Do you have a mobile strategy for your business?
If you don’t use apps, you’re dismissing a tool that has become more essential to the future of your business than a website.
Where websites are pages of static content with limited interaction, apps let you communicate in real-time with customers and manage the activities that keep you in business.
Applications for Consumers
Apps are indispensable. They deliver an emotionally attractive and interactive experience. The latest statistics show that people use apps for their mobile searches 80% of the time, versus 20% of those who bring up the internet on their mobile device and search from a browser.
Apps allow you to promote your business in a couple of ways:
- Marketing apps – Used to brand your company, find customers and build relationships
- Consumer apps – Used to keep in touch, offer deals and transact business
You may have to build separate apps to support each of the major platforms – Apple’s OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Google’s Android. There is very little compatibility between the major players.
Applications for Business
These app stores, as well as lots of other niche-specific sites, provide a wealth of incredibly useful (and often free, apps) for running your business.
You’ll find lots of choices for:
- Document sharing
- Financial management
- Sales support
- Credit card processing
- Customer rewards programs
And, a little more research will reveal apps that do really amazing things like:
- A translator app with voice recognition software that translates between languages
- A videoconference app with screen-sharing of presentations and data. It even lets you bug those who are late to the meeting
- An app that auto-synchronizes content to all devices including desktop computers, smartphones and tablets
- An app for geo-location tagging of points of sale
- An app that allows remote control of computers
All your marketing and sales activities, every piece of customer communication and (almost) every task you perform in managing your business is available anywhere, anytime from any online connection.
If you’re a small business owner, apps can make the running of your company simpler, more efficient and spontaneous. Some ideas to start your search for apps:
- Have a look at the off-the-shelf apps in the Big 3 app stores. Don’t start downloading as soon as you see something of interest. You have lots of choices. Make a list, and do your research.
- Search the internet for business-specific apps, perhaps in your niche. If you access them from their designer, you may be able to ask for modifications to meet your company’s needs.
- If you use a website platform such as WordPress, designers offer lots of apps for tools like shopping carts and plug-ins for real-time data updates.
You may need to go the way of custom app design, but don’t settle on price before you make a few contacts. You’ll have lots of choices in designers. Ask them if you can tinker around with a few apps they’ve designed, too.
Spend some time concentrating on an app strategy for your business. You’ll be astonished at what apps can do for your company, and how well your customers will respond to them.
If you’re already using apps, do you have some tips or stories to share?