It’s no secret that nearly every business has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With hundreds of millions of vaccines administered throughout the world, though, we’re finally starting to see a smidgeon of light at the end of the tunnel.
Are you wondering what you can do to revamp your business in a post-COVID world? Have you considered building a custom mobile app?
Read on to learn more about the benefits of a mobile app. We’ll also outline the steps you’ll need to take to start creating an app.
Why Build a Custom Mobile App?
A custom mobile app provides you with bespoke technology that allows you to provide a higher level of service to your customers and clients. In a post-COVID world, where many businesses are still struggling to stay afloat, anything you can do to improve customer service and stand out from the competition is a move in the right direction.
If you’ve been on the fence about investing in a custom mobile app, consider the following benefits they can provide:
Work with the Grain, Not Against It
In the wake of COVID-19, more people started spending time online and on their mobile devices (what else could we do, especially in the early days of the pandemic?). In fact, one survey of 2,200 people found that 39 percent had been relying more on their phones in response to social distancing measures.
While we might venture out of our homes a bit more frequently once we’re fully vaccinated, it’s unlikely that mobile and internet use will decrease that dramatically.
People are still going to be spending lots of time on their devices. Because of this, businesses need to meet them where they’re at if they want to make a good impression, promote their products or services, and grow their brands.
Increase Brand Awareness
Custom mobile apps are an awesome way to get more eyes on your business and help people start recognizing your company.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been around for years or are brand new. In either case, mobile apps do an excellent job of building brand recognition and increasing the likelihood that people will actually want to buy what you’re selling.
Remember, the more people come in contact with your brand, the more inclined they’ll be to think of it when they need the products or services that you sell. Research shows that it takes, on average, 7 impressions before you can make a sale to a member of your target audience.
An app is an easy way to hit that magic number 7 and start to see the kinds of results you’re looking for. This is especially true if you’re offering a custom app that provides a great user experience and makes their post-COVID life easier in some way.
Stand Out from Competitors
Not only does a mobile app make your business more appealing to your target customers or clients, but it also helps you to stand out from your competitors.
Remember, this is the case whether or not your competitors have mobile apps of their own.
If they don’t have an app, you’re ahead of the curve. By creating a custom mobile app, you can gain an advantage and draw customers away from them and over to your business.
If they do already have an app, creating one of your own helps you to catch up and remain competitive. If your app is better than theirs (it offers more features, it’s easier to use, it has fewer glitches, etc.), you can also gain an advantage and will have an easier time convincing customers to check out or stick with your business instead of working with your competitor.
Improve Customer Service
The better your company’s customer service is, the easier it will be for you to retain customers and grow over time. Custom mobile apps are a great way to level up your customer service and do more for the people who keep you in business.
Here are some specific customer service benefits that mobile apps offer:
- Offer 24-7 support through FAQ sections, mobile chat with customer service reps, etc.
- Provide notifications when items go on sale, new features are available, packages are on their way, etc.
- Create a rewards/loyalty program to reward repeat customers
- Gather and respond to product and service reviews with more ease and efficiency
Mobile apps also make it easier for you to monitor the way people are using your app. This data, in turn, allows you to fine-tune your practices and provide a better, more tailored experience, which can further boost satisfaction now and in the future.
Provide More Value
A mobile app can provide your customers or clients with more value than a website alone.
For example, let’s say that in response to COVID-19, your business set up an online store so that people could still shop while staying home. Now, you likely want to increase online sales and so you can continue to grow the company.
There are several ways that a mobile app can provide value and help you accomplish these goals, including the following:
Have you ever tried to shop online through your smartphone’s web browser? It’s a pain, to say the least.
When you create an app and allow your customers to shop through it, rather than the browser, you’ll be able to cater to more people and reduce the number of virtual shopping cart abandonments your business is experiencing.
A mobile app is also a great way to share information and educate your audience. Perhaps you could include articles, blog posts, or videos sharing tips on how to use your products to see specific results.
You can even create a community section. That way, your customers can communicate with one another, ask questions, seek support, and enjoy a better experience when they work with your brand.
Mobile apps make your business more accessible and help you to increase your reach. With a well-designed, custom mobile app, you can get your business in front of more people and share your products and services with those who can benefit the most from them.
There are lots of ways that you and your development team can work together to create the most accessible app possible. Here are a few examples to consider:
- Include captions for video and sound clips
- Include image descriptions in the alt text
- Include voice search options to reduce the need for typing on a small screen
- Increase button size for easy tapping
- Improve navigation so it feels natural and eliminates guesswork
Remember, 15 percent of people in the world have some kind of disability. By catering to them, you get to enjoy a higher quality app and have a chance to show people how much you care.
Increase Customer Engagement
An app helps you to take your target audience from casual browsers to paying customers.
In the same way that a lot of businesses have struggled thanks to COVID-19, their customers have been struggling, too. Now that things are starting to look up, though, hopefully, your target audience will soon have more disposable income, which means they’ll be more likely to shop with you.
One way to ensure that they shop with you instead of one of your competitors is to create new ways for them to engage with and feel connected to you and your team.
Mobile apps are great for this. They provide a direct, easily accessible line of communication to your customer service reps, for example. This encourages them to reach out when they have questions or concerns, rather than just clicking away altogether.
Increase Customer Loyalty
If your mobile app is easy to use, encourages regular engagement, improves the shopping experience, and provides value to your target audience, you’re likely going to see an increase in your customer loyalty.
If your business is offering all of these things (and more), why would someone want to shop somewhere else? You’ve got everything they need in your custom mobile app!
You can further increase customer loyalty by including some kind of rewards or loyalty program in your app.
For example, let’s say you give someone points every time they make a purchase through the app. Then, when they reach a certain number of points, they can qualify for some kind of reward. This might be free shipping or a small discount on their next purchase.
People love programs like this, and they take advantage of them. They love working toward a goal, and you’ll likely see a major increase in customer engagement and loyalty when you implement one.
Get a Return on Your Investment
Many business owners might be hesitant to invest in a custom mobile app, especially if they’re already struggling because of COVID-19.
Upfront app development costs can indeed be a bit steep (we generally recommend planning on spending at least $20k). The benefits you get from a high-quality app are well worth the expense, though.
You can see a major return on your investment when you pay a talented, experienced developer to help you create your app. Don’t forget, an app will help you generate additional revenue. If you make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable, people will be more inclined to shop with you.
You’ll see even more results (and more revenue increases) if your app is accessible, has robust customer service features, and includes other elements that keep people engaged (helpful articles, videos, loyalty programs, etc.).
Process Payments Faster
Mobile apps make it easier for your customers to pay for products and services, too. Your customers can use your mobile app to pay ahead of time and schedule subscriptions, for example.
Mobile apps and mobile payment processing are also much safer than handling cash.
If we’ve learned one thing from COVID-19, it’s that we could all stand to step up our hygiene practices a bit. One way to minimize the spread of germs is to pay with credit cards or mobile payment apps rather than with cash (think about how many hands have touched that $20 bill you got from the ATM this morning).
For business owners who want to continue to stay safe and healthy in a post-COVID world, making mobile payments easier for your customers is a great option to consider.
Streamline Business Operations
Mobile apps can help you to streamline business operations and increase the overall efficiency of your company. For example, with a mobile app, you can offer easier online ordering and let people know when their items are out for delivery.
Not only does this create new avenues for people to shop with you, but it also creates new opportunities for increased revenue. After all, if you have in-store shopping and online shopping available, that creates more opportunities for people to check out your store, see what you have to offer, and buy what you’re selling.
Mobile apps can also help with a variety of behind-the-scenes tasks, such as project management, inventory management, and content management, too. You can use data gathered from your company’s mobile app to assess your company’s performance and make plans for the future.
Mobile apps, when they’re well-designed and customized to your specific business needs (and your customers’ needs), can provide a secure online shopping option.
Some business owners might have concerns about data protection and security when creating an app, especially when it comes to processing credit card information and other personal details. Keep in mind, though, that app development has come a long way over the years.
Tons of businesses, including banks, healthcare practices, and other companies that process highly sensitive information, have mobile apps and don’t run into serious problems with them.
Apps can also be more secure than websites in some cases.
This has to do, in part, with the fact that they often require multi-factor authentication, and they typically don’t store data long-term. Smartphone viruses are less common than computer viruses, too, which further protects your company and your customers.
How to Build an App for Your Business
Okay, you’re convinced that mobile app development is a good option to grow your business and bounce back in a post-COVID world. Now, let’s get into the specifics and talk about the steps you’ll need to take to create an app that your customers or clients will love and grow your business:
Assess Your App Idea
Start by getting clear on what you want your business’s mobile app to be and do. What kinds of problems will it solve for your customers? How will they use it?
Is your app going to be an extension of your website so people can easily shop from their mobile devices? Will it allow people to schedule appointments and connect with service providers? Will it have a community element where customers and clients can get to know and build relationships with one another?
There’s no right answer to these questions. Your business’s app can be anything you and your team want it to be.
However, you should be sure to get clear on your vision for your business’s app before you invest time and resources into building it. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time enjoying the benefits listed above.
Find an App Developer
Don’t have the skills necessary to build an app yourself? That’s okay. Plenty of business owners don’t, nor do they have the time to learn (you’re kind of busy running a company, after all).
At first, you might be tempted to rely on a generic DIY app building program. These programs seem alluring, and lots of people are drawn in by their low price tags.
Keep in mind, though, that you won’t be able to get a high-performing, bespoke app when you take this approach. Instead, you’re better off partnering with an app developer and letting them do the heavy lifting for you.
Hiring an app development company to handle your mobile app will help you get a truly customized finished product that better serves your customers and improves their experience.
Working with an app development company also frees you up to focus on other projects that will rebuild your business post-COVID. You can feel confident that the app is getting built, but you don’t have to stress and obsess over the day-to-day aspects of the building process.
Don’t Go for a Cheap App Developer
When you’re looking for an app developer, pay more attention to things like their experience, their portfolio, and their online reviews than their pricing structure.
Sure, money matters, but a cheap app developer often will not yield the kind of results you’re looking for. You might even end up spending more money to have another developer fix the mistakes they made.
It would have been better to invest in a talented, experienced developer right off the bat, right? Read this article on why a cheap developer will ruin your project.
Develop Your App
During this phase, you don’t have to do much. Remember, that’s the benefit of hiring a developer!
When you choose to work with a specific app developer, they’ll sit down with you for a consultation and talk about your idea, your goals, and the specific features you want your app to have.
From here, they get to work and you’re free to get on with your other responsibilities. You’ll just check in from time to time to give your opinion, monitor progress, and see how your app is coming along.
While they’re building your app, the development team will go through the following phases:
- Research and prototyping: The developers will dig into your target audience to learn their preferences; then, they’ll create a prototype of your app so you can get an idea of how it will look and function
- Backend development: This involves building code, creating databases, and handling all the server-side aspects of your app so that it works well and doesn’t experience any glitches
- Frontend development: This involves fine-tuning the way your app looks and functions from the user’s view
- Quality assurance: Quality assurance is essential; it ensures that there are no major glitches with your app and that everything works as it’s meant to
Launch Your App
When the quality assurance process is complete and you’ve approved the finished product, your app will be ready to launch. It’ll be available in the Google Play or Apple App Store (or possibly both) and people will be able to start downloading and using it.
Leading up to the launch, you’ll likely spend time marketing and promoting your app to get your customers excited about it. Be sure to send a message to your email list and let them know when the app is ready for download. That way, they can try it out and give their feedback as soon as possible.
Review and Update
After the app is launched, you and your development team will monitor it closely to see how it’s performing. You’ll check analytics to see how many people are downloading it, for example, and you’ll monitor in-app behavior to ensure it’s being used the way you intended.
During this stage, it’s also common to ask for and read through reviews from your app users.
Try not to take their responses personally, whether they’re positive or negative. Looking at reviews gives you a chance to see what people like and don’t like. This is valuable data.
When you gather reviews from your audience, it helps your developers to figure out whether or not they need to go back and make adjustments on the front or backend. This, in turn, allows them to provide your audience with a better experience (which increases their overall satisfaction).
Start the App Development Process Today
Now that you know more about the benefits of custom mobile app development, are you ready to move forward and create an app for your business?
Don’t just search for “app development companies near me” and hope for the best. Reach out to us today to learn more about our app development services or to set up a consultation.