Is It Time To Create Your First App? 4 Things To Think About

Lots of companies have created apps for their businesses – either to sell (in the hope of making money), as an extension of an existing service (like TripIt) or as a way value added service for their existing customers (like Starbucks App).

What about your business? Is it time?

Scott Hirsch co-founder Apps Bar , an online resource where any small business can build and publish a professional-level smartphone app shares his insight on app creation for growing businesses.

With the continued proliferation of smartphones and the on-going growth of app stores, there has never been so much opportunity – and confusion – for small business owners.

 

With more than a million apps downloaded every month at Apple’s iTunes alone it may seem impossible for a single small business owner to grab any attention.

 

Since www.appsbar.com was introduced in April as an online resource for building and publishing apps, I’ve spoken to countless small business owners who have no idea how to get involved and get noticed.

 

The public’s appetite for downloading apps just keeps growing. Smartphones and tablets have become the way we shop, connect with friends, and, of course how businesses find and engage customers. The first advice I give any small business owner is to embrace the idea that apps have matured from simple games and funny noise makers to robust marketing tools.

 

Many small businesses still look at apps the way they first thought about building a website, then a blog, and then of course micro-blogging on social networking platforms. What we impart is that every digital platform should be viewed as a new way to engage customers. App stores until recently were too expensive for small businesses to even consider – with the cost to hire an app developer hovering around $10,000.

 

But as with earlier online platforms new tools have come along that break down the cost barriers and even the playing field. Suddenly, a business has the means to compete for attention in an app store. But there’s more to know.

 

The first mistake many businesses make is thinking that charging for an app will boost their bottom line. Your apps should be free. You wouldn’t charge someone to visit your website, would you? Small businesses should approach app development the same, as a doorway to attracting and engaging customers.

 

But that doesn’t mean an app can’t help drive sales. A robust app should build in online catalogs as well as order forms, digital coupons, and calendars of events to drive customer orders or invite them to a brick and mortar building.

 

One of the biggest app stumbling blocks is how to make an app a two-way marketing vehicle. It’s true: just because you build it, doesn’t mean the people will come. Posting an app as marketing placeholder is an obvious step in the right direction, but by leveraging the right collection of tools, an app can provide customer touch points – including market research, customer service, and customer relationship management too.

 

Each appsbar app averages 500 -1,000 downloads within the first day they’re published. But they don’t magically find an audience. Just like your website, a business needs to make an effort to let their customers know the app is available. Any app needs to be interesting and provide a function, like an exclusive discount or coupon to loyal customers, or a Q&A with the business leader. The single most effective way any small business can use their app is to let the world know it’s available, whether that’s a sign in their store, in their signature on every email sent – and of course across all available social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

 

There have never been more tools and resources available for small businesses to join the app phenomenon, but with a projected 98 billion apps downloaded by 2015, there are ways to make sure yours stands out.

 

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About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com & Infusionsoft. Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

  • Anonymous

    Given the diversity of mobile platforms and devices, unless there’s a compelling need that can only be supported by native applications, most business owners might find it preferable to leverage technology to provide a mobile-optimized experience on their own website. 

    Using a cross-platform compatible technology such as HTML5, all the functionality listed above can be incorporated within a website, and delivered in a fashion appropriate for the device being used to access the information/services. 

    Rather than investing in native applications, and trusting them to be found in an overwhelming plethora of other apps – make sure the investment is appropriate to the needs of the business. 

    • http://Smallbiztechnology.com Ramon Ray

      What great advice and thanks. So I think you’re right – EVERY web site should ensure that their content is readable on mobile devices. Right? Before even thinking of creating a mobile app. What would you say are the circumstances TO create a mobile app?

      • Anonymous

        If the app provides a clearly superior means of performing a task or activity (GPS tracking, or image manipulation, for example) that simply cannot be done in a web-based environment, then it makes sense to create an app. If the goal is simply customer/business interaction, a web-based solution may be more appropriate.

  • http://kanguro.fi/ Kostas

    Thanks for the article Ramon. I completely agree the app should be free, personally I spend more time looking at the Top Free app ranking on the App Store.

    Another piece of advice to add, is that the best day to release your app is on Sunday (according to TechCrunch). Any thoughts?

    • http://Smallbiztechnology.com Ramon Ray

      Hmm…Sunday – not really sure on that – but if you have an AUDIENCE then I’m sure any day is good – but TEST