When we first started our business a decade ago, we were talking with businesses strictly about website development. In those days, we were constantly asked the question of "Why would my business need a website?" Think about how naive that sounds in today's business world. Virtually every business on earth has a website, even if it's one that needs to be rebuild- and rightfully so! A few years later, it was "mobile friendly" websites and we faced similar questions: "Why would anyone go to my website on their phone instead of their computer?" Now it's common knowledge that 60% or more of all online traffic is from mobile devices.
Just as we had to explain why websites were important, and then why mobile-friendly websites were important- in 5 years, the same scenario will be true for mobile applications. The question is simple:
Do you want your business to be on the cutting edge or the bleeding edge of technology?
The earliest adapters of web technology are still collecting the benefits. Their search engine optimization is likely far more organically developed than their competitors (unless their competitors have spent serious money on SEO), the traffic that their site generates is higher than the newer sites, etc. The same is true for mobile applications. Similar to online technologies, the development cost and utitlies to be able to manage your app have also come leaps and bounds since their original inception. What used to cost tens of thousands of dollars is now far more affordable. The technology that used to require a programmer to manage is now easily managed by anyone in the marketing department.
If I have a mobile-friendly website, why do I need an app? What's the difference?
Excellent question- and one that we get a lot. There are a few key distinctions between the two that are vital to understand.
Transfer of Information:
A mobile-friendly website is not only nice to have, it's imperative to have. Just like a native mobile application, a nicely developed mobile-friendly site will be able to tell your customers anything you want them to know! The difference is that the customer must go seek out that information in order to learn it, whereas if a customer has your mobile application installed on their phone- you can push the information directly to the phone that they are inevitably carrying 24/7.
If your business is hosting an event, planning a large sale, adding a menu item, or anything else you'd like to announce- how do you do it? With your mobile friendly site, your customer has to know to go to your site and look for information that they don't even know exists. Alternatively, you can spend thousands of dollars on Social Media Advertising and hope that your customers click on your ad. However with a mobile application- you can push the information directly to their mobile device and tell about the good news! When they open the alert, you can automatically direct them anywhere you'd like them to go (turn-by-turn directions, a flyer about the sale, a web page on your site, etc.).
Without a doubt, this is the Number 1 advantage of an app over a mobile-friendly site.
Utilization of Hardware and Software:
When a customer downloads your application to their iOS or Android device, you have access to several existing aspects of the phone natively. For instance, their camera can capture images your marketing department would like to share as they submit them to you. Alternatively, that same camera can be a QR scanner and can automatically pick up the QR codes that you use to streamline your operations or marketing initiatives.
We can also use the location of the phone, which is a fantastic feature in making your business easier to find for your customers. From turn-by-turn directions to geo-fenced push notifications, having access to their location is a great way to put your customers in your business on a regular basis.
Feature Rich Capabilities:
Among the most attractive features of our mobile applications is the ability to send out push notifications based on geofencing. Bascially, this means that you can set a pre-determined area where you would like to send your customers a pre-written message or link. How is this useful? Well, in an effort to protect the privacy of how many of our clients are using this functionality in their sites, we'll offer up some "hypothetical" uses for geofencing...
Local Coffee Shop GeoFencing
"John Doe's Cup of Joe" is a local coffee shop that finds themselves competing against the big name franchise stores every morning. To help drive some early morning specials, the owner decides to invest in an app that will help market to his customers. To incentivize customers to download the app, he includes a loyalty program where every fifth time they come into his shop their cup of specialty coffee is free. Because he has the loyalty program in the app, it requires no effort for him to maintain this program. For downloading the app, each customer gets a free "punch" toward their free drink. John Doe also added the ability to order a cup of coffee right there through the app, and then placed a geofence around a 4 mile radius of the local Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts for the hours of 6:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. each morning.
Whenever one of John's customers gets within 4 miles of either Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts during the early morning breakfast rush, they get a push notification right to their phone. When they open the notification, they are already on the ordering page for John's coffee shop, allowing them to adjust their route toward his shop and pickup their ready-made specialty coffee. He is literally pulling customers directly out of his competition's parking lot...
Real Estate Agent GeoFencing
John Doe is a real estate agent who has a number of listings that are always changing. He has a number of clients that are looking for houses, others who are looking for town homes, and others who are interested only in apartments.
John is able to list all of his listings by category in his app, and allows the users to filter out the results so that they only see what is pertinent to their interests. He also allows them to subscribe to push notifications for just those types of listings that they are seeking. When John has a hot new listing that he just landed, he schedules an open house and adds that to his calendar of events. He sends out a push notification to the group that is interested in those style of homes that takes them to the details of the open house. On the day of the open house, he sets up a geofence within 5 miles of the home that will alert any of his users about the location of the property. As they get within the 5 mile radius, a push notification pops up on their phone and says "You're almost here! Click here for directions!" When a user opens the notification, their phone automatically starts routing them turn-by-turn until they arrive at exactly the right address.
By being able to easily communicate with his buyers according to their interests and by creating a more positive experience for his users, John enjoys increased sales and therefore higher commission checks each month!
Local Restaurant/Bar GeoFencing
"John Doe's Mugs and Chugs" is a local restaurant/bar in a college sports town. The owner, John, doesn't have the same marketing budget as some of his more established competitors who can afford to advertise at university games, events, radio commercials, etc. Instead, he invests in a unique technology that allows him reach out and touch his customers in a way that is both effective and affordable. John invests in an app...
John utilizes a rewards and loyalty program where each time a patron comes into the bar, they scan a QR code by the register. By scanning this bar code, their app adds 10 points to their loyalty program. Every time the patron reaches 100 points, he gets a free draft beer. To incentivize customers to download the app, they automatically get 20 points for installing it on their phone.
The opening day of football season is a busy time for this college town. In anticipation of a large crowd, John has set up a geofence around three of his competitors for two hours before the game starts, lasting until one hour after the game is over. As the crowds swarm in toward his "big marketing spender" competitors, John watches as they receive automatic push notifications informing them that John Doe's Mugs and Chugs has available seating and that each patron will receive a free 20 point credit on their loyalty card if they come to the bar. To the dismay of his competitors, patrons are diverted away from their establishments and head toward John's restaurant to watch the game.
Based on his loyalty program, 20 credit points cost John about $0.35 per customer. The average customer ordered $12 worth of food and $10 worth of drinks. The push notification and the geofence cost him nothing, therefore John literally used his competitor's advertisements to his advantage.
Local Musician GeoFencing
John Doe is a local musician who has gathered a pretty decent following. He plays in various locations most every weekend, spanning a distance of 45 miles in every direction from his home. Because he plays at locations that are fairly far apart, John likes to reach out to his followers and let them know that he'll be in town on the upcoming Friday night.
To do this, John schedules a series of push notifications to go out at a pre-determined time. On Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m., John's app automatically sends out a notification to all of his followers within a 15 mile radius of the sports bar that he'll be playing at on Friday. The notification takes the users to the event page where they can share it with friends, comment, and RSVP if they will be there. On Friday at 4:00 p.m., John's app automatically sends out a follow-up notification reminding people of the time and place.
John also places a geofence around the bar that he'll be at. If any of his users pass within 5 miles of the location, they will get a notification that will send them driving directions directly to the host restaurant. John makes it easy for his followers to know when he'll be in town and provides directions to the venue. He also utilizes a special function in the app to allow his users to buy his songs directly through their phones! This means that John makes tips while performing, followed up by additional sales for those people that have his app and enjoy his music. He can use notifications to alert them of new albums, and uses his app as a true revenue generator for himself.
The venue loves it because he draws a larger crowd, the fans love it because he is so easy to follow, and he loves it because it supplements his income.
Law Office GeoFencing
The Law Offices of John Doe set up a geofence around a local bail bond company displaying a pre-written message for anyone with their app that reminded them of their contact information and informing the user that they now provide criminal defense in addition to their typical divorce settlements. When someone who has their app enters that bail bond company, they will get a push notification on their phone. Upon opening the notification, they are looking at a pre-written article that explains how the attorney now offfers criminal defense... You know, "just in case" the person knows someone who needs their services...
Our Apps have the ability to provide completely customized solutions for your business. We have the ability to provide a true business solution to you via your mobile application that is unique to your business. Many times there are common needs that businesses within an industry, and we can provide both insight as to how other companies have solved these issues as well as the functionality within your app to solve that problem for you.
Some of our standard solutions include:
- Push Notifications
- Real Estate Listings
- Mortgage Calculator
- Music Player
- Directions via GPS (Maps)
- QR Scanner
- Food ordering
- Table or Time-Slot Reservations
- Event Registration
- E-Commerce (sell goods via your app)
- "Call Us" via Phone
- Sync Social Media channels such as YouTube and Instagram
The Bottom Line:
Studies have shown that your marketing dollars are 7x better spent on existing customers than on new customer acquisition. Think about that for a moment... For every $1 you spend on getting your current customers back into your business, it takes $7 of spend to attract a new customer into your business. With a mobile application, you can utilize all sorts of features to keep your customers engaged with your business on a recurring basis.