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Why you need a mobile app – or not

The online universe is ever expanding, extending its tendrils further and further into our everyday lives. So many activities that took hours now take minutes because of the internet. We socialize online, shop online and even bank online.

As a business owner, you’re probably well aware that in the Internet age, you need (and must have) a website. You also know that if you want it to work for you, it should be mobile-friendly.

But is having a mobile-friendly website really that important? Well…

What’s that one little thing that you take everywhere, can’t keep your hands off, and feel helpless without? It’s your phone, of course! A little more than ten years after its inception, your smartphone has evolved from its humble beginnings to become a super genius.

Indeed, that electronic gadget that’s as versatile as a Swiss Army knife has capabilities not even conceived of 15 years ago, and continues to get smarter and more valuable.

In fact, since 2015 desktop computers became the minority and have been continually losing ground to mobile devices, the primary device being your smartphone. As of 2017, 57% of all U.S. web traffic was from mobile devices.

Consider these statistics:

  • Consumers now spend more than five hours a day on their smartphones
  • Over 40% of online transactions are now held on mobile devices
  • Three out of every four smartphone owners turn to mobile search first to address their immediate needs

These are just some of the amazing facts regarding mobile device usage, and more than enough reason to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. What’s even more fascinating regarding the first bullet above is that only 11% of those five hours on mobile are spent using a browser. What about the other 89%? Well…

Aside from web-surfing, your smartphone could not even come close to its abilities without a lot of help from the mainstay of doing stuff: mobile apps. Without them, your phone would be just…a phone. Mostly.

From ordering a pizza to checking your heart rate – and so much in between – mobile applications are the backbone of your phone’s magic. Naturally, many businesses offer mobile apps as an alternative to using their mobile website. As a business owner, you might be thinking that you need one too. Or do you?

The ultimate function of a mobile application is to perform an action or process in a simple, efficient and accurate manner. Of course, mobile websites can do this too, thus the question is what advantage or convenience do I provide by offering a mobile app?

Here are a couple of small business examples where a mobile app is a better option than your mobile site:

1) You feed people. Restaurants or grocery stores can benefit from an app because their customers buy multiple products with specific details, often returning to buy the same things. The sheer volume and variety of what they sell means a simple interface with an easy-to-understand process provides a user experience consumers want.

2) You’re on call. If you’re a service provider that travels to a customer’s home or office, an app is a good way to show your status or availability, and allow users to schedule/change appointments and provide crucial details while also communicating with you in real time. This is a convenience that your customers would love. Your team could also use it to convey their status and/or needs in any situation.

Keep in mind that for small business, apps are not necessarily a good thing. Even though the price of an app is more affordable than ever, continual updates and enhancements can become costly.

Another downside of apps is the effort required to keep it useful. Recent statistics show that 23% of apps are used only once, then abandoned. And three months after installing an app, 80% of consumers no longer launch it at all.

Larger businesses and corporations can afford to invest in an app as well as promote and maintain it. But as a small business owner, the value of an app lies in the answers to these important questions:

  • Would an app solve a problem for your customers?
  • Would you be able to promote and maintain it?
  • Can you afford such a “luxury” over the long haul?

To help you decide, there’s an app for that – just kidding, there isn’t – but we would be happy to help you find the right answer!