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It doesn’t matter what business you’re in and what industry that enterprise falls under, there have been a few historical bumps in what were once traditional business cycles that have changed the game forever. With a new batch of catch phrases like the new normal and disruptive technologies dotting the post 2008 business landscape, businesses both big and small have been left to rely on innovation and technology like never before to pad their bottom lines. At no time before has technology played such a central role as one of the biggest drivers of the push to capture new geographic and generational markets.
Consider this. A large chunk of the world’s population uses the Internet. In fact, three billion people which is almost 40% of the world’s population is online and a full 80% of those users own a smartphone. There are other numbers from Smart Insights.com and similar resources that all point to the new digital tsunami in mobile that you need to stay on top of if you want to ride the wave to new sales, either with the millennials in your target market or a whole new group in the developing world. There’s a modern funnel developing as websites are under increasing pressure to make themselves mobile friendly, and the gateway to that world of information, or the vanguard for that information, is increasingly becoming the mobile app. Research analysts IDC report there will be 982 million smartphones shipped by the end of this year. In turn, that will mean app downloads will rise to 184 billion within the next four years.
Disruptive Technology Set Loose
It’s another disruptive technology set loose on business like the cloud and data analytics, but this one is more personal in the sense that if these are properly designed and understood, mobile apps are the new improved tool to inspire customer loyalty. Experts from all corners of the ecommerce world are seeing the new importance of mobile apps for the firm that wants to ride the cutting edge. Allan Pollett is a SEO consultant based in Toronto who understands the significance of this new thrust in the world of ecommerce.
“The reason I like mobile apps as a marketing tool and as a way to build business is these create loyalty,” says the SEO/SEM with web development experience. Pollett has been in business since nineteen ninety-eight. “What happens is when we download an app we are basically tied to it.”
Apps funnel the Internet
He goes on to say that apps funnel the Internet searching experience into one easy method that becomes familiar and comfortable for users. Pollet also suggest that people enjoy simplicity with apps and don’t want to get more than one with the same function.
“Once consumers make a connection to whatever product through a mobile app, they are committed to it since that same user doesn’t want to download the next company’s app that does the same thing,” he says.
Pollett also points out that even the latest mobile versions of websites aren’t always as consumer friendly as a well-designed application.
“There’s a big difference. When you go to a website, you generally need to go to multiple pages and logins,” he says. “There’s a process that you need to go through. With an app, that’s generally streamlined where you usually get just the functionality you need.” He cites the banking industry where the apps have specific functions like processing checks. They quite often parallel things that you can do by phone.
Mobile tipping point
Statistics point to the fact the move toward mobility and away from the desktop is well past the tipping point. The amount of time Americans are spending online using mobile devices is 51% whereas the time they spend on desktop devices has dropped to 42 percent according to eMarketer 4/15 ( 2011-2015). The implication here is different from the early days of ecommerce when industry experimented with social media as a business tool but was not convinced there was a substantial ROI to be had. Mobile is a juggernaut that’s spreading across the North American continent and other parts of the developing world (Morgan Stanley Research reports the number of mobile users surpassed desktop users sometime between 2013 and 2014 ) and the business that wants to stay on the cutting edge needs to get onboard with the mobile app.
Of course, there are those firms that have already made the successful leap and they are in various industries right across the spectrum of companies looking to transition to using this technology to full advantage. Michelle Johnson is the external communications director with obrella.com, an online company geared to provide expertise and support in home and auto insurance. She notes that the availability of the mobile app has been a boon to the industry she works in, allowing customers to seek support, speak with agents more directly, read up on their polices and even make claims through their smartphones or other devices.
“Consumers expect simplicity and efficiency with their providers. The easiest way to keep this relationship strong is by creating user-friendly customer service through the human sidekick to us all- our mobile devices,” she says.
Still, there are some elements of this new world that harken back to other times and client retention was another area that Pollett, who has helped over 800 clients achieve top rankings on all of the major search engines, talked about.
“If you can transition your online visitors or your users to an app, you’re more likely to retain them for future business. It’s a big issue for most companies because they want to retain their clients.”
While there’s always a learning curve in the beginning, the goal of the developers is to make an app that will make the user’s online experience easier. It stands to reason the best of these applications take this into account. They understand the nature of today’s online consumer and how these folks expect an interactive experience in everything they encounter on the Internet.
Aalap Shah is another one of these professionals who works with IT generally, social media specifically and understands the importance of mobile apps for success in today’s cybermarkets. He says that some of the bigger companies like United Airlines and Starbucks have already blazed a trail by offering mobile apps that give clients all the preferences they want, as well as locations, rewards and offers you might not otherwise get. Shah is the cofounder of the Chicago Social Media Agency, SoMe Connect, and he’s been following the rise of mobile apps for some time.
“The app that has a compelling offer is the one that gets my attention,” he says noting apps that engage people through great content and provide something unique that’s tied to a favorite brand with specific rewards are the ones that separate themselves from the competition.
“A good example would be a toy store that notices I’m buying toys for a three-year old and offers suggestions or discounts.”
He says small to medium businesses should be enticing prospects by interacting with the local neighborhood or the city and town where they are located, even going so far as to ask their customers what they want in an mobile application that suits their purposes.
In the end, there’s really no way to avoid this latest technological thrust whether you’re a corporation looking to increase your brand recognition or a smaller business looking to alert potential clients about special offers.
Remember, as the most popular path to the Internet changes you need to stay abreast of the innovations these mobile apps offer since they are the new bridge to existing clients and new demographics. It’s been some time since CNN reported way back in January of 2014 that Americans were accessing the Internet with smartphone and tablet apps more than computers and the snowball keeps rolling downhill.
Still not convinced in the need for a well designed business app? If you’re still thinking you can get by without this icing on the cyberbusiness cake, remember the fact Smart Insights reports that a full 80% of Internet users own a smartphone and each one of those devices represents a possible sale if you entice them with the right mobile app.