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If you’re marketing for an SME, you’re probably familiar with the phrase “mobile first,” especially as it applies to your customer’s buying journey. After all, this is an era driven by mobile devices—according to a recent survey, 90 percent of shoppers actually used their smartphones in the store.
Customers love the convenience of shopping with their mobile devices, even in local brick-and-mortar stores. In fact:
More importantly, however—
What this tells smart marketers is that, far from being a detriment, “showrooming” is actually a mobile behavior can leverage to their advantage. To stay competitive, brands need to see the mobile device as an extension of the shopping experience and develop a marketing strategy that captures its potential.
What does that mean, exactly, for the marketing director of an SME? For starters, it means remapping the customer buying journey with an emphasis on the behaviors of your target demographic, which in most cases leads decisively to a mobile first mentality—from your website to your marketing spend, and ultimately, a mobile app.
The path to purchase has undergone a seismic shift in the past decade or so. Take a look:
Go to the mall or supermarket
Identify a need
(personal, gift-giving, occasion)
Discover a need
(personal, gift-giving, occasion)
Check online reviews
Compare products in-store
or between stores in mall
Select a product or service
Select a product or service
Compare merchants, prices online;
Purchase in store
either online or in person
Mobile is with the consumer every step of the way; it’s more about behavior than technology, and here is where a mobile-first marketing strategy really pays off:
Image via pcworld.com
In a nutshell, most likely. Let’s look at another parallel between then and now: The year is 2000, just over a decade ago, and a web designer walks into a local bakery for a donut and coffee. He looks for the owner…
Web Designer: Hey, love your shop. Do you have a website? I can build one for you.
Owner: Nah, I don’t need all that fancy stuff.
Web Designer: Why not? How will people find your shop?
Owner: I have a sign, I advertise in the paper, I’m fine.
Web Designer: But how about online? How will new customers find you on the Internet?
Owner: The Internet? That’s for the big guys. I have my regular customers, I don’t need the Internet.
Sound familiar? The owner of 2000 couldn’t see into the future; he didn’t know what he didn’t know—especially about the way the Internet would change the world of commerce. And so it is with mobile apps.
The truth is, most small businesses will benefit from building a mobile app, especially with today’s cost-effective app-building platforms. Here’s why apps work, especially for small business:
A mobile app may not be a necessity—yet—but given mobile’s increasing dominance, and its increasing role in the path to purchase, the time is right to explore your options.
Some SMEs believe that their mobile website accomplishes all of their mobile marketing goals; perhaps it does. But before you stop reading, let’s look at some ways a mobile app is far superior to a mobile website:
In the end, developing an app often comes down to these questions:
Every business has unique goals and objectives, but there are some mobile app features that have universal appeal. When you’re brainstorming your app, don’t forget these features in your list of must-haves:
Once you’ve made the decision to build a mobile app, it’s time to assemble your app team and begin spelling out your plans. It’s a good idea to include executive management, sales and marketing, and IT in your app team; you can balance your needs and wants against your in-house capacity and budget. Here’s a simple 8-step plan to get you started:
Your amazing app won’t make a return on investment—let alone achieve your marketing goals—if no one knows it exists or how to find it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking marketing is an afterthought or a once-and-done activity. Your marketing department should be involved in app promotion from day one.
Your first marketing tasks include choosing a name for your app, designing a logo, and doing keyword research. You’ll need keywords for app store optimization (ASO) and SEO, both of which work together for app discoverability and getting people to download your app. Remember, not all apps will be an extension of your business name: Chamin, for example, has an app named “Sit or Squat” lets people rate public restrooms, share their reviews, and find the cleanest facilities nearby.
It’s important to add a landing page to your website announcing your app; include a subscription form so you can run an email campaign prior to launch. As your app is built, add screenshots and a video promo to generate excitement. Include links and app store logos once you’ve released your app, and include a section for ratings and reviews.
Leverage all of your marketing channels to get people interested in your new app. Add progress reports to your company blog, promote your app’s features and release date on your social media channels, and send out an email blast. You may even want to reach out to social media influencers to enlist their help in promoting your app.
Once you release your app, pull out the stops promoting it. Announce it with signage in your stores, banners on your website, and across all your digital channels. Offer people an incentive to download your app—a one-time discount, free trial, or bundle of loyalty points are all attractive options.
It’s also important to reward and engage people once they’ve downloaded your app; don’t be the app users open once and never touch again. Use push notifications to share relevant content and work your social media channels to keep people engaged.
Most importantly, don’t assume that your customers will download your app just because you created one. Your app has to provide a unique value or service to your customers, entertain or excite them, and give them a personalized experience. If you accomplish that, your marketing efforts will be much more successful.
Of course you’ll want to track the number of downloads, but that figure gives you just a glimpse into performance. The sad truth is that almost a fourth of all downloaded apps are only opened once, so your first priority should be engagement and retention. In order to get there, you need to know the Ws of usage and adjust your strategies accordingly.
For SMEs today, taking the plunge into the world of mobile app development is a much easier decision than in years past; new app-building tools, better insight into mobile behavior and mobile marketing, and a clear path to ROI means nearly every small business can benefit from having a mobile app. What’s holding you back from taking the next step?