smb-tech-trendsAre you thinking of creating a mobile app for your small business customers?  Considering that 64 percent of all U.S. mobile subscribers own a smartphone, according to Nielsen, enabling your customers to interact with your small business via a mobile app could be a wise investment.

In “Why your small business should have a mobile app,” TechRepublic offers three reasons for creating your own small business mobile app:

  • Target local customers:  Customers on the go are more likely to engage with a small business in their local community that has a mobile strategy.
  • Improve customer support:  TechRepublic points out that a mobile app is highly effective for delivering support “instantly and efficiently,” including support that might otherwise not be possible or convenient. For example, a customer could snap a photo of a problem they have with your product, send it to you in an Instant Message and you could immediately reply with a text or call them.
  • Get feedback: Your mobile app also is a good resource to find out how your customers are using your products and services and what they like or don’t like about them. You also can use your app to get demographic information about customers and prospects – location, age, jobs, etc.

If these reasons seem compelling enough to build a mobile app for your customers then consider the following to make sure you connect with your customers.

iStock_000017463784XSmallOffer a positive experience: You need to balance the needs of your customers who are on the go yet are looking for a satisfying experience. Consider offering an article or video that they can’t get on your traditional site, or offer a special promotion or reward for using the site.

Make it visually appealing: An unattractive app will discourage users from engaging. Your app should feature colors and other design elements of your brand and also be simple to use. A cluttered design on your mobile app will discourage use.

Keep it simple: Don’t overcrowd your app with too much functionality or too many clicks to accomplish a task.  Use your mobile app to enable your customers to easily perform a few select functions. Don’t try to do too much.

Add share-ability: Add social media ‘share’ features on your app so your customers can post to Facebook or Twitter and other social media channels and comment to help your app go viral.

Enable feedback: Make sure your mobile app provides a feedback mechanism so customers can submit a complaint, a question or a suggestion for future product features or capabilities.

DIY or Outsource

When it comes to developing your app, you can do it yourself or work with a developer. Here’s one list from Business News Daily of the “10 Best App Makers of 2014”  to start your search.  If you decide you want to outsource the work to a developer find out if the candidates know your market and have created apps for businesses similar to yours. Get references and take a look at their portfolio to make sure you like their design work.

Whatever way you go, remember to test your app before you go live to work out all the bugs. Also include analytics in your system so you can track the user experience and make changes as necessary.