Including a mobile app in your business strategy has become as important as having an Internet presence with a website. But as a recent study from Mobilewalla revealed, the total number of mobile apps available across the top four smartphone platforms is now set to approach the million-app milestone. With so many apps in the stores, making sure that customers can find yours is key to a top-notch mobile strategy. So how do you, as small business with a limited budget, compete with Angry Birds for initial app discovery and downloads by your customers?
1. Use social media to market your mobile app
DIY mobile app solutions let you send out links to your mobile app as a tweet or link on your Facebook wall. When a follower clicks on the link, they have the opportunity to download your app. Since social media is increasingly becoming an avenue for customer support, your Twitters followers and Facebook fans who are already interacting with you one-on-one will appreciate the opportunity to use your mobile app for the same purpose when they’re on the go. “I’m building my brand with my blog, my Twitter, my Facebook and my videos, so sending out my mobile app through a Tweet really leveraged all of the networks that I’d already built to get my app more downloads,” said Dave Cutler, a business consultant and blogger in Boston.
2. Use QR codes to get more app downloads
Connect a QR code to a link to download your app. QR codes connect the physical and digital worlds: someone sees your code in the "real world" and scans it to visit your digital presence. You can advertise your app using any of your pre-existing paper marketing strategies. For instance, if you’re handing out fliers or sending out direct mail, just add your QR code to the material and you’ll be immediately broadcasting the presence of your mobile app and get downloads. “For a lot of customers, cutting down the number of steps they have to go through to get to your app means they’re that much more likely to download your app,” said Chris Holman, owner of Nami Moon Farms in Madison, Wisconsin.
3. Distribute your mobile app outside the stores
You can get your mobile app onto your customers’ phones directly—without the hassle of an intermediary in the form of an app store. App creation and distributions services, like mine, house your mobile app in the cloud so that it can be downloaded without having to be deployed through a store. You make sure your customers are aware of your app, and the service takes care of making it easy for them to download and use on their smartphones. Such services let you are developed to suit the platform—native programming on some platforms, HTML5 on others and a hybrid of the two on still others. “What matters most to the customer is not where they can access your app but how they can get access to it—if you send your app out through e-mail then your customer is still getting access to your app and it’s direct,” said Tricia Priestly, founder of Frolicking Fido, a Boston business that provides pet care services.
Let’s face it: everyone is declaring 2012 the year to take your small business mobile. But that doesn’t just mean designing and creating an app, it also means broadcasting it. So be sure to consider these fast and cost-effective tips to ensure that you don’t just go mobile, but that your customers go mobile with you.
OPEN Cardmember Raj Dandage is the founder of Appguppy Mobile.