Lately I've been amazed at the number of people with needs and ideas for marketing with mobile devices. Out of the six people I talked with about mobile apps in the past month, four of them want an app to aid in some way with marketing. Why is this?
First, a little background. Recently a friend introduced me to a book titled Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. A key component of inbound marketing is establishing a relationship with the customer. Once a business has established that relationship, the customer is much more likely to use that business rather than turn to a stranger. I believe that mobile apps are an ideal way to establish that relationship.
Mobile apps help establish that business-to-customer relationship in three ways:
1) A creative mobile app meets a need of the customer. For example, Chipotle has an app that allows the customer to order and pay for a burrito from their smartphone. Cool. But what's even better is that the customer can bypass the long line and go straight to the cashier to pick up their burrito. That provides a valuable service that meets the customer's need.
2) An interactive mobile app can be personal. Before, business web sites were impersonal for the most part. The customer may visit the web site, check out some info, and then go to a competitor's website and check out their deals. About the only way to interact with the customer with a website is via email. Who knows when the business will respond, and then who knows if the customer will come back? But with a mobile app, you can provide a link to call or text your business. Immediate communication, immediate relationship building. How can the customer find your nearest store? Use GPS to find the nearest location, and provide a link so that with one tap the customer can call or text that branch. Use maps to direct him/her to your store. Provide in-app coupons to entice the customer to visit. By engaging the customer your business can build that relationship.
3) A mobile app is always accessible by the customer. A web site requires the customer to be near a computer to be able to access it. A mobile app is is always with the customer on their phone. The customer can interact with your business whenever or wherever they want. Instead of adding your business to their long list of things to do, the customer can contact you whenever they think of it. By allowing the customer to interact with your business on their own terms, you enhance the value of that relationship.
Businesses today need to embrace the idea of building relationships with customers. In years past, it was enough to mount an ad campaign and expect results. Today's consumers expect more. A mobile app for your business can help you establish that vital relationship, meet your customers' needs, and grow your profits.