Sadly, the days are gone when a business could build a snazzy looking website and sit back in anticipation of being happened upon by a stream of impressed admirers with their credit cards in hand. In today’s competitive world a website remains essential, but it is only the very most basic tool in what must necessarily be a wide and varied armoury.
Almost every enterprise today will supplement its core web presence with a range of social media accounts. In essence, the emphasis has changed from waiting for the potential customer to call by too aggressively seeking out business at every opportunity. Regular tweets and status updates are all part of the process of sniffing out custom and turning passing interest into hard sales.
Amid all of this is the company app, an ostensibly benign logo neatly tucked away on the home screen of the user’s smartphone which in fact offers the key to a wholly immersive and interactive experience.
Brand recognition and visibility
The most obvious benefit of working with a company to develop your own app is clearly brand recognition. The more often people see your logo, the more familiar they become with your service or product – even if they just happen to be scrolling past. Brand recognition is all about keeping your design in the subconscious mind of the potential client. Not for nothing do huge global corporations spend millions on advertising campaigns, even though everyone looking in is already entirely familiar with their brand and their products.
But visibility is also a big consideration. The very fact that you even have an app ensures that it will be listed at the app stores, including Apple which alone receives over 500 million weekly visits. Millions of users proactively search these stores for new products and designs to download to their phones. Just like a search engine, the algorithms operated by app stores ensure that the more frequently your app is downloaded, the more recognition it achieves.
Studies show that familiarity in itself is one of the most reliable sources of public trust. When people see your brand regularly, they are automatically reassured of its integrity.
Your aim should be to build a regular and growing body of support for your brand based upon familiarity with and trust in your product. Of course, you will first need to give customers a reason to trust you, and equally important is to give those same people a good reason to keep going back.
If the information provided on your app is bland and never updated, it is unlikely that many visitors will want to return. What needs to be done therefore is to leverage customer loyalty.
There are, essentially, two steps involved in doing this. The first is to keep your content interesting, and regularly updated. Make your visitors eager to see what new information you have to offer today which wasn’t available to them yesterday.
The second is to incentivise potential customers to purchase your product or service. This technique long predates the app or indeed the internet, but the basic principle in simple. Offer a discount, or a voucher giving a cost reduction from the next purchase. Not only do you make it more likely that they will buy, but you are also more or less ensuring that they will come back at a later stage and buy again.
With an app, the potential for utilising this approach to your advantage is almost limitless. Incentives don’t even have to be financial; they could simply involve special privileges related to the use of the app itself.
Incorporate unique and special features
The most successful apps actually work on (at least) two levels. On the surface, they offer a simple means of accessing your information with the minimum of fuss, but they can also be designed to draw in the user by providing games, quizzes, useful links, or indeed interactive features. When people come to your app to pay a social visit, as well as a means of relieving boredom every bit as much as with the intention of making a purchase, you know that you have an audience from which trade opportunities will follow.
This technique is in fact already used to good effect by many of the established social media platforms. On the surface of it a vehicle for social interaction, their popularity then allows them to offer attractive terms to advertisers whose services and products can be directly targeted at specific users.
Facilitate engagement with your visitors through data collection
It is always useful to gather as much intelligence as you are able on who is visiting your site, and the more interactive your app is the more achievable this will be. As such features that involve the inputting of customer information serve a dual purpose. When you know the type of visitor that is most attracted to your site you can design and present your content accordingly, further maximising sales.
Unlike with e-mails and SMS campaigns, which have a comparatively poor return, a well-designed app will generate encouraging levels of engagement. And the more interesting, fresh and interactive your content is, the more it will be accessed.
Ease of use
The single most attractive feature of an app is that it is easy for the user to access. In this modern age, with technology literally at our fingertips, even the act of opening a browser and typing in a URL can be a massive ask for somebody with a limited amount of time or patience to spare.
Once an app is downloaded it sits unobtrusively on the screen of the user’s smartphone until they feel driven to engage with it by the simple expedient of clicking on an icon. Once they have done this, it is there for them to use with the minimum of fuss.
Today convenience is probably the single most important consideration when it comes to conversing with a potential audience. If a visitor has to go to a whole lot of trouble to find you, they are probably not going to look.