Should your small business create a mobile app? Listen to this interview with mobile marketing expert Jeanne Hopkins, author of Go Mobile and vice president of marketing at HubSpot.
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Should your business create a mobile app to build loyalty and boost sales? This podcast can help you decide.
Here is a written version of the podcast.
Tad Clarke: Hello, I’m Tad Clarke for AT&T. I’m here today with Jeanne Hopkins to talk about mobile applications. Jeanne is co-author of the book Go Mobile. Jeanne, thank you for joining us.
Jeanne Hopkins: Thanks a lot, Tad. I’m really happy to be here.
TC: Before we get started, let me say that AT&T offers a full suite of solutions to help you with developing and marketing your mobile applications. Jeanne, let’s first talk about what a mobile application is and what types of small businesses could benefit from developing one.
JH: A mobile app is really a software program that is installed on a mobile device such as tablets, for example, or other types of devices such as smartphones, which are really different than a mobile website—you know, those regular websites that are built for a smaller screen. First of all, when you’re thinking about an app as a small business, you need to decide what type of application you need and how much you want to spend on it in terms of time and money to develop it. Then you have to understand the application from your customer’s perspective.
TC: What kinds of customers are best served by a mobile app?
JH: I have to say that the ones that are really looking for ways to deepen their relationship with customers. Not a lot of companies and not a lot of small business companies actually think about how they want to deepen that relationship. How are they going to make it easier for their customers to interact with them? Sometimes it is via a social media application. Sometimes it’s something as simple as being able to have order tracking. Possibly some sort of application that’s a utility that helps the users actually execute tasks from their mobile devices in order to communicate with you. Those are some of the ways I would think about it.
TC: Can you talk about some of the common types of apps that small businesses offer?
JH: I did find a couple of companies. One had a tablet application that actually walks you through their business—sort of a why we do what we do, in examples of their work. So I can see companies like design firms, architects, that sort of thing doing that, because content is consumed on the tablet devices and being able to see something like that makes sense to me.
TC: What kind of research should a small business conduct before it creates an application?
JH: The very first thing they have to consider is who will be using the app? That’s the very, very first thing. Most organizations need to start with their website. You need to say: How many of your customers are currently using smartphones or tablets to interact with you now? How many are visiting your website? You also have to think: Does your application actually meet one of those utility priorities for a company or for a customer? And the last thing is: Who is it for? Is it for a consumer, a business partner, or an employee? If I think it is going to go for an employee or for use by a business partner, that makes more sense and you probably will be able to encourage usage.
TC: How does a company get an app designed and built?
JH: This is a good question. It can be a bit of a challenge to create and produce if you develop yourself. However, there are plenty of plug-and-play systems that you can go to that don’t give you as much flexibility that you might have if a developer created the app, but they do provide a simpler and easier way to get the app built, approved, and up and running.
TC: What other forms of mobile marketing should a small business owner consider?
JH: This is where I stand up and I say: a mobile-optimized website. This is where you need to make sure that your site is optimized. More than an app, make sure that your website can be seen on a smartphone. An app is not always the first place to start for a small business. An app is probably step 4 in the process. And you can create some pretty cool apps for your business, especially if you’re trying to get close to your customers.
TC: Very good, Jeanne. Thank you for being with us today.
JH: Thank you, Tad.
TC: Let AT&T help with your mobile apps. Visit ATT.com/smallbizstrategies for more tips to help run your small business. Thank you.