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10 Ways a Mobile App Can Boost a Small Business in 2021

Mobile apps are dominating website apps – mobile phone users outnumber desktop users by far. In fact, mobile traffic grew 222% in the last seven years

It is no surprise then that mobile apps are better than web apps and are taking the world by storm. 

Source: https://microsoft.softvire.com.au

Mobile search is redefining mobile apps – mobile apps are so versatile that you can use them for information, communication, banking, entertainment, monitoring smart devices or systems, and running business tools. 

It can even be used to monitor your health and allow for doctor’s consultations without having to leave your home. The possibilities are wide. 

That is why small business owners need to catch on quickly. A mobile app can take your small business further in terms of brand awareness, lead generation, engagements, and, most of all, conversions. 

Improving modern businesses means that business owners take advantage and plunge into new trends to give their brand a competitive edge. 

10 Reasons Why Mobile Apps Can Boost Businesses

Allow Offline Access to Your Business

Source: https://photos.app.goo.gl/3foQa59B1xrCLVrN7

It is probably one of the most important advantages – your users still have access to your business even if they do not have internet access. Web apps cannot offer this because websites function only in an HTML environment requiring the Internet connection. 

Basically, you bring your business closer to the people, wherever they may be. As much as physical location is vital for any business, giving your consumers access to your business wherever they may be is a valuable digital space. 

Any updates or changes can always be uploaded once the user goes online. Syncing cloud-based services and data for the app also seamlessly happens between offline and online mobile apps. 

Mobile websites also run on JavaScript, which is buggy. Mobile applications are written using a faster code and hold much of their data within the device’s main processor. 

Increase Brand Visibility

Your brand consists of everything that makes your brand unique among other brands (your logo, colors, design, services, etc.). 

Including a mobile app in your digital marketing strategy is a smart way to increase your brand awareness plus you will get the edge over your competitors who do not have a mobile app . 

Mobile apps enable you to inject content and promotions to constantly keep your consumers updated and engaged. 

In addition, having a mobile app helps your brand’s credibility and authority. When consumers can access your brand easier, it tells your consumers that you are there for them – answer them as quickly and efficiently as you can. 

Improve Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Source: sofvire.com.au

Although web apps resemble mobile apps more recently, mobile apps are more user-friendly and provide a more efficient way to complete tasks. 

Mobile apps also take advantage of features such as GPS, WIFI, touchscreen interface, camera, internal memory, connection tools like Bluetooth, and connectivity. All these features seamlessly integrate with a mobile app and that is the reason why it delivers much greater user satisfaction. 

With mobile apps, consumers can search for information, multi-task and conduct work or play activities without having to log in the Internet or a desktop PC. 

Mobile apps can work seamlessly with other mobile apps. For instance, you can include social sharing features, which automatically bring users to their favorite mobile apps. You can also integrate many popular messaging apps if users want to chat with you or join chat groups connected to your app. 

Mobile apps just do a much better job of bringing consumers “nearer” to your business, with a much more personal touch than desktop apps. 

Enhance Customer Retention

Data security and privacy are more vital now than ever. With a number of cyberattacks and data breach incidents affecting businesses, you need to provide top-notch cybersecurity and data privacy services more than ever. 

Security is the reason why most users prefer the mobile payment option – they can transact and pay online with confidence. Since data is stored on their personal devices, it gives them more confidence to provide sensitive information. They can also integrate biometric authentication to add another layer of security to their transaction. 

A user can also use payment options like PayPal and similar in a mobile app to make payments more secure. 

All these provide consumers greater confidence in using mobile apps, improve UX (user experience), and boost satisfaction ratings. Consequently, when consumers are satisfied and trust your mobile app, you will improve customer retention. 

For instance, around 30% of Starbucks’ transactions are now through mobile payments. It provides convenient features such as order-ahead, which increased their sales by 11% in the US alone. 

Source: https://www.boldbusiness.com

Through mobile apps, you can also inject reward or incentive programs for loyal customers, thus increasing customer retention even more. 

Provide Personalization

You can also personalize your mobile app service, which contributes to greater engagement and conversions. When a user can customize any product or service they are using based on their preferences, it allows them to express their individuality. 

You can also gather important data from how users customize your app. Appropriately using their data, with their consent, allows you to personalize your service further and provide products or services they actually need or want. 

It focuses your App Store Optimization (ASO) on efforts that are more likely to produce a new lead or a successful sale. 

Source: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JL7s1brqepMm58mFA

Provide On-demand Delivery

On-demand businesses are able to serve their clients with the help of mobile apps more effectively.

If you are a small business, you need to have a mobile app to stay in touch with your consumer base – even during a global pandemic, you don’t have to be out of the loop and close your business. 

Move your business online and create a mobile app where you can still reach your consumers and deliver the best on-demand service you can provide despite the circumstances.  

For instance, there was a massive rise in logistics apps and food delivery apps since people were confined to their homes due to strict social distancing regulations. It became an opportunity for small businesses to compete with big brands to meet consumers’ needs amidst the global crisis.

Source: sofvire.com.au

Provide better UX

Mobile UX design is creating user interfaces specifically for mobile devices – it includes handheld devices like smartphones and wearable devices such as smartwatches etc. 

The requirements and features for mobile devices differ from that of a desktop – there should be a different configuration meant to cater to this difference. 

That is why businesses must ensure their websites are mobile-responsive because the majority of people are on their mobile phones rather than desktops. 

When it comes to mobile apps, these solutions are already created for mobile devices from the ground up. They already meet the specific needs and constraints of mobile users, such as fingertip size. 

Attention spans are short in mobile UX – users want quick results with minimal effort and no issues as they’re often distracted. Signal and power loss are frequent worries. Typically, mobile users are micro-tasking, searching for local events and services, or passing the time. 

Designers must focus on making apps usable, searchable, and efficient for a highly on-the-go consumer market. 
Mobile app developers have raised the bar in UX design. For instance, mobile apps also use gestures to improve UX and allow users to do app-related tasks with ease.

Source: softvire.com.au

Enhance Digital Marketing Strategies

Mobile apps can be easily integrated with other Internet marketing strategies. For example, you can easily integrate mobile apps with different social media platforms to enhance brand placement. 

Your users can easily become your own influencers and advocates as they share your app with their peers and family. When app users connect with other app users, this increases publicity for your app and your brand. 

As you generate leads from your mobile app to your website, it improves your SEO digital marketing strategies

You can also use features such as push notifications to send personalized or localized promotions or information to our mobile app users, tying other marketing campaigns to your app. 

Source: https://microsoft.softvire.com.au/

Builds Customer Loyalty

Business owners must pay careful attention to customer loyalty and how to build it around their brand as it is a crucial factor for long-term business success. 

The customer is the heartbeat of every business. 

Without a customer, the business will not survive – learn how to build loyalty among users effectively and continuously improve Customer Experience (CX) to turn users into loyal brand advocates.

Mobile Apps are perfect for building customer loyalty – you give the impression that you are personally attending to your individual customers and you can better engage and interact with them. 

For instance, push notifications are more likely to get a response from users that converts than desktop ads through your website. Although email campaigns get around a 30% open rate, mobile app push notifications get a staggering 90%. 

Source: sofvire.com.au

Generate More Income

Since mobile phones dominate the market, it’s not surprising that Google Play and App Store generate billions in combined sales through mobile and gaming apps. 

In fact, both app stores raised $39.7 billion in total user spending in 2019, and this number just continued to increase, especially in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. The pandemic not only caused an increase in apps development and installs but also in engagement and app dwell time rates.

You can earn in different ways like in-app ads and purchases, subscriptions, affiliate programs, or sponsorship, among others.

The revenues through mobile apps are expected to rise to $935 billion by 2023. 

You need to bring your small business to the next digital marketing era by making your business going mobile. 

Source: sofvire.com.au

Conclusion: Mobile Business Growth

The simplicity of mobile applications provides excellent business benefits. 

For example, Microsoft 365, which used to be only available on the desktop, is now making a powerful smartphone app more user-friendly for its customers.

Mobile applications can improve business and customer service, especially when connecting your mobile app to your website via an efficient landing page. It increases your lead generation and sales strategies even more.

Mobile apps are an expanded platform for your company – if you want to expand your business, you cannot do without a mobile app. 

A Practical Guide for Building a Great iOS Mobile App

Although the Apple Store has witnessed a total of 180 billion iOS app downloads (as of June 2017), some findings show that 24% of iOS users uninstall an app after just one usage thus your mobile application must provide an outstanding performance to avoid getting lost among thousands of apps flooding the Store each day.

The reason why Apple is widely used in enterprises and businesses is because they pay strong attention to security and intuitive UI. 

Here are some best practices to consider when building iOS applications.

Stage I – Research

First, decide whether you want native iOS app or a cross platform development. Even if you decide to proceed with cross like Xamarin, you will need to know iOS basics to build an app that is functional and consistent to the platform. 

Once decided for native iOS, the next step should include proving the business case of your mobile app.

Here, you should identify your target audience, research and define your User Persona(s), create a mobile app specification and weigh the costs and benefits

After you’ve done your research, you should choose the reliable technical partner and agree on the development process

Once you’ve done groundwork for the development, you can move to more technical preparations.

Source: 9to5mac.com

Stage II – Setup and Tech Fundamentals

iOS is well known for its strict policies and formal UI/UX practices as UI deployment affects the app performance and the overall mobile experience 

Prior to writing any line of code, make sure that you have a good iOS development team which understands and follows the guidelines provided by Apple

Regarding the languages, Swift programming language offers a number of neat features while its usage increased among developers. Back in 2016, stats showed a clear domination of Objective C over Swift, which was used in only 11% of App’s Store Top 100 apps.  Nowadays, the situation changed as Swift is also convenient for complex projects whilst its code is more readable, modern and quicker.

Objective-C is also a great choice, where you can use the language itself or some of its elements, like libraries in a proper mix of both (Swift and Objective-C), taking the best of each language. 

Another important aspect is Xcode – it is an IDE provided by Apple to provide native integration level and proper tooling to build iOS apps. We use Xcode as it is free and it is Apple’s product. There are other alternatives like AppCode with add-ons to facilitate the development, however check its pricing models. Take all pros and cons and decide which one would be the best for your mobile app development. 

Source: pinterest.com

You should always pay attention to choose the proper version – as new iOS versions are released each year, older platforms become outdated quickly. Although older platforms may be compatible, it would make more sense to focus on the newest versions and develop your mobile app to be completely future ready. 

The iOS system of devices is quite rich and choosing the right target device should depend on your mobile app’s purpose – nowadays, there is a standard practice of building universal apps which adjust to the screen. For more value, you can adapt your app to run on Apple Watch which would be a great add-on for a health monitoring tool.  

Regarding the coding style, you should make sure all team members are consistent in coding throughout the development process. Such an approach will make it easy for the team members (or external colleagues) to read or improve the code. 

You can establish solid coding standards or choose from existing ones like GitHub, Objective-C or Swift guidelines. Google’s Objective-C guide helps to create an app which is easy to maintain and upscale. 

Another important aspect is proper architecture being the foundation for building a well structured app – while there are a couple of architecture design approaches, the most commonly used in iOS is the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern and it is the recommended one by Apple. This pattern divides the code into objects, designating each of them one of 3 main functions (view, model, controller), however developers combine the MVC patterns with other options for better results, like Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM). 

The Zesium iOS team would also add a Model-View-Presenter (MVP) pattern as we usually use it for most of the projects in our team. 

Source: javatpoint.com-ios-model-view-presenter

Stage III – Engineering process and tools

When writing clear and high quality code, the important aspects are the naming principles. 

When naming methods, classes and other code elements, always follow Apple’s basic guidelines by keeping the names clear and avoiding abbreviations or any kind of ambiguity. 

Naming principles should be consistent throughout the process, keeping its source files to build a clear and maintainable code. A good idea can be to set some common folder structure to help the naming consistency across the project. The structure can include folders like Models, Views, Controllers, Stores, etc. 

iOS offers a great number of libraries and frameworks which can be used to solve certain issues, from UI implementation to compatibility with device hardware. Those third-party tools can reduce the amount of time and cost of building the same features from scratch. 

Source: developer.apple.com

iOS platform has always been considered as ‘closed’ due to its restrictions, yet they provide an abundance of open source projects for you to use. When Swift was released as an open source, Apple has shifted its strategy allowing developers to contribute to the language and create more accessible tools. It is a good practice to use such third-party tools – there are many resources lists and dozens of such libraries so no need to make more work for yourself than you need. 

However, even with consistent coding style and common practices, there is no ‘one’ way to develop software. Each team member relies on experience and knowledge when writing lines of code but fostering code review can have a positive impact on the code quality and the quality of the app in general. IBM resource for developers provides some standard practices that can help achieve better results. 

Always make sure to focus on well implemented UI like iOS does and follow the event driven programming – it presupposes that specific events, triggered by some actions or outputs, determine the flow of the app. Apps built with event driven programming carry certain benefits for a business, like automated workflow, improved communication and more. 

Addition to this is Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) – using objects as key units for building software. Simply put, decomposing complex software into smaller pieces to be easier to develop and maintain. Good use of OOP will enable you to maximize the code reuse and minimize the maintenance costs.  

When dealing with complex projects, developers often need to deal with project-specific problems with innovative solutions and concepts. Providing enough time for research can result in significant savings in the longs run. Thorough preparation and working on the product concept is better than finding out the product cannot be implemented as planned after you’ve already commenced. 

Continuous Integration and Continuous delivery (CI) is another important element representing standard practice in software development (not only mob apps) and being the integral part of agile development. 

It can be implemented by several tools like Jenkins CI, Bitrise, Greenhouse CI, CircleCI etc. which deploy various methods to the CI process but have one thing in common: help you to build code for different environments, automate tests, manage defect logs, deliver artifacts and more. 

Source: blog.bitrise.io

Don’t forget to figure in battery consumption – an experienced iOS development company also knows the expectations of the users. Battery consumption and life are the most important issue for smartphone users and only the apps that do not affect the battery negatively will be retained.  

It makes sense as high-performance processors consume more power resulting in low battery levels in a short time – this is one of the main reasons for the great dissatisfaction among users of their apps.  

Include some measures to reduce battery consumption to get an advantage over your competitors and always test your app before you launch it.   

Stage IV – Deployment 

Source: newsdesignfile.com

Prior to reaching the launch stage of your iOS app, consider getting the Apple required certificates and accounts in advance. 

If you are the app owner, create your Apple developer account (around $100 a year), and give permissions to your iOS development team to create certificates and build the app on your own account. Each developer gets an access (admin or developer) to the app owner’s account and prepares the groundwork to commence the development. 

The best way to ensure a more efficient start is to obtain such accounts and certificates prior to starting a development process.     

Once your app is ready to open its door, it is important to decide how you will distribute it. Apple currently offers 3 distribution models:

  • App Store – commonly used model for direct upload to be available for iOS users. You can set parameters like target country, supported device or versions. 
  • TestFlight service – it is in scope of the App Store (meaning you upload the build on the Store) and provides an option to beta-test the app build before launching. You can have 100 internal testers (connected to the Apple account through a certain role, e.g. admin, developer etc.) and 10000 external users (full name and email). 
  • iOS Developer Enterprise Program is a program for enterprise level or business apps – although a costly solution, it provides complete privacy making it secure for your employees and contractors. 

Before submitting your mobile app to an App Store, ensure that your app is properly configured for release – besides certain forms to complete and files to submit, Apple performs a manual review to verify all apps referred to their store. 

Regular monitoring of App Store ratings and reviews are important for a new app – try to engage with reviewers and help the disappointed ones as it will improve your online reputation in the long run. 

Source: freelogos.com

Stage V – Security

Always focus on security

Some industries demand a high level of security like fintech, healthcare or internal enterprise apps dealing with sensitive private and business data – if you want your iOS app to be considered as a serious professional, you must implement the best security practices. 

Basically, it is impossible to create 100% protection from data theft unless you don’t store data at all – the best way is to follow the legitimate Secure Coding Guide by Apple or deploy some of the best practices like custom encryption, data protection etc. 

When talking from the user’s point of view, there are also some good practices to protect your own privacy with iOS 14. 

Source: applegazette.com

Stage VI – Business-wise 

Once your app is launched, the work is not over – you should implement analytics and reporting tools to see how your users interact with your app or why they uninstall the app. This provides valuable insight to help you improve your app later, where some of the popular tools are:

Source: pinterest.com

On a global scale, the iOS app downloads number has been steadily rising since 2016 up to the 2Q of 2020 with 9.1 billions of downloads

You can, e.g. develop a free product with in-app purchases to ensure steady revenue – in-app options should be simple and offer value with the basic version. Not all types of apps suit such a monetization model so be careful and check other monetization methods to decide which one suits your mobile app the best. 

If you plan to make your app for the global market, consider the app internalization to make it able to adapt to various languages. Preparing the app for localization requires a number of certain steps like separating language from the rest of the user interface, exporting user-facing text by Xcode and more.

Be extra careful with right-to-left languages such as Arabic, as they require mirroring the UI and changing the text direction. 

Source: instabug.com

Keep in mind that in software/mobile development, the product is never completely finished and even though you’ve implemented most of the planned features, the time will come to review the old features, possibly remove some of them and eventually add new features.

When Apple introduced an evaluation process ‘to ensure that apps available on the Store are functional and up-to-date’, an app is not allowed to sit around with no updates but it keeps the market competitive and relevant for users although setting additional duties on the app developers.

If you’re developing an iOS mobile app, a good place to rely on is Apple developer resources website

FINAL 

The common saying is that iOS apps bring less worries about your own privacy. That does not mean that Apple users are totally protected from malware issues, but that those are rare cases, as per MacWorld UK. 

Even though Apple is famous for their restrictions and strict policies, they provide a solid approach to providing developer resources and tools. 

Make sure to use these tools to your advantage and build a solid and functional iOS app.