The last few years have seen online marketers and entrepreneurs constantly adapting and re-adapting to new terrain. Whether it be shifting from antiquated mailing services in order to develop more effective e-mail lists through autoresponders, acclimating to the constantly shifting SEO criteria, including the recent updates that account for mobile friendliness, or navigating a host of social media sites to make your online presence more effective, web marketers have been overwhelmed. To stay ahead of the market though, it is necessary to keep up on the latest trends, and with the rise of mobile devices and tablets, one of the latest trends is apps. The largest, most heavily visited, and profitable sites all have apps, so many smaller sites have begun to follow suit. This leaves new marketers asking if they need an app to stay competitive. The short answer is yes, but to understand why, it is important to take a look at the context of the market.
Anybody who has read my past posts knows that I am hesitant to put a lot of stock in SEO rankings, not because they can’t bring in traffic and revenue, but rather because an overdependence on them can crush whatever stream of income you have coming in should updates prove unfavourable to the approaches you’ve been adopting. That said, it is important to keep your site SEO friendly. How does this relate to apps? As Chris Crum at WebProNews recently reported, Google has recently announced that it will be indexing both Android and iSO apps and using that information to rank websites. Sites without an app might be left in the dust. In order to remain competitive, then, it is important to have an app tailored for your site. This will also increase the ways in which people might find your product or website. If they are searching apps for a related topic, they may come across yours and follow up by checking out your site. With a one-time cost of setting up an app, and a lifetime of possible referral traffic and improved SEO rankings, investing in an app seems like a no-brainer.
One of the key benefits for an app is that it makes your page or product more accessible. If you have regular customers/visitors/users, than an easily accessible app means they don’t have to open a browser to visit your site. This also leads to increased visibility because they will see your logo every time they are browsing their apps. Perhaps you have a bakery and somebody is browsing their apps to find their Google Maps in order to get directions, but pass your app on the way. When they get their directions, they will have your logo planted in their brain and might consider making a pit stop on the way to their location. Likewise, it allows users to engage with your service even when they don’t have internet access. This is especially beneficial if you are operating a business like a restaurant. If your app includes your menu items, then users will be able to browse the menu without internet access, and if they are deciding on a meal in an instance where internet access isn’t available, you will have a leg up on restaurants whose menus are posted exclusively on a mobile website. This increased accessibility will improve your brand, and make it easier for you to engage with clients.
As mentioned, having an app increases also your visibility. Not only will it improve your SEO rankings, put you in with app searches, and put your logo in a place where your clients will see you on a regular basis, increasing your brand visibility, but it will also make it easy for you to alert users of updates and new deals. With updates alerting app holders of recent deals, you will have a way to let your clients know about your latest deals. This is especially useful given that a lot of internet users are reluctant to given e-mail out online, and therefore leaves a large demographic immune to autoresponders. In this sense, the app works as a replacement for an autoresponder. While many may not want to give you their e-mail, they may be willing to download a free app. It is important not to overburden your clients with updates as this may cause them to delete the app, but so long as you limit the updates to weekly specials or updates, there shouldn’t be a problem. Apps can also be linked with social networking sites, so when your customers use it, could appear in their news feed, thereby sending you traffic through credible referrals. This increased visibility will also be a great way to ensure you get repeat traffic.
HOW DO I CREATE AN APP?
Given that I coach a lot of newbie marketers, many of whom don’t have a programing background, there is a reluctance to create an app because people think that they have to make one themselves, or pay a programmer an arm and a leg to make one for them. Neither is true. There are all kinds of websites that offer this service at an affordable rate. Appy Pie, Como, and Appmakr are all great site that can help you with this, each with varying degrees of assistance and different rates, while sites like Code With Chris gives you step-by-step instructions. Check out these sites, and others like them, read up on customer reviews, compare prices and services, and see which one is best suited for your needs. Whatever you do, don’t let your lack of programming knowledge or limited budget get in the way of making sure your site gets a leg up on the competition, because if you aren’t getting ahead, then you are falling behind.
Given that the Pew Research Center has recently documented increased use of mobile devices and tablets, it seems clear that anybody doing business online is going to have to make their services mobile and tablet friendly. Since apps are a significant component the way users engage with smart phones and tablets, having an app will be central to almost all business in the future. An app will improve your SEO rankings, increase your brand visibility, and make your content or products more accessible to your clients, all while ensuring that you get repeat business. Other than the minimal cost that is required to create an app, there really are no drawbacks, and that cost will likely be offset within the year for any who is just starting out, and likely within the month for anybody with an established product or site. If your site doesn’t have an app yet, don’t let another month go by without out.