SHOULD AN SME CONSIDER A MOBILE APP IN ITS BRAND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY?

By Shamal R.
May 4, 2022.

230 billion… the number of mobile app downloads in 2021! A jump of over 63% in comparison to 2016. This number is on a rapid rise with an increasing dependency on mobile apps, moving users away from conventional computers to convenient smartphones.

On average a smartphone user spends 3 hours and 10 minutes daily ‘on the phone’, of which 2 hours and 51 minutes are spent on apps. That’s 90% of app time with over 80 apps installed on the average smartphone! Apart from chat, social, shopping, entertainment, map, music and game apps gobbling a large chunk of the popularity pie, dedicated business apps make-up for a pretty hefty number of downloads.

Today, you’re sure to find every top brand and a growing number of small to mid-sized brands in store. SMEs are learning that a responsive website alone does not make-up for an effective mobile strategy. From your go-to barber to your favorite street food vendor, you’d be surprised at the nature and number of SMEs investing in mobile apps. While it’s debatable that the nature of business factors heavily on the decision between a mobile app, responsive website or both, it’s nevertheless an imperative decision to be considered by every SME… and here’s why.

Increases Brand Visibility

On average, Americans check their smartphones 344 times a day! Although it’s not a reasonable expectation for users to land on a specific app at every check, it’s a modest assumption that amidst the constant tapping, swiping and scrolling, the app icon is bound to frequently cross paths with the user, giving its represented brand substantial perpetual visibility.

While ‘the benefits of brand visibility’ is a topic in itself, and is not something we’re going to dive into here, let’s divert briefly. There’re heaps of content out there expounding the benefits, of which creating top-of-mind awareness, enhancing brand recognition, increasing customer loyalty, building brand equity are powerful list toppers. However, a brief understanding on the relationship between brand visibility and psychology of visual messaging will help better grasp the profound implications of the practice.

The subconscious is a greatly unexplored powerhouse that has the capacity to embed and extract incalculable amounts of visual data. Identical visual data that’s repeatedly embedded, generates a greater subconscious attachment, which in turn influences conscious decision. In this instance, frequent glimpses of a strategically designed app icon’s an opportunity to embed the represented brand in the mind of the user, establishing a subconscious bond which will gravitate the user towards the brand in response to a relevant conscious need.

Elevates Brand Perception

There are well over a billion websites in the world today! Though dishing out your URL is no longer a statement of prestige, let’s throwback to a time it was. During the infancy of the World Wide Web, the few who boldly ventured into the unexplored void of cyberspace, by investing in unheard-of virtual representations called websites, took a massive leap ahead of the competition, creating a distinctly elevated brand perception of themselves. The many who followed suit, trying to secure a plot of revolutionary cyber-estate, had to settle as a mere statistic. Point in case; 90% of the spotlights on the leading 10%, while 10% is on the trailing 90%!

Today, most small and mid-sized brands have the opportunity to create a similar brand repute, the pioneering brands of the web revolution created for themselves. Though it’s a fast closing window, there’re still many business models and categories that need to be spearheaded to a benchmarking app status. Do not fall for the short-sighted argument that only select business models and categories require an app. While the same was said about websites in the not-so-distant past, a brand without an app in the not-so-distant future will be perceived as a brand without a website today. 

However, if you’re one of the industries few who’s still reliant on a responsive website while most of your competition’s flashing shiny apps, you’re most likely losing market share and there’s no better time to engage an agency or freelancer. Do not underestimate the potential of a mobile app, or the lack of one, to elevate or diminish brand perception and the opportune windows that are still open!   

Builds Brand Trust

Covid-19 initiated the great online migration. ‘Building online trust’ is still a hot topic as many businesses struggle to retain consumer trust, while trying to settle online. You don’t have to look far for do’s and don’ts of an online modus operandi. While there’s lots of solid advice on building online trust, the golden nugget is to ensure consumers a great user-experience. Here are the top three reasons why mobile apps are synonymous with a great user-experience and is so effective in building brand trust.      

Performance: Mobile apps are 1.5 times faster than mobile websites! The reason being, mobile apps store most data locally (on the user devise), which has a much faster retrieval rate, than mobile websites that store data on remote servers. It’s also noteworthy that the functional backend tech of a mobile app is far superior to that of a website.   

Convenience: Tap-and-go vs. type-and-go! Rather than pulling on your mobile browser, typing in a URL and waiting for the website to load up, users would rather tap on an app and get on with it. Let’s also not forget that most mobile app features work offline, where websites simply snuff out.

Credibility: Statistics show consumers place greater trust in apps than websites, especially with online financial transactions (shopping, banking, reservations etc.). Interestingly, 85% of both Amazon and eBay shoppers in America, use the app to shop.

We can move on to discussing mutual benefits shared by mobile apps and responsive websites, and there are many, but let’s leave it for another day. The purpose of this article is to emphasize the contribution of a dedicated mobile app towards the development of a SME brand. As established heavyweights continually smother SMEs while dominating the commercial arena, it is imperative for small to mid-sized brands to engage all feasible counter measures. SMEs that invest in strategically increasing brand visibility, elevating brand perception and building brand trust will not just survive the onslaught, but will thrive within it… and as we’ve seen, a well thought-through mobile app delivers on all!

What’s next once your app’s in place? Here’s a great read on Mobile App Marketing Strategy by DesignRush.

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