Whether on the browser or on mobile devices, app-mania has taken over. Consumers are looking for the next great app that will make their lives easier–and smart, nimble small businesses are happy to comply. In fact, from sales gurus to sports communities, small businesses are quickly realizing the power that apps give them to increase awareness of their business, help them reach a new audience, improve customer engagement and even drive revenue.
Whether a business chooses to develop apps for the Web, a mobile app platform, or both depends on their specific business goals, user base and budget. For Reby Sky, owner of the fan site NYGiantsGirl.com, a browser app was the best choice for her online fan base. Sky is a self-proclaimed “Super Fan” of the New York Giants and is also an on-air host for SportsRev.TV and Sirius/XM Radio. During the off-season, Sky found it challenging to maintain fan attention for her shows and website.
Seeking an inexpensive and easy way to connect with fans online at any time of year, she developed a Web app that offers fans the ability to quickly access the New York Giants website, view Sky on Facebook and YouTube, and shop for women’s football apparel and accessories. To date, there have been more than 800 installs of her Web apps. Through the NY Giants Girl Community Toolbar App and NY Giants Girls App, Sky is now able to retain fan attention during the off-season and keep them clamoring for more.
Feed Their APP-etite
Small businesses can also extend their reach and attract new audiences through exposure in one of the growing app stores or marketplaces. App marketplaces provide unprecedented exposure to a wide audience.
Marketplaces such as the Google Apps Marketplace, Conduit App Marketplace and others promote apps to a pre-qualified audience of interested consumers. By adding an app to a marketplace (which is free to do), SMBs expose their content, product and services to a new and vast audience of potential users. In addition, app distributors and marketplaces are developing more advanced monetization opportunities to allow publishers to earn profits with their apps.
Consider the example of Topix. An aggregator of localized news, Topix was seeking a way to provide more personalized service to its users and encourage them to spend more time participating in its online community. Topix developed a Web app that delivers localized news content right in users’ browsers, making the news more relevant and accessible and encouraging user interaction.
The Topix App became wildly popular when Topix decided to distribute it in the Conduit App Marketplace, which gave them exposure to more than 250,000 Web publishers and 170 million users. This exposure helped Topix attract nearly 4.5 million app users in less than one year.
In the end, the big question is whether apps can help drive sales. When thought of as a marketing tool, the sales model is easier to understand. Apps provide an introduction to a business, product or service. They provide value to the user and help the business forge a strong connection with that user. In turn, when the user is ready to make a purchase, they’re more likely to buy from that business.
Take the experience of Sam Richter of WarmCallCenter.com, author of the top-selling book Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling. Richter created several apps that provide his customers with important content such as links to tools, Web sites and his tips. The Web apps help keep his content top of mind and, in his own words, are “a core component of my business.” Since launching his app toolbar in 2008, Richter reports that his revenue has increased by 337 percent.
From creating consistent exposure for NYGiantsGirl.com, reaching a wider audience via an app marketplace like Topix, or driving real sales and revenues like WarmCallCenter.com, each of these small businesses was able to achieve specific goals through apps. SMBs seeking new, cost-effective and beneficial methods for expanding their businesses should consider these examples and think about how their business can “get ‘app-y.”