mobile app development

A complete guide to building a mobile app for small business

Building small business apps can be overwhelming, but with the right approach and a little guidance, you can create a great app.

 Building Mobile App For Small Business

Mobile apps have become an inevitable part of every business, irrespective of its scale and size. As per a researched report by App Annie, the first quarter of this year recorded the most number of mobile apps downloads. Both the platforms, iOS, and Android registered a jump of almost 15% year-over-year. Hence, apps for small business owners are becoming more of a need than a choice.

Though there are numerous advantages of creating mobile apps for small business owners, developing a mobile app may seem like an overwhelming process. Yes, there are financial and time requirements in small business app development but if planned properly, the benefits will surpass the cost by a huge margin. According to another report, 57% of total digital media usage comes from mobile apps. Just imagine what it will do to your business if you could tap this huge audience with ease and efficiency. 

With the beginning of mobile phone transformation to smartphones, the very aspect of reaching out to consumers has changed. With the likes of push notifications and geolocation technology, engaging with consumers has never been so easy.

Why do you need an app for small business?

I will try to keep it short and offer you some insights on the value a good mobile app will bring:

Reduce the wait - Witn an app, your customers will never have to wait. They will able to explore your products, review the latest offerings and make purchases at the earliest of their convenience. Push notifications will inform you about any request or query from the customers which you can attend to, without wasting any time.

Direct Sales Channels - Apps are the direct channels of sales which are becoming more and more common among businesses every day. It puts your customers directly in your contact and removes the need for any middle-men.

Market yourself - Apps are great marketing tools. You can use organic app marketing and app store optimisation to make your app and your brand more recognisable.

Social platform - Apps are a great medium to connect with your users and create a community to support your product. You can sare blogs, forums and other media to talk about your products, vision, values and what your future.

Engagement and value - Apps offer various methods of effective customer engagement without raising any extra cost. Higher client engagement will help you in knowing your target audience better and make plans accordingly.

Enhance brand visibility - You can boost your brand visibility via various campaigns spearheaded through your app. For example, you can create special offers and discounts depending, run a contest or offer rewards to veterans users.

  • 47% of companies with 50 employees or more have had an app since 2017.
  • 42% of smartphone users who browse products on mobile apps purchase within an hour.
  • 69% of these on-the-go users will get converted in the store.
  • About 23% of small businesses had created a native app by late 2019.
  • Reports have shown small business apps have resulted in 
  1. Improve customer service (76%)
  2. Increase sales (37%)
  3. Compete with other businesses (35%)

Here are some key insights we gathered during our research, on how small businesses around the world are adapting to mobile applications.

How To Build A Mobile App For Small business

 

Now, let's get to the point. If you are a start-up or a small business, you are required to follow some underlying fundamentals of mobile app development.

From the very idea to have an app to its design, and from rolling it in the market to working on the customer’s feedback, everything has its value. It depends on how small business owners manage to bind all these aspects together, will give the results.

Following are the steps of app development for small business that business owners need to follow:

1. Create goals

Getting an app because everyone else is getting it is not going to give good results to your project. Instead, figure out all the goals you want to achieve with your app. Before you start to ask these question to yourself:

  • Why do you need an app?
  • What is your target audience?
  • What features must be included?
  • How will you promote the mobile app?

Outlining the goals of a small business application will help you track your progress and finish your project fast. Be realistic with your goals and don't overburden yourself. Start with 3-4 goals like informing customers about your services, making payments easy for your customers, creating a catalogue of your product and services, create a two-way communication channel with your audience, etc. 

Expert Tip: As a small business, cut down on many of the aspects that are avoidable and start with simple goals.

2. Planning your app

Once you have a vision for your business app for small business, it’s time to get into the plan of action. First thing, create a team for the project with people from marketing and IT, someone with the understanding of the process. Once you are ready with your team, start brainstorming of key aspects of the app like:

The platform you will use for the app - Will it be an Android, iOS, both or cross-platform app? Get in the pros and cons of each and make a decision which will help you in the long learn. Align your vision with the vision of the app and treat it like an asset which you are building for a longer run. For more detail on this, you can go through our articles like “Advantages of Hybrid Mobile App Development” and “The Ideal Guide For Cross-Platform Mobile App Development.”

The timing of the launch: Align your timing with a special event like a new product launch, an achievement or anniversary. Make your app launch a marketable event and use it to spread your brand awareness.

Process of building and supporting the app: There are ways of creating apps through using platforms but most hire developers or top app development companies to do the job. Make a decision depending on your budget. Hiring an agency will give you complete freedom and best results but may cost higher than hiring a freelancer who will code the app for you but rest you will have to do yourself. 

Also read: App development mistakes

The budget for the app: Budget for developing apps for business owners varies from $2000 to millions of dollars. It’s up to you what features you want to start and what you want to achieve first. Ponder over features of your app for small business, like:

  • Push Notification
  • Geolocation and Map integration
  • Shopping and payment via the app
  • Integrating customer loyalty programs
  • Social integration
  • Virtual reality
  • Smart sync and updates

And many more. All these features serve various purposes and have variable effects on the development and maintenance cost of small business mobile apps. See what meets your interests and start with those first.

Expert Tip: By getting the small business mobile apps built on a hybrid or a cross-platform, the small business houses can get extra reach, which may prove useful in the long run. 

3. Create a dedicated App Development Team

Studies have shown that more than 46% of small businesses utilise their in-house staff for developing an app. Finding talent in your available resources is viable for small businesses. In-house staff have a better understanding of the business and require little transfer of knowledge while keeping the ad development cost significantly low. 

who helps small businesses built their mobile apps

Another option to develop an app is to hire a mobile app development team that can build the mobile app as per said specifications. App development for small businesses can be done in a few ways. Depending upon the functionalities, a small business house can choose between these three:

  • A mobile app development company - Offer maximum expertise, full-support, timely deliverables but costs high.
  • The freelancer - Lesser hourly rates but offer limited expertise and support.
  • DIY app builder software - Do-it-yourself app builder software helps small businesses who need simple applications to create one without busting a bank. Some benefits of DIY software are
  1. No need for codes
  2. Readily available templates
  3. Drag-and-drop functionalities
  4. Much reduced cost
  5. Eg: AppMachine, AppYourself, ComoDIY, etc.

The actual cost of mobile app development will vary greatly with the choice of a development team. Here are the tentative cost references for hiring large enterprises to freelancers.

mobile app development cost

4. Get the App Approval

Now, as the mobile app for small business is ready, the review of the submission guidelines of various app stores will be in order. Every app, be it a large or small business application, needs to go through the submission process, and more importantly, both iOS and Android have strict guidelines in place. So, it’s better than the small business to learn about the guidelines before submitting the app. Failure in adhering to the guidelines will only cause further delays with the approval process and as a small business, no one wants to experience it. Hence, it is vital to develop a better understanding of how to submit your new app on the Apple app store or how to publish your first app on google play before you set your foot further.

Expert Tip: Follow the said rules of the app stores and thoroughly go through the dos and don'ts.

5. Focus on App Store Optimization

ASO or App store optimization (ASO) is much like the content optimization that lets the app rank higher and ultimately increases the mobile app downloads. A small business, of course, needs visibility and reach. So, if the app is optimized smartly, it will help the small business to reach beyond the conventional boundaries. Needless to say, organic marketing and ASO are vital parts of small business app development as they don’t have huge budget requirements like paid promotions.

For a complete app store optimization, we need to get hold of the detailed analysis of the target audience. This will help small businesses in finding the exact keywords that the audience uses to search. Explore top App store optimization tools and know everything about the hidden app store optimization tips to get maximum organic traffic on your app’s landing page.

Expert Tip: Focus on the services and products that the company delivers.

6. Promote your app

We all know, without adequate app downloads, no app can survive for long. After everything is done, the small business needs to promote the app among the targeted audience, as this will help to get more downloads and engage more users. Promotion is a vital part of the mobile app development for small businesses, without which no one will be able to find out about your app or use it.

To engage the user to a new app is the most demanding task that needs to get going. And for this, the small business is required to inculcate the very basic element of all, and that is the CPI or cost per install to grow the audience. In this, the small business will be placing digital ads on various media platforms to drive the

Tips to reduce app development cost

Tips to reduce app development cost

There are a few ways by which small businesses can cut down their app development cost significantly. Here are a few tips on how to reduce app development budget.

Use in-house staff - As mentioned above as well, explore the potential of your in-house team and find talent which can help you in the development process within your resources before hiring dedicated professionals.

Think about Minimum Value Product - Depending on your business, you create a Minimum Value Product which can help convey the idea of your app. MVPs are barebone apps with minimum features and functionalities. You can also find investors based on MVPs.

Focus on essential features - While creating an app for small businesses, it is vital to figure out the essential features your app needs and only stick to those at the time of development. This not only impacts the app development cost but also reduces the app maintenance cost significantly.

Explore cross-platform development - Your consumers are using multiple platforms, hence sticking to one is not a wise choice for you. But creating different apps for different platforms will drain your finances and resources. Cross-platform apps are a great alternative which is more cost-efficient and simple to manage. There are different types of languages like HTML5, JavaScript, CSS etc. which offer amazing cross-platform functionality.

Use device functionality only if necessary - Utilise only those device functionalities which are relevant to you. For example, if you are developing an educational app, then GPS and location tracking functionality of the target device is of hardly any use of you. 

Simple UI and UX - Keep the interface and design of the app minimalistic. Don't over-complicate the user experience and rely on industry standards, they tend to be cheaper.

Outsource - Lastly, outsource the technical tasks for which you had no in-house talent. Explore as many options as you can, review past work of freelancers and make a checkpoint based plan. Stay updated with the freelancer’s progress and maintain robust communication.

App Development Cost is a worthwhile investment

As I mentioned above, the development cost of a mobile app does matter, and small businesses shy away from getting a mobile app due to its cost. Here are a few findings we gathered while studying the market.

  • Less than 50 % of companies shell out less than $25,000 on their mobile app. 
  • More than one-third of similar companies spent between $25,000 and $100,000 on the mobile app. 
  • The rest of the lot invests over $100,000, which is undoubtedly a staggering amount for a small business house.

The small business may question the huge app development cost and may find it off-putting to invest a huge amount of money and resources for their small business app. The truth is the more you invest in your mobile app, the better it will be for your business, provided you make good use of your investment and get professional help to run the operation. 

Moreover, the mobile app cost simply doesn’t end with the development of the app. Being a small business house, you need to understand first why should you invest in an app and what features you need to infuse in the mobile app, for how long you need to keep the app developer engaged. Adding the maintenance cost, the overall app development cost escalates.

Expert tip - Be sure of the needs you want to fulfil with a mobile app and the resources that you are willing to put into it before you start the process.

KPIs you should monitor

Now your app is launched and is life for anyone to use. Great, but your job is far from over. It's time to identify the weakness and strengths of your business and how your customers are treating you. Keep an eye on the following data points and develop a future strategy accordingly:

  • User’s stats
  1. Number of downloads
  2. Number of active users
  3. User growth rate
  • Retaining users
  1. Number of session per user
  2. Length of sessions
  3. The number of permission granted (for location, photo library access, etc.)
  4. Churn rate (number of users deleting the app)
  • Payment stats
  1. The average revenue per user
  2. Transaction per customer
  3. Customer lifetime value

The Upshot

Building an app for small businesses does require time and expense, and may grind you before returning your investment. But if you plan your steps carefully, make use of the latest technology and find professionals who can offer your amazing value, you can create a result-driven app, way under your budget. Commit to extensive research, planning and make a budget before developing an app. Explore all options, interview freelancers, review templates and make sure you invest in promotions as well.

So, with the tips mentioned above, you can create a great app for your business without spending a fortune. But be aware, a bad app can hurt the business more than it can benefit. So use this app development guide as a reference and start your research on every step discussed here. Be very clear about the audience's expectations and optimize the app with the best of your abilities. With the right strategy, any app can penetrate targeted goals. Yours too, best of luck!

Also readA Digital Transformation Guide to Change Business Fortune

General FAQ

  • How do I create a mobile app for my business?
  • How Mobile Apps help small businesses?
Aparna <span>Growth Strategist</span>
Written By
Aparna Growth Strategist

Aparna is a growth specialist with handsful knowledge in business development. She values marketing as key a driver for sales, keeping up with the latest in the Mobile App industry. Her getting things done attitude makes her a magnet for the trickiest of tasks. In free times, which are few and far between, you can catch up with her at a game of Fussball.

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