How to Make Money for Your Business With Mobile Apps

When you own a business, it can be a challenge figuring out how to take your company to the next level in the most sustainable, profitable way. Growing your revenues and customer base doesn’t usually come easy. But if you can capitalize on a already established trend, it could help make that process much smoother. This is where mobile apps come in.

These days apps are big business. In fact, according to recent statistics, mobile apps are expected to generate 188.9 billion U.S. dollars in revenues via app stores and in-app advertising in 2020. With roughly 3.8 million apps on Google Play and 2 million in App Store, that number is hardly surprising.

4 Ways Mobile Apps Can Make More Money in Your Business

But how can this help your business to generate additional revenue or gain more customers? Here are four areas to seriously consider regardless of your business model:

1. Sell your app. The most straight forward way an app can provide your business with additional streams of revenue is to sell it directly to customers. As long as your app offers some kind of tangible value that customers would be willing to pay for, you could charge a small fee. The average price of apps is around $.50 to $1.00, so it may not be such a cash cow. But, it could give your business a reliable source of passive income.

Alternatively, you could make the app free to download in its most basic form, but then offer an upgraded option as well that includes premium features or performance. This strategy works well with services that are separated into different service levels or payment tiers, such as business tools, platforms and services.

2. Market your product or services. Knowing that the demand for mobile apps is on the rise, many companies see this area as a marketing opportunity. Create a free or low cost app that your potential customers would enjoy or find useful. When potential customers download your app onto their device and use it, it will help to keep your business and its products or services in their mind.

3. Monetize your app with third-party advertisements. If you don’t want to make your customers pay to use your app, then one viable option is to make money through advertisements. Similar to website advertisements, you would generate money based on impressions or clicks. Of course, you need to consider the kind of business that you are running and whether or not third-party advertisements would be a distraction that would make your business look less professional.

4. Use your app to up-sell, cross-sell, or increase the purchase size. Your app can help your business sell more. For example, if you have an ecommerce business, offering a mobile app could simply make it easier for mobile consumers to complete their purchases. This could increase your revenue, especially if you utilize incentives to buy, such as discounts or free bonus offers.

On a more subjective note, your app can enhance customer engagement by providing a positive customer experience. You can use the app to make the order and purchase process as easy and enjoyable as possible. This can help to build brand loyalty that can ultimately lead to more sales.

In short, mobile apps offer a tremendous amount of opportunity for businesses looking to expand their reach and their revenues.

Geo-Targeting & Proximity Marketing are a Big Deal for Small Business

I have mentioned here before that small businesses in particular cannot afford to ignore mobile marketing and the enormous potential it has to reach consumers. Countless studies and surveys all point to the fact that consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices to access information and connect with others via the web. In fact, according to a recent Statista report, by 2017, over 63% of mobile phone users will be accessing the Internet through their mobile phones.

These devices are also playing an increasingly prominent role in the purchasing process. U.S. mobile commerce sales via smartphones and tablet computers are projected to surpass $142 billion dollars in 2016.

As consumers have become more confident and comfortable with their mobile devices there has been a rapid development of marketing techniques and tools directed at attracting the attention and purchasing dollars of mobile device users. While it is safe to say that the field of mobile marketing was in its infancy 5 years ago, today we are beginning to see some signs of maturity. Numerous low-cost, easy-to-use tools and platforms are springing up, making mobile marketing doable and approachable. Even social media giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been scrambling to incorporate mobile marketing and commerce into their feature set.

Mobile is currently the fastest growing segment of digital advertising in the US. Research conducted by Business Insider has found that spending for mobile advertising will surpass $42 billion by 2018.

Why Geo-Targeting and Proximity Marketing are Important

All of this is good news for small business owners working with limited marketing budgets. With mobile marketing it is easier to ensure that marketing dollars are being directed at the right people and at the right times. Herein lies the greatest key to success. On mobile, the marketing race will be won by the businesses that truly understand their customer base and their purchasing habits.

If you are just getting started with mobile marketing then there are two key concepts that you need to be aware of:

The first is geo ad targeting. In the most basic sense geo targeting involves determining the geographic location of a mobile user and delivering customized content to that user. Location targeting helps you focus your marketing efforts on the places where you will find the right customers, while at the same time restricting it in locations that are not relevant. You can specify a location to target based on the user’s country, region, city, zip code, organization, IP address, or ISP, among other criteria.

One popular area where geo ad targeting is taking off is pay per click advertising. These ads appear only to users who live in selected locations and are doing location-specific keyword searches. Google’s AdWords location targeting, for example, gives advertisers the ability to choose in which geographic locations their ads will appear. So, people who do a search for “coffee shop Boston free WiFi,” will see PPC ads in their search results for relevant local cafes and shops. Another example, a person living in Dallas, TX doing a search for “music lessons guitar,” may see ads for locally based music teachers and schools offering music courses.

The second technology that small businesses should be paying attention to is proximity marketing. Proximity marketing uses Bluetooth or WiFi technology to send real-time marketing messages to mobile-device users who are in close vicinity to a business.

In other words, with proximity marketing you can reach the right person with the right message at the right time. So, if you own a cafe, you could send a promotional message or coupon to a customer who happens to be near the location of your store during the lunch hours.

The benefits to both approaches in terms of ROI is self-evident. But more than this, mobile marketing enables a more intimate form of advertising that can not only generate more sales, but also more loyal customers. And, that’s something all small businesses can use.

5 Social Commerce Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

While social media may currently be driving only a small percentage of online retail sales, all indications suggest that these channels will continue to expand in the future. In fact, social-driven retail sales and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other forms of eCommerce.

According to the Business Insider Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500 report, the top 500 retailers earned a total of $3.3 billion from social commerce in 2014. That represents a 26% increase from 2013. The overall growth rate for eCommerce in the US, however, only rose by about 16%. Moreover, between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015, social platforms increased the number of eCommerce referrals by almost 200%.  Analysts are predicting an even greater surge in social commerce in 2016.

As I mentioned in my previous post, a number of major social networks including, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, have all recently introduced “buy” or “shop now” buttons to their platforms. The goal behind this move has been to significantly simplify and streamline the purchasing process from these networks.

Aside from direct commerce, social networks are also being used to engage consumers in the beginning stages of the purchasing process. In this case, strategies are designed to bring highly targeted traffic from social media to retailers’ websites and mobile apps.

In this eCommerce landscape, here are five of the most significant social commerce trends to watch out for in 2016:

1. Increased spending in mobile advertising. Now that the biggest social networks have all jumped into the mobile commerce fray, and the media has been generating plenty of hype around it, we can expect more businesses to pump money and other resources into their social commerce efforts. Jumping in feet first is not necessarily a good thing, though. If you are running a small business with limited marketing dollars, then it definitely pays to research the most effective platforms and strategies before committing to any one promotion.

2. More integration between online and off-line, in-store experience. Perhaps one of the coolest things about social commerce, is that it allows retailers to merge the online and off-line shopping experience. Some examples of this in action include:

  • Offering product-specific, in-store discounts to customers while they are standing in the store and researching these products via their mobile phones.
  • Allowing customers to create a “favorite product” list of items they may want to purchase in the future
  • Offering customers recommendations for products that compliment what they are purchasing

3. Re-aligning the business around omni-channel experiences. This is not just about revamping marketing, but restructuring the business to have the flexibility to respond to changes in consumer behavior and preferences. This means a few things. First, you may have to re-organize your operational teams internally to maximize your business’ ability to recognize and respond to customer buying habits. Then, you should take advantage of the fact that people are often researching products on their mobile devices before they come into a store. This means your mobile and social presence are essentially the digital entrances to your physical store.

4. Greater reliance on local targeting. Social and mobile commerce often revolves around instant, real-time impressions and decisions. You want to make sure your business and its products are properly positioned at the time when your potential customers need them the most. So, locally-based mobile searches for the products you carry, for example, could trigger a targeted ad offering a promotion on those products.

5. Making intimate, data driven decisions. While big data has been a buzz word for some time now, the goal for business owners is to understand in a more “intimate” way what makes their customers tick. How do customers make decisions, where are they going for answers, and what are they feeling as they are doing it? As consumer attention is increasingly drawn to mobile devices and social media platforms, the vast amounts of audience data and information available can be used to give businesses a leg up on their competitors.

In short, social commerce, like mobile commerce, is set for explosive growth over the next few years, and businesses need to make sure that they are ready for it. Their customers already are.

(Image Credit)