Can you be a market leader without a mobile app?

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal

The answer is: Maybe today, but probably not in 2016. The waves of change are lapping against the accepted tenets of research, marketing and advertising at hurricane speed.

Leaders have to stay ahead of the tsunami of competition, which has (and will) come down with a vengeance on sleeping industry giants. While mobile websites are an excellent starting point, today 89 percent of mobile traffic is occurring via apps, and only 11 percent via the mobile web, therefore not having a native app puts your business at a distinct disadvantage.

The mobile app is not just an add-on marketing channel, as it has been treated by some organizations, it has tremendous power to become a strategic link between the company and the customer as never before. And the more useful the app, the more incorporated into the customer’s daily or weekly experience, the more integrated with customer service, the more interactions, and therefore the stronger relationship with the customer.

And if, like most companies, your organization is targeting millennials, you know that this group, which will be 75 percent of the workforce in the next decade, would rather lose their wallets than their mobile device upon which your mobile app can reside.

Mobile apps transform ‘click’ to ‘touch’

While online customers are used to “clicking” for the information they seek, customers “touching” on a mobile app give the organization not only a means to serve the customer, but also information on how the customer wants to interact.

Mobile app downloads (or “touches”) have reached a staggering 2 billion a week, with each download offering more information about the user. With these key insights, organizations become smarter and understand how to better communicate with the user and deliver more meaningful content. It’s a win-win for everyone!

The telephone customer service alternative

Strategically incorporating customer service into an organization’s app is one way to get in front of the wave of change.

It has been estimated that digital customer service will increase nearly 90 percent in customer contact centers by 2016, and telephone interactions may be down over 40 percent in the same time period.

Obvious customer service opportunities are order tracking, order history and push notification opt-ins, but the information offered by the mobile app itself can lead your organization into some unique thinking about your customers’ needs and more sticky features in the app.

Mobile metrics enhance monetization strategies

The waves of mobile innovation keep rolling in. Google AdWords just announced new mobile call-only ad campaigns. Instead of a link to a website, the ads feature only a call button, company description and phone number. Google introduced this as a result of research that showed 70 percent of mobile searches for a company lead to a call. With these call-only ads, the click you pay for is an actual live contact.

Mobile interactions with customers lead to individualized service that improves your organization’s chances of “making hay while the sun shines,” as we used to say in Iowa. And mobile metrics can improve your timing of messaging, help you grow and expand your product and/or service offerings, cement your customer relationships and decrease the competitive churn that hurts bottom-line results.

Strategically planned, mobile apps can enhance your market leadership as they garner further customer relationships and keep the hungry competition at bay.