Even if you’re a small business owner with a limited budget, you can develop an app that will attract customers and make you stand out in the overcrowded market.
This guide explores app development for small businesses, including the best tips for app development, the cost, must-have features, and the benefits for your company. We'll also introduce you to the top agencies to help bring your vision to life in 2023.
Table of Contents
- What Is App Development for a Small Business?
- Tips for Small Business Mobile App Development
- Top Features To Include in Your Small Business Mobile App
- Benefits of Small Business App Development
- Top Agencies That Develop Apps For Small Businesses in 2023
- App Development for Small Business Takeaways
- App Development for Small Business FAQs
What Is App Development for a Small Business?
App development for a small business refers to designing a mobile application that meets a small business's unique needs and goals. The process involves all development stages — designing, building, testing, and launching.
App development for small businesses can help increase customer engagement, loyalty, and sales, streamline internal processes, and improve overall efficiency.
Tips for Small Business Mobile App Development
Here are the best practices when undertaking mobile app development for a small business:
- Do Extensive Research
- Identify Your Target Audience
- Pay Attention To Attractive App Design
- Create a Minimum-value Product
- Hire the Right Mobile App Development Company
- Test the App Before Launching It
- Ensure the App Is Fast and Responsive
- Optimize the App for the App Store
- Ensure the App Contributes to Your Overall Branding
- Decide on Your App Pricing
1. Do Extensive Research
You need to understand how small business app development can benefit your company and help optimize your processes and operations. These considerations will help you identify potential errors and flaws and avoid them before they spoil UX or damage the app's functionality.
Know the ins and outs of your business and its changing demands. Perform an in-depth analysis of your target market and competitors. You will develop better original app ideas with unique selling points when you evaluate where your business stands in your niche or industry.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Finding your target audience can be challenging, especially if you’re running a small or new business. However, building a mobile app becomes a lot easier once you know what target audience you want to reach.
The audience you’re aiming at is probably already using your competitors' apps; the first step to identifying them is to research your rival's app. The next step is to attract them to your side.
To attract your target audience, you must understand their needs and pain points. Carefully review customer feedback on your competitor's App Store or Google Play Store page to find out what features they like and include them in your app.
Determine whether they primarily use Android, iOS, or both; develop an app for a suitable platform. Find out what social media platform they spend the most of their time on and advertise your app there.
3. Pay Attention To Attractive App Design
When developing customized mobile apps, you should dedicate the same amount of attention to their functionalities and visual appearance — aka design.
Poor design and overly complex navigation can turn users away, looking for a simpler and more satisfying experience. People don't have much patience, so your app needs to be pleasant and valuable from the moment they start using it.
While it's essential to make your app look nice, having too many complicated features can make it hard for people to use the app. Instead, the team responsible for developing and designing the app should focus on creating a great user experience that's easy to navigate.
Use the latest design trends to ensure your app is easy to use with just a few clicks. Pick designs and animations that fit your industry, and make them personal to your target audience with customized designs and chat boxes.
4. Create a Minimum-value Product
The cost of a small business mobile app development process varies according to its complexity. A simple small business mobile app can cost between $12,960 and $30,240, whereas an advanced application with cutting-edge features can cost up to $82,080.
As a result, developing a minimum viable product (MVP) first is a logical and advisable strategy that allows you to introduce your mobile app and test how it can benefit you. This will enable you to collect user feedback early in the product development cycle. Hence, you can save money while prioritizing UX and without sacrificing high quality.
5. Hire the Right Mobile App Development Company
Find the best mobile app development company for your project. Your expert team should bring the necessary skills and tools to implement ideas and meet the requirements for your final product.
Choosing the one with the specialized expertise you need, whether it's an iOS or Android app development agency, is ideal. Either way, your development team should conceptualize, build and deploy the mobile application you imagined. They should support you from the beginning of the project to the end of app maintenance.
6. Test the App Before Launching It
Be sure to thoroughly test your app before making it available to the end users. Testing the app internally before releasing it to the public can help your development team find and fix problems before the customers experience them (and decide your app is not worth their time or money).
You don't want people to leave negative comments about the app's poor performance, which can hurt your business's reputation and growth. Assigning software testing to team members who understand how the app works and what it is supposed to do is a good idea. Give them the necessary tools to test the app.
When you're ready to distribute beta versions to customers for testing, make sure you have a customer support team ready to answer any questions or resolve any issues they may have.
7. Ensure the App Is Fast and Responsive
The 50% churn rate for mobile app subscribers indicates a high rate of user abandonment, according to Gitnux. This could mean low user engagement or unattractive features.
The app should download quickly and easily. Apps with too many features can be bulky and take longer to download, which frustrates users.
To prevent this, include only the necessary features and make sure the user interface is smooth because bugs and unpolished interfaces can cause delays when launching the app.
8. Optimize the App for the App Store
Launch your small business mobile app on multiple app stores (Apple App Store and Google Play Store) to make it stand out and get many downloads.
This way, you will increase its visibility and attract more customers, boosting your business's growth and giving you a competitive advantage over other apps in the market.
To optimize your app for app stores, use keywords your target audience uses in their queries to improve visibility and increase downloads. Choosing attractive icons and animations will make your mobile app visually attractive and increases your chances for desired results.
9. Ensure the App Contributes to Your Overall Branding
Your mobile app can increase brand awareness and help build a customer base, ensuring it fits your overall marketing strategy.
Use the same branding elements you use on your website and social media platforms. Choose a unique and memorable name and icon for your app.
If app users mix up your mobile app with another similar one, that can negatively affect your brand, which could be perceived as plagiarism.
10. Decide on Your App Pricing
Once you own a mobile app, before launching it, you need to decide on its pricing, which can be crucial for mobile app success.
When it comes to monetizing your efforts, you have three mobile apps pricing models available:
- Free apps are a great way to maximize the number of downloads. These are popular among smartphone users, but if you’re a small business that invested significant money in app development, you will need a way gain a to return on investment. Therefore, this pricing model may not be the best choice.
- Freemium apps are the most popular pricing model. It offers an app with basic features free of charge, while users have to pay for a premium version with advanced features.
- Paid apps are highly profitable but can be risky for less-known brands, as most small businesses are. Users mostly opt for freemium apps, which provide more financial flexibility. However, paid apps are still an excellent solution for established brands, such as Netflix.
So, which pricing model should a small business choose? Considering the merits, freemium apps offer the best ROI possibilities for small businesses.
Top Features To Include in Your Small Business Mobile App
Consider including these popular features in your app:
- Virtual reality (VR)
- Push notifications
- Loyalty program
- Map and geolocation integration
- Online shopping cart with easy checkout and multiple online payment options
- Social media account integration
- Automatic updates
- Device sync
- One-click login page with fingerprint recognition option
- “About Us” page
- Contact form
- Live customer support chat
- Product and service listings complete with descriptions and variations
- Pricing page
- Scheduling page
Benefits of Small Business App Development
Once you have your goals and features figured out, you can proceed to build your small business mobile app and market it. Here are the advantages of having a mobile app for your brand:
- Sales Boost
- Brand Recognition
- Increased Digital Visibility
- Larger Market Reach
- More Profitable Opportunities
- Improved Client Journey
- Customer Loyalty
- Data and Metrics Analysis
- Direct Sales Channels
1. Sales Boost
Small businesses that venture into app development experience substantial sales increases. Having a mobile app can help you gain higher profits from online orders owing to the convenient and intuitive nature of the tool.
It makes payment and receipt of orders easier for consumers.
2. Brand Recognition
App development for a small business assists with your branding initiatives. It builds a platform that is an extension of your brand, enabling it to carve its niche on the market and create value in your customers’ lives.
With a mobile application, you build an image for your business, fortify your credibility, and give your company a significant competitive edge in the industry.
3. Increased Digital Visibility
Small business app development can help foster your digital presence. Having a mobile application places you in a more visible position on the internet and helps represent your brand in the expansive digital space.
It will keep your brand’s constant presence on user screens. While it may only be a reminder that your business exists, it is an excellent touchpoint for a successful conversion in the future.
Collaborating with top-rated IT services providers can also ensure your app is optimized for search engines, increasing your business's digital visibility even further.
4. Larger Market Reach
Mobile apps help you reach a wider audience. You can introduce your business to more customers as your application increases its users.
Business of Apps found that there are almost 90 billion annual app downloads worldwide, so you have the potential to go global and expand your market choice.
5. More Profitable Opportunities
Earn additional revenues through these mobile app monetization methods:
- Freemium scheme
- In-app purchases
- Premium application upgrades to remove ads
- Affiliate marketing programs
- Loyalty rewards and vouchers
Small business app development can help evoke a sense of belongingness and community among your customers. Building a small business mobile app can make them feel special and treated personally.
These customization features make your app intuitive and accessible and contribute to a wonderful user experience:
- Easy setup and settings functionality
- Wish lists
- Progressive loyalty and VIP programs
- Content suggestions based on a particular user’s interests
- Recommended services and products according to user data
- Social media accounts integration
- Personalized user avatars
7. Improved Client Journey
Cut your customer’s waiting time through your small business mobile app. They can explore your menus and place orders at their most convenient time. It will allow you to respond to them promptly when they have queries or requests.
These functionalities enable a better customer experience:
- Goods and services categorization
- Filtering system
- Sorting button
- Physical store maps and locations with navigation system integration
- In-store experience enhancements, such as the use of app QR codes for instant checkout
8. Customer Loyalty
You can add gamification features to your app development for a small business. They are practical tools that encourage brand loyalty and help turn occasional visitors into regular customers.
These can keep them engaged and motivate them to subscribe to your services or buy your products.
Here are the most popular gamification tactics:
- Points system: Users can receive points they can exchange for gifts, freebies, discounts, and other benefits in the future. They acquire these points depending on their purchase amounts or the actions they take on your small business mobile app.
- Tiers system: Concerning your points system, the tiers system will let users advance their customer level. It can be in a badge or medal format.
- Coupons or vouchers: Limited offers suggest urgency. These influence consumers to avail of lower prices, free delivery, or discount codes as soon as possible.
9. Data and Metrics Analysis
Another reason for small business app development is customer data collection.
Your application can help you gather statistics and information about your client base. You can later use these for making decisions based on data-driven insights.
The know-your-customer (KYC) concept and data analytics will let you know the areas you can improve on your mobile application. These will enrich your marketing programs, enhance UX, and increase your bottom line.
This is the most useful information you can get via your small business mobile app:
- The most popular products and services for your customer base
- App usage frequency
- Time and days when users are most active
- Behavioral patterns and common purchasing practices on your app
10. Direct Sales Channels
App development for a small business creates a platform where anyone can buy directly from your brand. This eliminates the need for a middleman because buyers instantly contact you.
Top Agencies That Develop Apps For Small Businesses in 2023
- Location: B9/402, Saumya Enclave, Dhruv Marg, Tilak Nagar, Jaipur, Jaipur, 302004, India
- Average Hourly Rate: $25/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, eCommerce Development, iPhone App Development, Website Development, etc.
SpaceRocket Creations provides solutions to all digital problems their clients may face, from website creation to SEO and digital marketing. They have been in the industry very long and have the know-how to bring out the best experience for their clients.
Their entire team of specialists has in-depth expertise in their areas, keeping updated on the latest trends and technologies so their clients can have a better experience.
- Location: 4th Floor, Vaswani Presidio, Panathur Main Rd, Kadubeesanahalli, Bengaluru, 560103, India
- Average Hourly Rate: $18/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, Product Design, eCommerce Development, Android App Development, etc.
Neetable is a web and mobile app development firm helping companies and established brands worldwide to build impactful digital engineering solutions. They work with Fortune 500 companies, SMEs, and startups to provide enterprise technology solutions and design products that provide lasting value to customers.
The agency has been an integral part of many web and mobile application projects for the healthcare sector, logistics, and others. It includes development work for enterprises, startups, and entrepreneurs spread across the USA, UK, Canada, UAE, Indonesia, and India.
- Location: Yaroslavska str. 58, Kyiv, 04071, Ukraine
- Average Hourly Rate: $35/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, Website Development, Web Design, Software Development, etc.
An award-winning web development agency, Seedium has a reputation for excellence in delivering services that range from simple to complex. These include website and landing page development, progressive web and mobile app development, custom web development solutions and integrations, and tech-side optimization and maintenance.
It boasts an impressive track record, with over 90% of startups it built recording significant cash flow and traction numbers. The company achieves this through a meticulous selection of top-tier app developers with solid business ethics. With its high standards and processes, Seedium has established a long-term trusting partnership with 70% of its clients.
- Location: Stefana Okrzei 1a/10, Warszawa, 03-711, Poland
- Average Hourly Rate: $35/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, Website Development, Software Development, Java Development, etc.
Modsen offers various software solutions on demand that provide clients with what they need to take their business to the next level.
Its combination of world-class experts and high-end technologies allows businesses to rise to the top of the competition. Modsen experts can integrate seamlessly with in-house teams, giving them the boost they need to increase motivation and productivity.
The company's vast portfolio includes solutions for the communication, real estate, transport, and online travel industries around the world.
5. Wild Web Art
- Location: Velyka Zhytomyrska, 4V, Kyiv, 01001, Ukraine
- Average Hourly Rate: $40/hr
- Expertise: Mobile App Development, Website Development, UI/UX, etc.
Wild Web Art's main value is being a reliable technical partner for their clients. Not only do they write code or create a design based on the clients' direct guidance, but they also help evaluate and then build their product from every angle, taking full ownership of it.
They are a product development studio that thrives on creating entire projects with its “turn-key” offering, a complete cycle discovery stage service, product\project management, UX\UI design, product development, and quality assurance (testing).
The agency works with businesses and startups around the globe, with its main customers currently from Canada, Kuwait, the USA, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
App Development for Small Business Takeaways
When you venture into app development for a small business, you have to consider the value it will offer people. Its success will largely depend on how suitable the small business mobile app is for your brand. Even for small businesses, partnering with an enterprise application development company can lead to the creation of powerful and tailored apps that drive growth and efficiency.
So, how would you know your company is ready for small business app development? It will be reasonable to invest in your app when you:
- Have established solid customer loyalty.
- Have an eCommerce website you want to support with a mobile application.
- Have the resources to build an app.
- Are confident the product idea will help with business efficiency and productivity.
App Development for Small Business FAQs
1. What are the key steps in app development?
The critical steps in app development are:
2. How much does it cost to build and maintain an app?
The price of building and maintaining an app varies, depending on its complexity and the developing team you choose.
The average developer’s hourly rate is $50, so a simple app could cost between $16.000 and $32.000.
The price of the medium-complex app goes up to $48.000, while complex apps can cost from $70.000 to a couple hundred dollars.
3. How does an app improve your current website?
Websites and apps differ regarding both purpose and performance. With their interactive and versatile features, apps can increase user engagement and improve user experience. While users passively browse websites, their attention is more focused on apps, which is why they engage users more.
Apps also improve the accessibility of your current website — with an Internet-connected mobile device, your app is available to users anytime and anywhere.
By offering users a simple and easy way to make purchases, apps increase sales and revenue while providing a competitive advantage over other websites without mobile apps.