Imagine having your own app. With your design, your own branding, customised features; everything exactly how you want it to suit your business. The perfect app for your perfect shop or restaurant. An app downloaded and raved about by every single of your customers. New customers finding you and running down your doors thanks to your app. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

More and more shops and restaurants are jumping on the band wagon, launching their own apps and pushing them on their customers through massive posters and social media campaigns. Some are successful – such as the Starbucks app, which usage has been consistently high, relatively so, since its launch in January 2012. If they can do it – why can’t everyone? Customers love apps, right?

Customers do love apps – but not unconditionally
Customers, smartphone-users, love functional apps. Apps that provides value over time are the apps likely to be kept. Most games, for example, have a short but intense lifespan. Remember Flappy Bird? Or 2048? Both huge successes for a few months, then users got bored with them. Next step – they get forgotten, removed to the desolate outskirts of your thumb’s reach and eventually deleted to make room for the next hot app.

At the end of the day, if an app isn’t used, it holds no real value for a user; it only takes up space. So even if your initial push goes well and users download it, it does not mean you are guaranteed regular usage.

Branded apps often fill a fluctuating need – the need for a mobile optimised information source or the want for a discount. Most customers – we hate to break it to you – are not that involved with your brand. They will love the discounts or the vouchers, but once they have flashed their code and paid their discounted bill, the app has little use. And without use there’s little value.

Consumers are becoming increasingly mobile
Getting on mobile is the way to reach consumers. But spending time and money developing and marketing your own app may prove an expensive failure for many SMEs – the competition is simply too fierce.

If you have your own brand – start with an unbranded app. There are a number out there which offer all the functionality and tech you could want with none of the hassle of managing it yourself; Loyalzoo is one of them. You get to set it up exactly how you want, customise it to suit your business needs and your customers – just like having your own app. An unbranded app is desirable for the customer as it means the same app can be used for several different places, from their morning coffee stop to their monthly haircut or fortnightly manicure. For the merchant, it means their business is made visible to anyone in the area using the app. Unlike white-labeled apps, which directly compete for customers attention, Loyalzoo and the like strengthen each other by sharing visibility and customers.

To succeed with an app – add value linked to usage
By adding value linked to usage you stand a far greater chance of having your customers use your app. That could mean a loyalty program, where each visit gives the customer a point, redeemable against discounts or items from your shop. The perceived value of this far exceeds the cost – making your customers feel appreciated and incentivises them both to use the app and to visit your shop more often than they would have, without the added value of a loyalty program.

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