Two things might surprise you about mobile apps. The first is how variably useful they can be. The second is how many companies — even major companies — haven’t built a mobile app yet or haven’t added basic functionality or customer-requested features.
The truth is, it’s probably time to stop thinking about mobile apps as things we have to “deal with” and think of them instead as blank creative canvases. For the B2B company, mobile apps can be an especially appealing way to put your best foot forward and offer a set of tools useful in the real world for the people you’re trying to reach, retain, entertain, upsell to, convert or just stay in touch with.
1. Ready Access to Reference Materials and FAQs
B2B businesses are like any other business in many ways, one of which is that they have to process calls and inquiries from customers and clients at, potentially, any hour of the day or night. Maybe it’s to find up-to-date information about your company itself or to learn how to troubleshoot the products you offer. Your customers will appreciate the convenience of accessing technical manuals, FAQs and other reference materials in a format that’s already familiar to them: their smartphone.
Your smartphone app can provide PDFs, keynote presentations, guidebooks, product brochures, industry infographics, videos and a host other references your clients might want in the palm of their hand.
2. More Organized and Convenient Training and Staff Interactions
It’s very common for companies of all sizes to inundate new hires with packets full of hard-copied employee manuals and perhaps building and network passwords. Plus, there are the welcome emails, links, cloud-stored documents and all of the other day-one and ongoing reference materials and company assets.
What if new hires could install an app instead? It’s not remotely far-fetched. Consider the benefits of using the app to exchange onboarding paperwork far more fluidly, as well as store training materials, additional reading and access to the company directory and calendar of events and leaderboards. If there’s really “an app for that,” then one of the “that”s must be an app for getting employees acclimated to company culture.
3. A More Streamlined Shopping and Checkout Process
Naturally, one of the best ways to turn your mobile app into a potential sales funnel is to either build a marketplace into it or to use your app as a more mobile-friendly, visually appealing storefront for all of — or perhaps even just the most mission-critical — products and services you offer.
The alternative, as any shopper knows, whether you represent a company or just yourself, is to perform first-time or recurring purchases on a desktop PC or a laptop. It makes good sense to assume your existing customers as well as new ones — even those who performed “impulse downloads” of your app from the App Store — are comfortable by now, and likely even prefer, conducting purchases using their smartphones.
Research confirms this assumption: forecasts indicate that a majority of purchases made this holiday season are likely to happen on mobile devices. Moreover, it’s estimated that 28 percent of millennials have a moderate or significant impact on B2B purchasing decisions at their workplaces.
So? The shoppers that B2C and B2B companies are courting with their mobile and web apps these days aren’t just moms and grandmas looking for stocking stuffers. It’s also business representatives of all stripes looking to stock up on the things they need to keep their own companies running, or looking around for service providers with a strong digital presence.
4. Loyalty Programs and Crowd-Sourced Marketing Potential
If you build it well, your app can provide a streamlined and appealing shopping experience that cuts through the online clutter of larger marketplaces and could even deliver notices of promotions or order shipments if you take advantage of push notifications.
Another thing worth considering is putting loyalty programs into the palm of your customers’ hands. Even B2B companies might find creative ways to encourage repeat and ongoing business. Another idea, or potentially something you can combine with a loyalty program, is rewarding your customers for submitting feedback and reviews from within the app — or having them send in marketing-campaign-ready snapshots or videos of their company or their end-users using the products or services you offer.
The point of all this is that there are many ways to use mobile apps you haven’t thought of yet. For some companies, they’re a great way to complement the services and information you already offer on your website. Other companies build apps that offer functionality that’s just not possible in a desktop environment or wrap their company and its services in a more palm-sized, more visually appealing package that’s more convenient to use. More importantly, these apps are always “on” and always out in the field with the business owners you’re trying to reach.