What is one of the most common questions that pop up in B2B? Should a startup invest in building a mobile app or should they restrict themselves to a mobile-optimized site?
There are a lot of moving pieces here, and to be frank, this is a tough question to answer.
Building a mobile app requires time and expertise—two resources that are often high-value in early-stage B2B startups. As such, spending a major chunk of an already feeble marketing budget on an expensive app build may not seem like a prudent undertaking for a bootstrapped startup.
When compared, the dynamics are different for more established B2B startups. Gone are the days when not having a mobile app was OK.
Because in order to gain new customers and engage their existing ones, B2B startups have to be bold in their approach.
Offering a mobile app is just one of the many ways to do so. A mobile app in B2C is a given, but for B2B startups it serves a bigger purpose. A B2B mobile app simplifies the purchase process, helps boost customer service, and helps elevate brand recall.
This is a clear indication that while other B2B trends may fade, the demand for mobile apps continues to grow.
Startups should not build a mobile app just because it’s popular. Building an app is not something that can be done overnight, and companies need to understand exactly why a mobile app is the right path for their business before taking the plunge.
Here are five reasons why more B2B startups are adding mobile apps to their offering and why it should be a priority for your startup in 2019 too.
It is clear that the B2B market has evolved dramatically. One of the most surprising changes has been the shift in the age of business decision makers. A big chunk of these decision makers are in the age bracket of 18-32 yrs.
Clearly, B2B decisions are primarily driven by millennials. This generation is hands-on with technology, shifting from one app to the next without batting an eye. Mobile apps are part of the fabric of their day-to-day lives; they use apps to navigate, shop, make appointments and a whole lot more.
When using apps for shopping and other everyday tasks, these millennial customers are accustomed to the speed, intuitiveness, and personalization—a superior mobile experience all-around. Naturally, they want the same seamless experience when making business purchases or interacting with vendors.
Perfecting the user experience is an uphill task for mobile-responsive websites. Think of all the times when long scrolling menus, challenging navigation, compromised usability, and poor site search spoiled the whole experience for you.
Besides, native and hybrid apps are gaining favor among millennials. Mobile apps resonate with them, and 58 percent of prefer a mobile app over a mobile site for making purchases.
The truth is that given the longer B2B purchase cycle, today’s decision-makers may begin their search on a mobile website, but make their purchase via an app. B2B startups should have that option ready and available for them.
Today’s executives have a demanding work life, often completing a large part of their work on the go—during their commute, at home or even on vacation.
B2B startups that have launched mobile apps are already reaping the benefits of this shift in the way people work. A mobile platform makes it easier for B2B customers to interact with your business as well as with their own customers. Take Intercom, for example, whose mobile communication app allows B2B customers to respond to their users, identify leads and collaborate with their teams.
The statistics don’t lie: Demand for mobile in the B2B workspace is heating up.
A survey by IDG reveals that most senior executives use their smartphones for business, with 77 percent reporting that they use their smartphones specifically to research products or services for their business. Half of those have gone on to make an IT purchase for their business on mobile.
That’s a huge volume of business via mobile!
But a mobile-optimized website can facilitate the same kinds of transactions, so why develop an app?
Because in-app engagement is on the rise. Nielsen reports that the average consumer spends nearly three hours per day within apps. More recent research reveals that people spend 90 percent of their smartphone time on mobile apps and only 10 percent browsing the internet. Between apps and mobile sites, users have a clear preference.
A recent study by Google should make B2B startups sit up and re-examine their mobile strategy. The Google team studied 17,000 brand experiences, specifically analyzing how people value such experiences and how those experiences translate into brand equity.
“When people have a negative brand experience on mobile, they are over 60 percent less likely to purchase from that brand in the future.”
While mobile websites can be effective (if done well, that is) when it comes to increasing brand visibility and offering a positive, memorable experience, mobile apps work like a charm for a couple of reasons:
Because of the greater flexibility and control that apps offer, they continue to be a central pillar of any mobile growth strategy.
Engagement and retention go hand in hand. For B2B startups, mobile apps provide a great platform to boost these numbers.
B2B startups can take advantage of mobile app marketing techniques such as rich push notifications and location-based messaging to drive conversions, and better connect with their audience through personalization and advanced user segmentation.
By adding mobile apps to the mix, B2B startups can accelerate customer growth and increase customer loyalty for their products and services.
The trend line is obvious: A mobile app is no longer “nice to have” but a necessity.
Even when B2B startups see the need, they may still be hesitant to commit the time and money—and that’s OK. But eventually, B2B companies will have to take the first step toward mobile because it’s a step toward long-term growth.
We’re just days into 2019, and it’s a natural time to revisit your marketing strategy and gear up to make a mobile app part of your overall offering. In the fast-moving world of technology, you act quickly and make the adjustments later.
Are you a B2B startup? Have you considered launching a mobile app for your business? We’d love to know in the comments below.
Bill Wilson is the Founder of the mobile design and development studio MindSea, where he helps brands go mobile through creative mobile app solutions. Over the years, he’s been a mentor to many entrepreneurs and a guest lecturer at universities discussing the power of mobile.