A higher number of small businesses owned by millennials are more likely to build a mobile app to help grow their businesses than other generations.
A new survey by Washington, D.C.-based ratings and review firm Clutch shows that 55% of millennial-owned businesses have a mobile app, versus 42% of small businesses owned by Gen Xers and 13% owned by baby boomers.
Clutch’s 2018 Small Business Survey sampled 351 small business owners and managers to learn how small businesses are building and using mobile apps. Clutch asked small business owners which mobile features are most valuable to help support their businesses and goals they had in mind in building the mobile apps.
Small businesses surveyed have between 1 and 500 employees, with 55% reporting they have 10 or fewer employees. Roughly 57% reported annual revenue of less than $1 million.
The findings with millennials did not surprise Peter Mezyk, the chief operating officer of Nomtek, a mobile app design and development firm. “By definition, [mobile apps] come more naturally to the people who were immersed in this since they were born,” he said.
As such, the trend suggests that small business apps will be more acceptable in the future.
“This is something that will gradually move up across the demographics,” Mezyk stated. “Even people now in their 50s are much more digitally aware than 10 years ago.”
Another expert, Woody Zantzinger, vice president of business development at WillowTree, Inc., a mobile app development firm, says that the data shows a greater difference in how millennials are using the software in situations that previously required human interaction.
“Millennials are trusting software to solve problems that historically people didn’t want to trust software to solve,” stated Zantzinger. “Like using OpenTable [to make a restaurant reservation]–they don’t want to call the restaurant. They want to do it via software.”
“People don’t want to call their insurance agent,” he added, “They just want to take a picture of their crash with their phone and send it off and fill out a form and be done.”
Some examples of black millennial entrepreneurs who have built their businesses and brands around a mobile app include:
- Darren Harris and Quincy Ewell, co-founders of PANN, an app that crowdsources black news.
- Ofo Ezeugwu, founder and CEO of Whose Your Landlord, an app that lets you search for available apartments or read landlord reviews
- Herb Coakley, founder and CEO of Mystro, a ridesharing app that makes on-demand drivers more money than Lyft or Uber.
Simultaneously, small business owners need to ask themselves if they should invest in a mobile app. Mobile apps can boost customer loyalty, brand image, and employee efficiency, experts say.
Yet, to help determine if a mobile app will be successful, small business owners need to fully understand the app’s goals, its target audience, and the resources needed to build and keep it. Small businesses must make sure they are building a mobile app for the right reasons.
Nearly 30% of small businesses surveyed reported they mainly built a mobile app to attract new customers. However, experts say this objective is deluded since most customers don’t browse for apps but seek them out for a particular purpose.” The more rigorously you assess whether to invest or not to invest in a mobile app, the better,” Mezyk says. He offered these insights to help entrepreneurs determine if they need an app:
-Reflect on your customer journey and identify current touch points with them that can be enhanced by a mobile app. A touch point is any moment when you communicate and exchange information with your customers.
– Assess whether a mobile app will truly impact your business. A successful mobile app must have clear goals, such as boosting sales or building customer loyalty.
– Set specific metrics tied to your goals and determine what qualifies as success. For instance, how many customers will redeem a coupon after you send out a push notification? How many will sign up for your email newsletter via your app? Answering these questions will help you evaluate whether your app is effective.
-Deploy the simplest and cheapest version of the app first.
-If the simple version of the app is on track to meet your success criteria, keep developing it.