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We live in an era of mobile apps. Hundreds of thousands of mobile apps have been created in the last few years. Since 2010 more than 50 percent of all Internet access has been done been via mobile devices. About 45 percent of mobile owners are using their devices to download social networking apps. These rapid shifts are creating great opportunities for businesses to make their presence known and take advantage of this massive social shift.

Here are 10 reasons why your business should get involved in developing mobile apps:

1. Anywhere, Anytime
We are attached to our mobile devices at the hips, palms, and fingertips. We are never without our phones and we love using them everywhere from waiting for the bus or when our date goes to the bathroom (they’re probably using their phone in the bathroom too). We love the ability to share whenever we have a free second, and mobile devices allow us to be social from anywhere at anytime.

By having a mobile app, businesses get placed in the consumer’s pocket and are with them all the time. Adding social share buttons inside the app makes it convenient for people to share with their friends any interaction they have with a brand whenever they want. Being with the customer 24/7 is an opportunity businesses shouldn’t pass up.

2. Fast, Simple, & Easy
TAP. The picture of your daughter walking for the first time, that cool music video, great meal you just ate, or high score has now been shared. Sharing via mobile apps is fast, and easily done with one tap of a button. Through a mobile app, businesses can easily customize tweets and shares to make it even easier for people to quickly tell the world about what they are doing with a single tap.

The easier it is for people to share the more sharing that will happen. Mobile apps offer an easy and fast way for consumers to share with their friends. Just as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to reach out to people, getting people to actively post to social sites about your business via your mobile app can drive consumer engagement to another level. Mobile apps make it incredibly easy to increase social interactions and mentions between the consumer and business.

3. Every Mobile App Can Be Its Own Social Platform
Integrating social features into your app like comments, likes, or even in-app messaging that connect people to other people using the app will turn your app into a social platform. By having social features inside an app, people will spend more time in the app. Apps using Facebook login to facilitate social interactions have already shown an increase in engagement, retention, and monetization. Harnessing social features in-app to connect consumers to their peers is part of the future of social. Imagine wanting to buy a new pair of pants, but not being sure of the size and fit. There are reviews, but none of them provide the information you need. With in-app social capabilities, you are able to contact one of the reviewers through the app to gain more information and perspective from them. Businesses that facilitate in-app social interactions between consumers will be pioneering the combination of mobile and social and consumers will choose those brands over others.

Social media is more than just about letting costumers talk about a business. It is about connecting with the business as well. One of the best tools a business has for getting feedback about its products and services is through social media. Having a mobile app makes it easy for businesses and consumers to interact anywhere and anytime.

Taking advantage of social interactions used to be difficult and confusing for businesses. With the rise of mobile apps, businesses are now able to take more control of social media through their own apps. Mobile devices are the perfect medium for social media. By utilizing social media with a mobile app for your company, you will be interacting with your customers in a whole new way. Social is key to the future of customer relationships and the future of social is all about being mobile.

4. Responsive Websites
Several companies have a subdomain set up specifically for mobile phones. So, for example, when users type www.ESPN.com into a smartphone, the ESPN site actually figures out that they are visiting the site from a mobile device and redirects them to a subdomain. The user experience from the phone is different than the user experience at a computer. Diane Irvine, CEO of Seattle-based jewelry site Blue Nile, realized the importance of mobile delivery when her site made a $40,000 diamond sale via a mobile device in 2009. She soon learned that she needed to make her site more mobile-friendly for iPhone users. Last year, she introduced a mobile version of the Blue Nile site. Since the launch, Irvine says, “More than 20 percent of our shoppers are using the mobile site.” The reason being is that it gives people the flexibility to shop wherever they are. “This will become the future of shopping,” she adds.

5. Mobile Apps
There are now numerous mobile apps serving up informative tips, educational bits, or pure entertainment or gaming. Many companies are using mobile apps to boost brand awareness and affinity. Your business can, too. But you must have a thorough understanding of your audience. The best way to use apps is to create something that is both useful and valuable. More importantly, it should be functional. GateGuru is an app that is centered on location awareness, which airport retailers advertise on to drive users into stores, while Nestlé Purina’s app provide a database of pet-friendly places around the country. Other apps make it easy to make purchases with a few clicks. For example, the ShopRite app allows customers to view and add weekly sales items to their shopping lists. And Starbucks’ mobile app lets people make transactions directly with the wave of their smartphones, helping to drive sales.

6. Monetize Mobile Apps
Consider offering a free version of your app and then let users decide whether or not they are willing invest in a premium version with more features and content. Take for example the widely popular Angry Birds iPhone game. Its ongoing promotion was to offer a free version, while paid subscribers were given access to more challenging levels and other free add-ons.

7. Mobile Coupons
A growing number of companies deliver coupons via mobile devices in an effort to appeal to consumers, many of whom would never think of clipping or carrying coupons. Sign up for Target’s mobile coupons and you’ll get money-saving offers on items delivered via text message to your Web-enabled phone with a link to a barcode and discount offers. To redeem, simply show your coupon bar codes to the cashier, who will scan them like a regular coupon. Bath and Body Works, Sephora, JCPenney, Kohl’s, and Olive Garden also offer mobile coupons.

8. Location-based Services

Location-based shopping coupons using mobile devices are gaining popularity. As mobile users become more acclimated to sharing their whereabouts via mobile devices, they’re also are becoming more open to receiving ads and mobile coupons relevant to where they are at the moment, according to findings from JiWire’s Mobile Audience Insights Report. In fact, more than 50 percent of respondents indicated that they wanted to receive location-specific advertising, with mobile coupons a more appealing incentive than check-ins. GPS and applications such as Google Maps ranked highest followed by Yelp, Facebook and Foursquare.

9. Mobile Campaigns and Ads

Mobile marketing presents a distinct and unique way to create interactive dialogues with customers. Mobile marketing requires matching the creative to the device’s smaller screen size; designing messages that are short, instantly understood, and effective; and creating a call for action with minimal steps. Research indicates that mobile ads perform about five times better than Internet ads. The most common mobile ads are simple text links and display adds that are sold based on cost per clicks, cost per acquisition and cost per thousand. These ads are much like the paid search campaigns on Google, Bing or Yahoo! Use mobile marketing solutions to drive participation at exhibitions or to drive traffic to retail environments. If you have two seats left for a workshop or an event, you can send a message offering a discount. Make offers that are in tuned with the buying habits of the recipient.

10. Building brand loyalty

The ability to keep the customer engaged and updated to various business events and activities is an important component to building loyalty in the long run. Brand loyalty can be developed by giving customer coupons through mobile devices in the form of QR codes for checking in at your business, or coupons can be unlocked based on specific conditions. Through keeping the customer current, engaged and interacting with your business, they will form an attachment, which will pay off generously as the business grows.