More than half (55%) of millennial-owned businesses have a mobile app, compared with 13% of small businesses owned by baby boomers, according to a new survey by B2B ratings and review firm Clutch. The company surveyed 351 businesses, 57% of which reported annual sales of less than $1 million.
The percentage of small businesses with an app held steady this year at 42%, little changed from 2017, when another 25% of businesses planned to build an app. About 30% of small businesses surveyed said they built a mobile app primarily to find new customers.
Small businesses said that mobile payment is the most valuable feature on their apps (26%), followed by social media integration (24%), ability to communicate with customers (14%) and a customer loyalty program (12%), Clutch found.
Some small businesses recognize the value of mobile apps for features like payments and communication with customers, but many companies don’t have the financial resources to put into building and maintaining an app, Clutch’s study suggests. The cost of developing an app varies depending on its features, as Clutch found in a separate survey last year. Simple features such as push notifications, user reviews and logins tend to be less expensive, while building a web portal to manage an app costs more because of integration and coding expenses. Marketers can find online resources to help estimate those costs.
Small businesses need to weigh the costs of building an app with their objectives. While almost one-third of business owners said they created an app to attract new customers, this goal can be hard to achieve. Apple’s App Store and Google Play each list millions of apps, and most people don’t browse for a particular company’s app. Instead, they seek apps that perform a certain function, such as messaging or photo-sharing.
Mobile apps work well to communicate with customers and for loyalty programs, Clutch said. Mobile apps can track rewards points, send push notifications about new products and promotions, among other functions. Small businesses that are considering building an app should start with the simplest and least expensive version of an app, measure how well it performs and then build from there.