Is a Mobile App for Your Martial Arts and Fitness Business a Good Idea?
By: Mike Dolpies
For two years in a row when I spoke on the subject of Mobile Marketing at the Business Building Bootcamp events put on by Member Solutions I talked about Mobile Websites, QR Codes, Mobile Landing Pages, Google Mobile Ads and Text Message Marketing. The first year was an introduction and the second year was a recap and summary of best practices. The subject of “Mobile Apps for Your Martial Arts Business” didn’t really need to be discussed “way back then.” Things move fast in the mobile world. Let’s review a bit, and then we’ll answer the burning question… “Mobile App or No Mobile App?”
Mobile Websites: A 2010 and 2011 buzz word! If you still don’t have a mobile version of your website or a responsive design website I’d say you’re behind, but honestly, you’re not alone. Close to 70% of small businesses still do not have a mobile website. Or, they simply do not have a website that displays properly on all screens. This is either because of pure stubbornness or major ignorance! A mobile website is a separate version of your main website optimized for smartphone users. Content is scaled back and the experience is vastly different.
Option Two For The Mobile Web: Responsive Design. A Responsive Design site is one that adjusts to each screen. If you’re thinking about a total website makeover- Responsive Design is worth considering. Just keep in mind each screen when you decide on how to best present your “responsive content.” Rumor has it Google Search Algorithms favor responsive design.
By the end of 2014 “Mobile Web Traffic” is predicted to surpass “desktop web traffic.” The interesting point to understand is mobile traffic is not consuming desktop traffic. It’s not a zero sum game. Mobile devices help increase overall web traffic across the board. Look at your website analytics. Chances are – ten to fifty percent of your web traffic is mobile. I know that’s a wide range! The number varies by the month and where you are located. Odds are you fit somewhere in the ten to fifty percent range.
Recent stats show quarterly smartphone sales beat “feature phone” (or “dumbphone”) sales for the first time. 35% of American households own a tablet. In my home the number of tablets is four. I would bet your martial arts school business has close to 70% or more using smartphones and tablets. Agree?
What else do smartphone users and tablet owners do in addition to a little web browsing? A good majority of the time is spent using email. Other communication and social networking also consume plenty of mobile hours. The rest of the time is spent consuming content within Mobile Apps. That brings up the question we started this article with… “Mobile App or no Mobile App?”
Why Should You Have Mobile App for Your Martial Arts Business?
Utility, Student Engagement, Direct Communication, Enhanced Image and Branding.
I’m sure there are a few other reasons to consider a Mobile App, but those are a nice start.
Utility: You can do some private lesson scheduling, post answers to FAQ’s, register students for events and keep just about all of your “class handouts” inside your app.
Student Engagement: It’s best to assume prospects won’t find your Mobile App. While you can enable easy sharing and word of mouth to find new prospects – your Mobile App will mainly be used by current students and families. Every martial arts business has turnover. We all lose students for various reasons. Increased student engagement will boost retention. You can use special content delivered only through your Mobile App to give members a feeling of exclusivity. Areas of your app dedicated to curriculum support and practice videos can dramatically impact a student’s experience. The best part is you don’t have to “have everything ready” before your Mobile App is built. You can add to your Mobile App over time and make it more valuable to students. I remember, the days of recording curriculum video on VHS and DVD. A lot of work – but well worth it when one student is impacted positively. Think of your Mobile App as VHS and DVD’s for practice, but 100X easier.
Direct Communication: Let’s side-step for a second. Text message marketing was (and still can be) an effective communication tool for a small business. And perhaps, there’s room for it in your marketing mix. The problem with text message marketing is campaigns can cost up to $500/m. In my humble, but accurate opinion, Mobile Apps can totally eliminate text marketing. How? Through the magic of Push Notifications. Once the App is downloaded, the user will be prompted to accept Push Notifications. Once permission is granted, each update, along with each new piece of App content will go directly to your student via the Push Notification. Of course, you must manage and respect this relationship.
Enhanced Image and Branding: Google stats show not having a website that works well on mobile will now actually hurt your business. A decent mobile web experience is expected. But, with Mobile Apps we’re still in the phase of “Wow, they have a mobile app, sweet!” The opportunity to really stand out and enhance your brand with a Mobile App is here.
Why Would You Not Want a Mobile App for Your Martial Arts Business
If you’re not open to new and different ways to increase communication with your students in an effort to boost retention, a Mobile App should go on the back-burner.
Even though Mobile App development does not have to be expensive a Mobile App should not be your first “go” at Mobile Marketing. Meaning: If your website is not built using Responsive Design or you are lacking a smartphone version of your website – my suggestion is to put time, thought and energy into “Mobile Web” initiatives before you have the Mobile App conversation.
Of course, only you can answer the question… “Mobile App or No Mobile App?”
Mike Dolpies (AKA: Mike D.) is Co-Owner of http://www.cyberspacetoyourplace.comAn Internet Marketing Brand. He’s the author of 6 books and is a frequent speaker on the topics of Internet, Facebook & Mobile Marketing for all types of business groups. More information on Mobile Apps can be found at: http://www.cyberspacetoyourplace.com/services/mobile-apps/