With apps all the rage, small businesses want to get in on the action too. But it's anything but easy.
Relatively few small companies have the resources to build and market their own apps. I've written about services that offer the ability to quickly and easily put together a smartphone app. Now one of those companies, Didmo, is offering a way to get the word out on its newly created app.
Last week, Didmo unveiled a partnership with Constant Contact, an email marketing services provider, which could potentially help answer the issue of discoverability.
Didmo's Magmito platform is one of many that offers small businesses and individuals a way for them to create a basic application. The app runs across nearly all of the mobile platforms, including Android, BlackBerry and feature phones. For iOS, Magmito creates a Web app that can be placed on the device's home page. The company argues that the approval process is too complicated for most small businesses.
"Our vision with Magmito has been to put the ability to create apps in the hands of small businesses," Didmo CEO Ted Iannuzzi told me.
But once an app is made, how does one get the word out? That's where Constant Contact comes in. The company specializes in sending bulk email notifications to verified contacts, a service widely used by both large and small businesses.
Businesses can take advantage of Constant Contact's distribution capabilities to send out email notifications about the app. The email could contain a QR code for smartphones to download the app, or a link for iOS devices to get the Web top app. The deal also has Constant Contact promoting Magmito's app creation capabilities.
"It's all about discoverability," Iannuzzi said. "(Small businesses) don't want to get lost on the app store. That's not going to work for them."
Constant Contact keeps a database of verified contacts that have opted into the program, so it's more than just simple spam, Iannuzzi said.
Iannuzzi said it may not be worth it for small businesses with a local client base to go through the effort of putting their app on iTunes. Rather than a national audience, that business is looking for customers who live near its location.
Didmo already has a growing user base of its own. The company boasts more than 15,000 users on its Magmito platform, as well as a partnership with Swedish carrier TeliaSonera.
Magmito costs as little as $4.99 for a mobile app, which lasts the year. There are pricier options, including a more customizable version for $4.99 a month, and a business class one for $9.99 a month, or $99 a year. Users simply pick and choose elements of the app, and add their own words, features, and pictures.
The service allows businesses and individuals to create their apps, although most stick to a template, and don't offer as much interaction as a mobile game or entertainment app.
Still, they're good enough to offer enough functions for a small business looking to expand its reach.
Living in Manhattan, I'm around a lot of mom and pop pizza chains. I'd love to be able to pull up their customer app and order a pie. With Magmito, that's actually a realistic scenario.