As every business owner knows, keeping your customers close and keeping their loyalties aligned is a crucial part of ongoing marketing efforts. When you keep those already in the loop happy with inside knowledge and information, you can bet they’ll recommend your business and/or services to their friends. Honestly, there’s nothing better than having your own little army of satisfied clients driving new business to your door.

Fortunately for businesses these days, technology has made it easier than ever to keep in touch with existing and potential clients. Social media sites make it easy to maintain and grow those relationships in a genuine, authentic way. Yet there is still something left to desired with these sites for businesses that want to offer a truly unique online presence to their customers – mobility and customization.

That’s where apps come into play. The possibilities to add value to the business-client relationship are nearly limitless with a branded app. The app marketplace has exploded over the past year and there are now many options for businesses who want in on the app game.

One of the most cost-effective ways to enter the app economy is for a business to build their own app. This may sound off-putting because of the assumption that it would take a lot of time, coding knowledge and money, or even all three put together. However, as Jamie Turner pointed out in his Entrepreneur Magazine article Nine Tools For Building Your Own Mobile App, “there are plenty of app development tools for ordinary humans, too.”

A quick Google search for mobile app development tools will bring up sites such as ShoutEm, MobileRoadie and InfiniteMonkeys, which harnesses the power of an app-building machine, enabling businesses to create their very own apps for no cost with a simple drag-and-drop platform that requires no coding or html knowledge.

Here are a few ideas of the features and feeds a business should consider including in their app:

  • Make it easy for clientele to comment on your business’ products and services using your mobile app. For example, inserting the feed of your Facebook stream will allow customers to “like” or rate your products and services as well as to “share” them with their own friends and family. This simple feature will allow you to quickly gauge what’s hot and what’s not in your store.
  • Use your app as a mobile suggestion box to collect comments from customers. Not only is this a great way of knowing first hand what people think about your business, it’s also an easy way to quickly gather important data. Plus, customers that feel like they have a hand in making your business successful will be more engaged and loyal.
  • Push out polls to the users of your app and give them a quick way to provide feedback and share their opinions. This is another great way to gather data without being too intrusive, like in an interview, or too complicated, like with a feedback form.

Data driven decisions are the heart of any business so gathering information quickly and reliably through a mobile app can really work to your advantage. Now imagine being able to do that with no monetary investment and a minimal time investment. Tools offered by ShoutEm, MobileRoadie and Infinite Monkeys can let you do just that and more.

About the Author: Kate Miller is a full-time blogger and writer convinced that she will actually manage to balance her time between her five incredible kids and her top-ranked Stolen Moments Cooking blog. She has recently been exploring the wonderful world of the mobile app economy with the Infinite Monkeys “make your own app” platform.