If you think mobile apps should only be made by big fish brands like Citibank and Macy’s, you couldn’t be more wrong. The truth is quite a few small and medium-sized businesses are jumping on the mobile app bandwagon. They understand that an effective branding strategy on mobile devices should go beyond just having a responsive website.

Just by looking around your neighborhood small businesses, you will find that many have developed and launched their own mobile apps — be it the coffee shop around the corner or that big laundromat downtown. Their owners have gotten the word that mobile apps can take their marketing to a higher level.

If you’re still wondering why a small business should develop their own mobile app, here are some seven compelling reasons as to why you should embrace the marketing tactic:

1. Customers Remember You More

A recent study has shown that Americans spend around 4.7 hours a day on their mobile phones. While most Americans keep only a dozen or so apps on their phones, the average user is used to scanning and seeing the app screens on their phones a lot. Having your app be one of them can be a benefit to your small business, as the human mind subconsciously records every image, graphic or app icon it sees multiple times a day, even if it’s not consciously aware of it.

2. You Reach Your Customers Directly

Mobile apps can typically provide product and price info, facilitate reservations, enable account access, provide news, socially connect you to others and a lot more.

A major advantage to having a mobile app is that you can readily serve up business information, such as promotions and sales, to your customers on a regular basis. All this information is available to them at their fingertips. Via notifications, you can secure a direct connection and gently remind users about your services and products when it’s appropriate.

3. Your Customers Gain Value

Speaking of alerting customers about your special deals, you could try digitalizing your company’s loyalty program. Instead of keeping to a traditional point-collection card, you could encourage your customers to rack up points using your mobile app. The gain? Return customers and additional app downloads. We recommend you check out PunchMe, a digital service that helps you design loyalty programs for smart phones.

4. You Promote Brand Recognition

Mobile apps boost customer awareness of a brand. When you make the app functional, hip, stylish and informative, you are communicating a strong message of professionalism that impresses users.

Think of the mobile app as a billboard sign. When you pack it with features that your customers love and present them with a beautifully designed platform, you are making a favorable impression. Your small business will be top of mind whenever a customer is looking to buy your products or services.

If your app is easy-to-use and helpful, your customers will use it. In the advertising field, this is known as “effective frequency,” which is reached when the customer comes in contact with your brand about 20 times and becomes consciously aware of your business. Once your customers get emotionally invested in using the app, they will be more likely to promote the app and your business.

5. Boost Customer Engagement

Whether you sell gourmet candy or flowers, your customers can find you through your app. Outfitting your app with a help desk or messaging feature is a solid way to build a communication bridge with your customers. Restaurant reservation service OpenTable, for instance, is built on digital communication. Instead of phoning a restaurant for a table, you can use their site to book the same with just a few clicks. Because some users prefer to communicate via app or text rather than by phone, staying in touch via a mobile app is a solid way to secure a communication line with your customers.

6. You’ll Be Ahead of a Lot of the Competition

The vast majority of small businesses have yet to develop their own app, which means you can leap ahead of the competition when you offer one. Be the first small business in your neighborhood to pitch a mobile app to locals. Having one will make you seem cutting-edge and forward-thinking.

7. Secure Customer Loyalty

An important reason to consider creating your own mobile app is to secure customer loyalty. Because people in general are exposed to excess advertising, such as email marketing, social media ads, website banners, coupons, flyers, newspaper ads, flashing signs, billboards, and roadside banners — the advertising effect of your own small business gets lost in the noise. Building a sincere and true connection is all about providing service. When you make your app useful and/or fun-to-use, you are making loyal lovers of your company out of your app users. By just being a “swipe” away, your customers will automatically turn to you instead of your competitors. You definitely win by offering a mobile app.