Mobile optimization. Mobile applications. Digital media marketing. Customer relationships management. Social media marketing. Pay per click advertising. Search engine optimization strategies. With so many technological facets seemingly necessary to your brand’s success, it can be hard to keep them all straight (and easy to become overwhelmed while attempting to do so).
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the question of whether your brand – and its engagement with consumers – will benefit from a dedicated mobile application, or if a mobile-optimized website will suffice.
Mobile apps are an investment. It is not – and should not be – simply a reorganization of your company’s website. It takes entirely new coding and functionalities. As such, it is time-consuming and expensive. This isn’t to say mobile applications don’t deliver any value to the businesses who commission them. When done correctly, they do. When brought to life for the wrong reasons, or without a strong understanding of the purpose of mobile applications, they are a waste of resources.
So, what’s the right reason to develop a mobile app for your company?
Mobile applications are meant as an additional communication avenue for your brand to engage with customers and potential customers. It should allow you to learn from consumers and meet their wants and needs while on the go, in a different way than your website.
2017 trends indicate large amounts of potential within the mobile industry — both now and in the future. The latest figures estimate some 2.8 million apps available in the Google Play Store, and an additional 2.2 million apps in Apple’s App Store. Within the next few years, mobile apps are on track to garner $188.9 billion in annual revenue via app store initial purchases, in-app buys, and intra-app advertising.
While having a strong online presence is still very much necessary, it is not sufficient. e-Commerce stores, especially, must take care to adhere to the latest trends in web design and development. As customers have now become very familiar with the internet. Their needs and expectations for mobile information and technology use are shifting.
With roughly three-quarters of the population owning and operating a smartphone for hours a day. It would be a mistake to not cater to this pocket-sized computer. Customers these days want convenience amidst the hustle and bustle. Tweet-sized kernels of information and eye-catching designs. The ability to peruse the internet for whatever product, service, or information stokes their fancy – and whenever it does.
The primary purpose of your app does not necessarily need to be selling a product. Customers just want to be able to interact with your brand in a way they can relate to, and on the go. Customers are demanding that companies engage with them in a personalized way to attract and hold their attention.
What can mobile apps do that websites can’t?
Navigate more quickly:
Mobile applications allow users to navigate aspects of a company’s online presence faster and more efficiently than they would be able to with a mobile-optimized version of the site, alone.
Easy access to other features:
The in-app experience is far more conducive to utilizing GPS, compass, contacts, biometrics (fingerprint scanning and retina recognition), camera functionality (access a prescription, deposit a check), and augmented reality.
Optimized specifically for device:
Even if your company’s mobile-version of the website looks great on a smaller screen, it’s not enough. The point of difference between many sites’ mobile app and mobile-optimized website is the processing speed. Slow loading speed affects customers perception of the brand – a sentiment that lasts beyond an isolated experience with a mobile device.
A customer who has a negative experience with your brand on any platform or device is less likely to return later, even on, say, a computer. Where the website is running ideally. When customers who experienced an initial negative interaction with a brand do return to the site, they are less likely to buy.
The above is to say:
Mobile optimized websites are limited by browser and the customer’s wifi and/or 3G/4G capabilities. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are built specifically for each device. Your iOS app will be coded differently from the Android version of your app. This is a good thing, because it means the app will function optimally on its intended device.
In conclusion, a mobile application is simply an extension of your business, created to meet your customers needs: personalized and while on-the-go. If your website is able to do this, great. However, if it is not, your brand is likely losing business to competitors with mobile apps who fill the void.