With 96 percent of the world's population now using mobile devices, it's imperative for companies to figure out how to best connect with and serve customers on a mobile device, in a way that is simple and rewarding. Executive conversations have now shifted from whether or not to invest in mobile, to what is the right mobile app strategy to pursue.
Mobile site vs. native mobile app
In order to make good strategic decisions on how to connect with customers in the mobile channel, internal stakeholders need to know the pros and cons between mobile websites and mobile apps.
There are all sorts of screen sizes in play requiring Web content to scale between a desktop or a smartphone. Mobile websites are basically the same website seen by desktop browsers, but are optimized for viewing and use by a mobile device's Internet browser. Basically, a well-built mobile website makes viewing a company website from a mobile device less tedious and more "responsive" to what the mobile device can display.
Native mobile apps, on the other hand, are built to operate solely on top of the mobile device's operating system to perform a specific set of functions. Apple iOS and Android are the two dominate native operating systems to-date and give developers a lot of options to make native apps a better experience than a mobile website with more intuitive features and screens, high-level of interactivity, and content presentment that is engaging.
Make sure Your Basics Are Covered
In an article by Google Think Insights, 96 percent of consumers have visited websites not designed for mobile browsing and of that, 48 percent of people said they felt frustrated and annoyed. In today's day and age, customers expect a comprehensive mobile experience.
Also, 48 percentt of people said that if they didn't have a good experience or any experience with mobile websites they felt the company didn't value their business.
Having a mobile site isn't about just providing the basics. It's now a crucial piece to your marketing puzzle, building your brand and developing long-lasting relationships.
What comes first: Mobile website or native mobile app?
It is situational when trying to decide if a mobile website, mobile app or both are the right strategy for your company. Take a close look at who your customer is and what they want to do with their mobile device to interact with your company. What kind of mobile experience will best serve your clientele?
In an example taken from Localytics, the founders of AllRecipes.com, needed a mobile technology that could make navigating their enormous library of recipes easy. The database could have gone on a website, but Allrecipes.com knew its clientele wasn't looking for recipes to read; they were looking for recipes to cook. They decided to develop an app that included shopping-list building, a recipe finder and an ad-free view that made using it in the kitchen simpler.
For them, a mobile app was the best tool for the job and what their customers needed to best interact with the company. Many companies choose to start with a native mobile app, while others take a hybrid approach and provide both a mobile website to cover all mobile devices while justifying the level of mobile experience by building, for example, an iOS native app.
Mobile apps improve user experience
If you think your organization or customers won't benefit from a mobile app, think again. A mobile app can offer a more rich and rewarding user experience because they:
Are native on the mobile device and do not have to download the entire user experience like a webpage.
Process tasks concurrently which a website page cannot do.
Mobile apps are usable while a mobile website requires an Internet connection.
Mobile apps can gain monetization with in-app ads and purchases.
Can store some important information to reuse or process.
Eighty-five percent of participants in a recent study done by Compuware said they prefer mobile apps to mobile websites because of the apps' superior convenience, faster access and easier browsing.
Jess Taylor is the CEO of Blue Rocket that offers custom mobile application consulting services from mobile app conception through development and testing and store launch for Apple iOS and Android platforms.