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That’s a problem of the wise. Businesses really need to go mobile—especially because the vast majority of Americans – 95% – now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%.
Not taking advantage of this is just letting your competition get free reign.
So here we are. I know that getting an app or having a website built is not a simple undertaking, so I want to help you make the right decision.
In this post, I will try my best to help you make your decision by detailing what mobile apps and mobile sites do for businesses.
Which one is for you?
Before we go into the details, let’s just go over the reasons why you really need to be on mobile.
★ 40% of consumers have turned to a competitor after having an awful mobile experience
★ More people are searching on their phones year over year
★ 67% of consumers said mobile friendly sites make them more likely to buy a product or use a service
★ 50% of mobile searches lead to purchase
It’s simple. If you’re not on mobile, you’re losing customers. You’re losing money.
Google has emphasized the need for businesses to be present on mobile that it made adjustments to its search engine to accommodate the surge of mobile users. Mobile sites and mobile apps are taking center stage in that sites are expected to have a mobile counterpart be it with an app or with a site.
For small businesses, there are case studies left and right when it comes to both mobile websites and mobile apps.
Before we proceed, I need to tell you that in the end, you know your business better than anyone else. More importantly, you know your target and clients better than anyone. So I can only provide you with facts and recommendations. In the end, the decision is yours and no one else can really answer it for you with 100 percent sureness.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s try to look at what a mobile website and a mobile app can do for your business.
From there, you can decide.
A mobile website is a mobile version of your desktop website. It is separate from your desktop site and is designed for exclusive mobile use. Mobile websites typically do not have as much content as desktop sites. It has limited pages and each page is optimized to match what people usually need when using mobile to access websites.
★ Mobile websites make your business reachable from any mobile device that has a browser. And now, all smartphones have browsers meaning your business will be accessible by 61 percent of the US population if you have a mobile site.
★ Mobile websites are an extension of your brand. If you have a desktop site, people will assume you have a mobile website. That means a lot because it’s been widely reported that more than half of users tend to have negative opinions of a brand when they can’t access it from their phones.
★ There are no downloads necessary. Just a browser and users can pop right into your site.
★ Mobile sites improve your search rankings, even for your desktop site. Search engines like Bing and Google openly declare that they favor sites that offer good mobile experience when ranking on the search page.
★ If your site is hosted on WordPress or Joomla and you don’t want to have a separate mobile site developed for your business because of cost, time and other reasons, it’s not difficult to make a mobile-friendly version of your site just by adding a component that makes it responsive.
“Responsive” is a word used to describe websites that are designed to be pretty, usable and viewable from any device.
A mobile app is a software application made specifically for use on smart phones and other small, wireless devices such as tablets and smart watches. They are developed entirely separately from your website.
In the beginning, apps were made to provide users with a similar experience to a website they can access on desktop. Today, apps are usually highly-specialized individual software that serves as part of a business’s mobile strategy.
★ US users spend more than two hours a day on their smartphones where 86 percent is spent on apps.
★ Apps can serve many functions. They can deliver general information like prices and events, they can facilitate booking, search, be a platform for personalized service, can have messengers, and much more. Perhaps the biggest advantage to having an app is that you give the user a complete experience when they’re inside your app.
★ It reinforces your brand or you can create a smaller branding subset through your app. You can use your app to market to a certain segment of your base and target.
For example, you own a bakery and baking supply shop, you can market to home cooks and stay at home moms through a specialized app that takes into consideration this particular customer segment when it comes to design, messaging and other brand components.
★Stand out from the competition. Let’s face it: Apps are the Jaguars of the business world. If you have an app, you’re already ahead of the competition both by giving customers another way to reach you and by having the addition cool factor of having an app. C’mon, apps are cool.
★Cut through the noise of websites by providing an all around experience that is centered on your business. When you bring customers into your app, you connect with them without all the distractions of the wider web. Apps allow you to”stay close” with your customers.
Having an app and a mobile website will help your business, but what if just want to choose one? Here’s a rundown of the cons of each one.
Mobile Website Cons
If you have a desktop website, it’s pretty simple to setup a mobile site. If you had someone else or an agency develop your site, it shouldn’t take a lot cost and time-wise to setup a mobile site. That said, businesses should have mobile sites. For the purposes of comparison, here’s how they stack up against mobile apps.
★ No app store presence As a business, being visible on all marketing channels is useful.
★ No push notifications Push notifications are a delicate but amazing way to communicate with your audience. It can be highly targeted and is aligned with their interests.
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★ No offline access Mobile websites need the internet to work.
★ A challenge to design If you’ve put mobile web design duties to someone who isn’t familiar with usability practices and performance benchmarks, your site can be useless and do more harm than good.
Mobile App Cons
The truth is that comparing mobile apps and mobile websites is like asking to choose between bread and butter. Bread is great, but it’s awesome with butter. Right? Since mobile websites are easier to get up, an mobile app need to have a strong argument for itself if you were to consider getting one set up.
★ Added setup This used to be a pretty strong con against mobile apps, but now with app building solutions like BuildFire, getting an app up and running isn’t really hard and definitely doesn’t take a long time. For a business, the app doesn’t have to be very elaborate at the start. The setup can be quick if you’ve planned ahead.
★Extra cost It’s rare that a business wants to have a fully custom app developed for them. Whether for functions like booking, mobile commerce store or as a customer service channel, app builders are able to provide a drag and drop platform for a fraction of the price of custom apps. Builders can charge anywhere for $30 to $100 monthly, which saves you a lot in upfront costs and ongoing support.
★ It’s more work Mobile apps might be drag and drop but they’re not definitely going to operate themselves. Apps should be part of a larger mobile strategy and marketing strategy. You need to have someone who will spend time learning the ropes of app marketing so you can maximize your app and get a good return on your investment. It’s more work but it promises more returns.
The answer: Both.
I’m trying really hard not to be biased here. I don’t like mobile browsers. But since the dawn of smart phones with huge screens, they’ve become more tolerable and usable.
I think since it’s easy to setup, all businesses should have at least a mobile website.
However, if you want to bring your business’s mobile presence on a whole new level, getting a mobile app is mandatory. Through your app, you can possibly open up a new revenue stream and bring better service to your customers.
Since it’s not a lot to have one up, you should really think it over.
Make sure you have a mobile website setup, then review your options for having a mobile app running.
Got specific questions for your business? Happy to answer your questions in the comments below!