Does My Business Need A Mobile Website Or A Mobile App?
Even casual observers of consumer behavior know that people love their smartphones. We use them for everything from social media connections, to email and, increasingly, for shopping. According to leading industry researcher eMarketer, U.S. mobile commerce sales (including travel) surged over 91% in 2011 to reach $6.7 billion. And 93% of those mobile shoppers use smartphones.
So business owners are naturally asking how to get in front of smartphone users in order to remain competitive. There are generally two options : a mobile optimized web site or a mobile app. Mobile optimized web sites are “mini” versions of your full web site that view well on popular smartphone platforms like Apple and Android. Mobile apps, or applications, are a downloadable utility that usually provides smartphone users with a more interactive environment using the device’s native features. The nature of your business and your marketing strategy will determine which route is best for you.
Think of mobile websites as a reflection of your standard website, re-written and presented in a way that smartphone users can see. If the data you want your customers to see is fairly static, mobile websites are an efficient and easy way to convey that information to smartphone users. Information such as directions to your storefront, inventory that is consistently available or services that are typical from day to day can all be uploaded and remain as the face of your business on the mobile web. You still face the task of driving traffic to your site, through search engines and advertising, but all mobile web users will be able to see the information you present.
Mobile apps are more appropriate for a business that has more dynamic content to present to customers who are willing to download its app. Because mobile apps have the ability to utilize a smartphone’s native features, such as its camera, GPS sensor and address book, they present many opportunities to offer something of value to the consumer. For example, utilizing GPS based check-ins or scannable QR codes in order to receive discounts or promotional offerings gives customers reasons to download the mobile app and patronize the business . App users are also able to receive push notifications, a method of receiving messages even when the app is not in use.
Although many app development firms have historically charged significantly more than a web developer’s fees for creating a mobile optimized web site, several companies have begun offering affordable and customizable mobile apps, thus allowing small businesses to maximize their contact and interaction with their target consumers.
ComF5 is one such company that offers TouchPro, a mobile app that is full customizable to a business owner’s needs. One low development fee gets you an app for iPod, iPad and Android. You also get an HTML5 compatible app that is not only functional for Blackberry users, but it is also compatible with any smart phone’s browser and is thus viewable as a mobile website.