Mobile Website Versus Mobile App: Which Should You Use?
Mobile AppsMarketers often ask: “Should I create a mobile website OR a mobile app?” The reality is you should provide prospects and searchers with information in the form they want to consume it in.
Therefore, mobilize your content marketing. Offer a mobile website (or at least use responsive design), mobile app, social media presence (already optimized for mobile use) and mobile search.
Until recently, the mobile website versus mobile app question didn’t provide a clear answer because:
- Mobile website and app use were relatively similar.
- Mobile apps just provided another entry to your website.
But applications have evolved in two critical ways:
- Mobile apps now leverage the power of native mobile functionality such as swipes.
- Mobile apps tend to be optimized for data use. This is important in light of increased data plan costs.
Recent Nielsen research reveals that mobile apps are used significantly more than mobile websites. Here are the results for smartphones and for tablets.
3 Steps to creating an effective mobile app strategy
Here’s how to put together a mobile app strategy to ensure that your target audience wants and uses your content. But make sure that you cover the mobile basics!
1) Develop a mobile app that provides value to users.
- Don’t put all of your website content into the mobile app.
- Solve customer problems on-the-go. Determine the most critical information your audience needs on-the-go since if they’re using a tablet at home or work, you can assume they have access to WiFi so that data isn’t an issue.
- Be timely and relevant. Realize that your mobile app won’t solve or answer every customer need. If you’re everything to everyone, you’re not providing tailored, useful content. Get users information in a minimal number of intuitive steps.
- Provide access to your business. Include link to your website, physical address, phone number and email to ensure that prospects can find your business when they’re ready to buy. Where relevant, allow users to buy directly from your app.
2) Distribute your app to interested users who will download it.
- The challenge for most businesses is that the mobile app space is already cluttered and your ability to break through is difficult at best.
- Use existing mobile app platforms. The ideal opportunity is for your app to appear preinstalled on new mobile devices or to gain visibility on an array of app distribution platforms.
- Place an ad for your app on your website and blog. While keeping your branding consistent, create an ad that promotes the value of your mobile app.
- Promote your mobile app in your communications. Include call outs in all of your emailings, promotions, newsletters, purchase receipts and customer inquiries.
- Give your mobile app a social media shout out. Regularly give your social media followers a reason to download your mobile app.
- Include social sharing buttons so that visitors can share your app. Leverage the power of earned media. Spotlight people who share and promote your app.
- Add a call-to-action to your email signature file. Turn every email your write into a marketing medium.
- Use social media advertising. Target candidates for your app. This can be a very cost effective way to create more users.
- Exchange space on your website or blog for advertising on other websites or blogs. This is a spin on leveraging the power of other people’s audiences. If your budget is low, you need to take advantage of opportunities.
- Promote your mobile app in your other printed content. Think user manuals, labels and advertising.
- Highlight your mobile app in your retail establishments (and live events). Put signs in your window including a QR code or short URL. Also, leverage other signage.
3) Encourage people who have your app on their mobile devices to use it regularly.
- Understand that getting people to download your mobile app is only the first step. Since if they don’t use it again, it’s just something taking up real estate on their mobile device. While it gets you some impressions, it’s useless to you and to them.
- Continue to provide useful information your target audience needs. This can be regular updates. The best way to achieve this is to provide information that automatically needs to be refreshed.
- Update your app’s functionality. Continually improve your app. This gives you a reason to communicate with your installed base and to give them a reason to check out your app.
- Make it worth users’ while. Incorporate an incentive for using the content. I’m not a fan of this approach since promotions are a slippery slope that results in lower prices and margins.
When it comes to mobile content, you need to have a mobile app to compete. To this end, like mobile websites, create an app that solves a customer need. Further, spend as much time on promoting downloads and encouraging use as you do on its creation.
What has your experience been with mobile apps? What are your keys to successfully creating, distributing and getting people to use your app?