If you are an owner of a business, this question will surely trouble you if you want a mobile presence. Though with the massive usage of smartphones and tablets or may be phablets, I feel it is impossible to NOT have a mobile website. So we come down to the question “Should I go for a mobile app??”
To answer this, one needs to sit down and think real hard as to what kind of customer engagement does your business want? How do you want to reach out to the customers? How do you want them to find you? What are you providing them with mobile accessibility? Devise a strategy, a mobile strategy!
Once you have the answers to some of these basic questions, I give you a few pointers to decide whether your business requires an app or it can very well do without it too. But before we do that, let’s start on the same page:
A Mobile Website is your same website (same features, same looks, same functions) but modified to suite the small screens/touch screens. It is only a mobile-friendly version of your existing website, which is accessed via a URL on a mobile/tablet web browser-Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer etc.
While a Mobile App is a separately developed application which the user needs to download and install in his/her device. Like a computer program, it will use the smartphone data and sometimes hardware, to deliver to the customer.
So now you evaluate your business on some of these key parameters:
- What is your business goal?
If I want to cover masses and cater to an extensive audience, I would hold on to a responsive mobile website. Because of its easy accessibility through a URL and its platform independence- information dissemination, marketing and enhancing your brand – can be done best through a mobile website. For example, Dell website aims is to showcase its different kinds of products and have maximum possible viewership. A responsive mobile website would be a good choice to do so.
Whereas if your target customer is
quite specific or your product is a productivity or utility tool, a mobile app
will do wonders for you. If it is something of regular use or requires
personalization like in case of keeping notes, calculator and dictionary, it
would be frustrating to connect to the web again and again. Also I would like
to use these offline as well; hence an app makes sense here.
- What kind of Customer Engagement is your business looking for?
A mobile app will use the smartphone resources and give you a very engaging customer experience. Angry Bird, Candy Crush and similar games do exactly that with their exclusive UI. Mobile applications offer a smooth and fully integrated system to talk to your customer. Applications like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat will also use the device hardware like camera, memory and GPS to enrich the user experience. Though a mobile website can be developed as a database driven web application which can sometimes act as a native app, it still may not match the customer expectations.
- How do you wish to reach your customers?
If you are new and looking forward to generating leads, SEO is what you need to do. Mobile Websites will let you do that!It will make you more visible on the web and the potential customers can easily locate you in search results & industry directories.
However with a mobile app, it is available to users only once they download and install it in their systems. It is very much dependant on the platform, OS, device, App Marketplace-Apple App Store or Androids Google Play Store. But it comes with a silver lining. You get more control over the presence on a device. The customers can get targeted push notifications about special deals and offers. I remember downloading a game Blocked-in and just a few days later they lured me into downloading another game of theirs. Just like that!
- Does it require internet connectivity?
They say ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and Mobile apps are practically never out of your sight. This ‘anywhere and anytime’ availability, gives a huge advantage to mobile apps over mobile websites. While a mobile website will require an internet all the time to work its charm. So if you are looking for business even without bandwidth, then mobile app is a clear go-go.
And like mentioned above, you will be only annoying your customers if you make them wait and connect to the internet for small tasks like calculations or looking up for a word.
- How much can your business afford?
If you are willing to spend a good deal, you can do mobile apps very elegantly. Its development and maintenance might hurt your pocket far more than rebuilding your website into a mobile friendly one. Upgrading your mobile app time to time and pushing it to customers will be another tussle you might have to face, which is absolutely nil in case of mobile websites. They are more dynamic and one update can reflect everywhere to all the customers. However, mobile apps may still score over the websites despite the huge budget because of the exclusive personal space they get on your phone.
There is another feature of mobile apps which you can consider – mobile payments. Though this is a feature very well used on mobile websites, the experience here is better. I would any day prefer using HDFCs mobile app over its mobile website. I have paid my credit card bills in the last minute lying in my bed.The UI makes it so much smoother and effortless.So after gauging all your possibilities if you decide to go for an app development, your next big step is to choose your apps platform. This is a problem most of the times since you cannot have your app developed on all the OSes/platforms – Android, iOS, Windows etc., unless of course you are a Richie-rich. So you either get a comprehensive research done on what will fit your business the best or you can work with an analytics team to help you find the right pick. Analyse your mobile website. Find out which OS, platform or device is most widely used by your customers and kick-start with it.On the other hand businesses focussing more on wider accessibility, compatibility and cost effectiveness might want to stick with their mobile websites and make it more responsive and adaptive for their customers. Because you don’t want to do something which doesn’t really solve customers problem but only complicates it further!
So go ahead and set your goals straight and dive into the mobile world with all you can, because the bottom line is to make YOUR bottom line look better!