Does Your Business Need a Native App or Mobile Site?

The mobile web, as I have discussed on this blog, is currently experiencing explosive growth as users begin to rely more heavily on mobile smart phones, iPads and other tablet-based devices. If you do not currently have a strategy for providing content to your user base, then it is time to get on board. Some research indicates that most mobile web users prefer to get their content through mobile websites rather than through apps. So does you company need a mobile site geared towards very specific tasks, or would a native app make more sense?

eMarketer Study - Oct. 2010


These preferences may surprise mobile experts who consider apps to offer the best content and shopping experiences. And marketers may be frustrated as well; getting an app on a user’s home screen is a constant reminder of the brand, but it doesn’t make sense to offer an app users don’t want.

One of the major issues I see with apps is the cost to develop a native app considering the drop off rate. Only 5% of users will revisit an app they downloaded after 20 days. Needless to say, that is a recipe for what may become a very costly gamble. It is my belief that small to medium size businesses would be much better suited with an attractive mobile site that gears users to one or two specific functions. What those functions or tasks are depends on the type of business and what information is most critical for the end user.

So what are the pros of developing a mobile website?

Mobile web development costs are lower (no need to develop an app for platforms such as iPhone and Android), it is far easier for a site to be found in search engines, and consumers seem to prefer using the familiar format of a mobile website for sourcing content. However, many have noticed that the performance of an app is quite high compared to some mobile sites because the code runs locally on the user’s device. Therefore, keep your mobile website “lean and mean”. Allow the functionality and design to grow along with increasingly fast connections to the mobile web.

Besides the lower development costs, there are no “additional costs” tacked on, such as entry costs, which some app stores charge with each upgrade. Also, there is no need to share any sales revenues as a result of someone using a mobile website (app stores can take a significant cut of your revenue). Anyone on the web has access to your mobile site, but with an app, you rely on the app stores’ policies and procedures on how many users can download and install the app.

Obviously there are many considerations when attempting to navigate the mobile web. There may be instances when niche oriented products or services dictate developing a native app rather than a mobile site. Carefully planning your mobile web strategy will help you to understand your mobile customers needs. Start small, and expand your mobile presence as the technology and connectivity grows.

Contact me today to learn more about the mobile web and have your business can leverage this new technology.

Charleston Marketing Partners