Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Great Mobile Debate: Site or App?

Look up from whatever you’re doing right now. How many people are fiddling with their smartphones, entranced by a glowing screen of content? If they’re not texting, they’re preoccupied with either a mobile app or a mobile site. Can your small business be found in either of these realms?

Mobile Sites and Apps

Differences in Purpose
Mobile sites and apps have very similar DNA. Both give your small business:
  • Extended marketing reach
  • A fresh visibility on the essential mobile platform
  • Smartphone-friendly information
  • Customer interactivity
Apps match sites function-for-function with one big difference; apps are essentially a piece of software for your smartphone. They are native to your phone and dedicated to an explicit function, much like Microsoft Word is housed in your PC for word processing.

Mobile sites and apps are virtually neck and neck in functionality, but which does your small business bet on? Here’s a look at both horses in this race.

Mobile Sites in Small Business

Mobile Sites in Small Business
Waves of studies point to droves of people accessing mobile sites daily. They prefer mobile browsing over apps for business searches and shopping . If you present customers with a compelling mobile site, they have no need to comb through an app store.

Mobilewebsites are universal and all-inclusive if optimized properly. Sites will ideally be built to work on rival smartphone giants iPhone and Android, as well as stragglers Windows and BlackBerry. Apps must be built individually for one platform at a time. Unless you have the budget, potential customers may be left out.
Finally, the simple, critical factor of cost favors mobile sites, as they are considerably cheaper to develop than a mobile app.

Mobile Apps in Small Business

Mobile Apps in Small Business
Smartphone users spend more time on mobile apps than mobile sites. A recent study found that 82 percent of “mobile media minutes” are dedicated to apps over mobile browsing. Another survey indicated that most of this time is divided between personal finance managers, calendars, GPS navigation and social media.

An app’s ease of access factors in. Customers click the app homescreen icon, and they’re in. Once the app is downloaded, they don’t have to worry about spotty mobile web reception or password-protected WiFi. The app icon will be laid out clearly and conveniently on their phone. 

Apps give your small business a powerful presence in the customer’s life. If you offer a useful app, customers will dedicate valuable smartphone real estate and memory to your small business.

Base Mobile Design on Your Business

Base it on Your Business
Your business should consider investing in a mobile presence. Comparing the costs and considering the virtual functionality tie, start with a mobile site. If you have the budget, go for an app or a full-blown site/app mobile campaign. If you decide to dip your toe or dive right into the mobile waters, you will be very happy with the results.