As a good marketer, you are always trying to place your message where your customers will see it. The first step to being successful is researching where they are looking. If a large share of your customers are coming to your business through mobile avenues then it may be time to consider the best way to deliver your information on a mobile device.
Small businesses have two main mobile options: a mobile-friendly website or an app designed for your company. Companies with a predominantly mobile customer base may find having both useful.
A mobile website, a version of your regular website modified for smaller, touch screen devices, doesn’t require any actions on the users behalf apart from visiting the site. An app, however, is a program that users download to their phone and which you can custom design to meet their needs.
In making this decision it is important to determine if your customer base is, in fact, a mobile-heavy one. If your customers are coming to your business on their cell phones, meeting them where they are through a mobile-friendly website or an app could be a worthwhile investment for your business.
The first step is to review your Google Analytics. By reviewing your Google Analytics report you can determine how many users are coming to the site via iPhone or tablet or Android by tracking visitors on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms. Then, you can decide how important developing a mobile presence is for your company.
If the numbers of visitors to your site on mobile devices is substantial, our first recommendation is that you build out a full mobile website or build out a responsive design website which adapts your content to a mobile screen automatically.
Additionally, if your analytics tell you that customers are spending a good amount of time on your mobile website, or returning to it frequently, those customers may be more likely to put in the time investment of downloading an app that they can access time and time again. You need to determine if your business type would warrant the use of an app.
However, a well designed mobile website can eliminate the need for a custom app. And the data proves, a mobile-friendly website is a purchase-friendly site, with “67 percent of consumers say[ing] they are more likely to purchase from a mobile-friendly website.”
Mobile sites do have advantages over apps: they are simple to find via a web search, update instantly (without any need for action on the customer’s part), are easily shared via Twitter or Facebook, and are quicker and less expensive to develop. Keep in mind, if you elect to build a mobile website that is not a responsive design website, you will need to update both your mobile site and desktop site each time you have a change.
A well-designed mobile site can have all the functionality of a custom app. If you want your customers to be able to send you questions, access information, or place orders easily from their phones – all of those options are possible on a mobile site. Additionally, a mobile site works on any type of handheld device where an app requires that a separate version be developed for each type of device it may be seen on.
That’s not to say an app can’t be an asset to your business. Studies have shown that “apps from retail businesses took up to 27 percent of consumer’s time” and can be a great way to reach your customers. Apps are always present on a customer's device serving as a constant reminder of your business while also providing a quick way for them to access your information. The key to an app's success is making sure it is something customers would use often.
The important thing is for your business to make informed decisions and investments based on the data you collect. In general, starting with a mobile site is the best way to reach customers looking for your business on a mobile device.
Pepper Erdmann is a Marketing Manager at Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact her at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com.