In the first few years of the new millennium websites were only regarded as a virtual marketing brochure. If you had a business, a website would serve no other purpose than to show customers and prospective clients that you are updated with technology.
But as social media started to grow in popularity and digital technology shifted its focus towards mobile communication, the website began to undergo its own evolution. It became the center of the “Digital Marketing Universe” where leads generated by inbound traffic would be converted into sales.
By 2013, industry analysts such as Forrester predicted that mobile technology would dominate online traffic within a few years. The website began its next round of evolution; transitioning towards a mobile responsive design. Unless your website was accessible by mobile gadgets, it would serve no value other than a virtual marketing brochure.
Google sounded the death knell for non-mobile responsive websites in April 2015. The search giant required all websites to be mobile responsive or be penalized in the search rankings.
Throughout the evolution of the website, there were discussions among SEO professionals on whether mobile responsiveness was enough to remain competitive. Despite its benefits, there were also problems with having responsive design.
First and foremost is download speed. Mobile responsive design takes longer to download because of the way it is built. Some users are required to download useless HTML/CSS codes while for others the images are stretched and not re-sized which impacts loading time.
The second factor is behavioral. Studies have shown that Internet users who search from a mobile gadget are in a different place in the sales funnel than those who are searching from a desktop. According to ComScore, 70% of mobile searchers are ready to walk into a store and purchase after browsing with their phone.
On the other hand, desktop searchers tend to take their time and look for other offers, suppliers and generally, not decided on purchasing yet.
It would seem that for these two factors alone, a mobile responsive website by itself would not ensure your competitiveness in the search rankings. The repercussions are greater if you have an e-commerce online business. Your immediate concern is sales conversion which may mean going through a longer path in the sales funnel.
The best solution would be to have a mobile application for your mobile responsive website. Here are four good reasons to consider this option:
1. Higher conversion rate
Statistically, 73% of mobile users use the Internet with the intent to purchase. However, the sheer number of online retailers available levels the playing field for everyone. There are so many choices to make.
Having a mobile app gives you an immediate advantage because of convenience. A mobile app simplifies the process. As mentioned earlier, 70% of mobile gadget users are inclined to purchase immediately compared to desktop searchers.
If you were in the pizza business and had a mobile app for delivery service, your customers would not need to go to your website to place the order. The convenience results in higher conversion rates for mobile apps.
2. Build a stronger brand
A mobile app will improve and strengthen your brand because it comes with built-in features that will allow you to connect your marketing efforts directly to your target market.
For example, you can have a mobile app that has a built-in feature for quicker access to customer service. If your customer is experiencing problems or issues with your product, providing him with quicker access to your support team would help build better relations and strengthen existing ones.
Another example would be for marketing and promotional activities. Going back to our example on the pizza restaurant, you can have discounting promos and schemes built in the mobile app. A good example would be to have a “loyalty card” function within the mobile app. The marketing and promotional feature can be activated whenever he places the order through the mobile app.
3. Faster speed
As mentioned, it will take some time to download a mobile responsive website. With the mobile app, you just need to download it once and it will be on your smartphone.
If you want to use it, simply click on it and it is ready to go. Convenience can be defined in a number of ways; speed is surely one of them. If you have a mobile responsive website, including an option for a mobile app addresses the problem of slow download time.
4. Preferred by mobile users
In the same study by ComScore, data showed that mobile users preferred the mobile app over the mobile responsive website.
Mobile users spent an average of 94 minutes per day on the mobile app compared to 72 minutes on the Internet. This is a significant difference from 31% per day.
By building a mobile app in addition to your mobile responsive website, you are providing a new avenue for end-users and prospective customers to learn more about your business.
The mobile app increases your visibility and market awareness for your products and services. It also sends a strong message to your market that you are updated on the latest technological advances.
It is more expensive to have a mobile app developed than to just build a mobile responsive website or a dedicated mobile website. But the investment you will make on a mobile app will definitely carry over to your website.
It is an investment that will address the issues related to the mobile responsive website. By having a mobile app, you will directly contribute to the overall mobile user experience of your customer.
Mobile website vs Native Mobile app (Infographic):
What should you choose?
Developing both mobile website and mobile app for your business can prove to be a costly affair. You might have to choose one of the two channels, based on your budget and business goals. While both channels have their own pros and cons, mobile apps, especially, can help you get higher conversions. Mobile apps offer greater personalization and operational efficiency, along with multiple other exclusive features.
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