Website or App? The Benefits of Mobile Apps (Part 3 of 3)
Apr 26, 2017
Welcome to the third article in our three-part series about the benefits of websites and mobile apps. In our first article, we explored the differences a website and an app, and how they can benefit your business. The second article discussed the benefits of websites in detail and how, for most businesses, a website is the best choice. To review, websites are effective platforms for delivering a lot of content and information, while apps are engaging and specific. Both are effective tools depending on what you want to accomplish. In this article, we will explore the benefits of mobile apps and how they can support business. Before that, let’s do a quick review of what apps are and look at some examples.
Mobile applications are packaged software programs that run on smartphones and other mobile devices. You can download apps on the Google Play Store (Android) and App Store (iOS). Some examples of popular mobile apps include GrubHub, Uber, and Yelp! While mobile apps can perform many functions, from gaming to communication, they all have common benefits.
7 Benefits of Mobile Apps
Personalization: Mobile apps can reach users with content specific to their interests, location, and usage behavior. Users have the option to set up their preferences within the app so it’s easy to provide them with customized content, which is essentially for increasing conversions.
Direct Communication: With an app, you can send instant, non-intrusive notifications to users. You can do this through in-app or push notifications. Users receive in-app notifications only when an app is open. Users can receive push notifications, however, at any time during mobile usage. Think of an app as a direct marketing tool. Some research shows a click-through rate of 40% or more on push notifications.
Mobile Device Features: Unlike most websites, mobile apps can leverage the native features of mobile devices to deliver a more interactive experience. Apps can access a user’s camera, GPS, contact list, compass, phone and more. This can decrease the time required to accomplish tasks and make usage more convenient.
Offline Access: Apps provide the added benefit of being available for use even when a user is not connected to the Internet. This means that users can enjoy most of an app’s functions without worrying about data usage, loading times or connectivity. Games are a good example of apps that provide a lot of value even offline.
Design Freedom: The self-contained nature of apps mean you can customize their layout and usage, which means apps are more flexible than websites. Unique functions, such as ‘tap, swipe, drag, pinch and hold’ can create a more dynamic user experience.
User Behavior: As of 2017, mobile users are spending about 90% of their usage in apps, rather than on mobile websites. This means that apps are currently the best place to reach mobile device users.
Speed & Convenience: Mobile apps are more convenient and faster to use than mobile websites. They work offline and have access to the nature features of most mobile devices. Apps also store data locally, which means it can be accessed more quickly.
Before you Build an App
While apps are very powerful, they do require a lot of planning and resources to create, distribute and support. Consider these four questions before deciding to move forward with an app.
What is the specific purpose and function of your app? Mobile users download apps for a very narrow range of functions, such as gaming, ordering food or paying bills. You need to know what, exactly, your app will do for users. It must be helpful and relevant.
What are your business requirements? Mobile apps aren’t for every business. Some eCommerce stores may not need to invest in an app, but if your services require a high degree of customer interaction and engagement, an app might be the right choice.
What is your budget for time and resources? App development can be a very intensive process because the functionality needs to be truly seamless. Also, apps require ongoing support and updates to maintain and improve over time.
Who will use it? Are you catering to existing customers or seeking a new demographic with the app? Understand the needs of your target audience and you can design your app to succeed.
Is an App Right for your Business?
If you already have an online presence, apps can be a powerful next step in your business development plan. As we discussed, apps help you interact and engage with customers, so they are a great option if this is an area you to improve. For example, consider a utility provider that accepts payments on its website, which is not optimized for mobile use. By upgrading their customer payment and account management services with an app, they could provide a significant convenience upgrade to their customers. It could also attract new customers who are interested in the convenience of the mobile app.
In conclusion, if engagement and service are what your business needs, a mobile app can be a powerful solution. If a broad web presence and information delivery system is more in line with your needs, however, then a responsive website is a better choice at least initially. Most experts advise that you have both. You should consider your business needs and use the information in this article to make the final decision.
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