Ok, so you’ve heard about mobile websites & mobile apps and you’re wondering if one would be beneficial to your business. You may also be thinking if you already have a mobile optimised website, do you need an app as well. The answer is, it depends. There are specific use cases for both and understanding what each of them do is the first step in deciding which way you go.
Before we dive into the differences let’s just clarify a couple of things. In a previous article we talked about the difference between Responsive Websites and Mobile Websites. For the purposes of this article we’re going to group the two together and refer to them both as a Mobile Website. Both mean the same thing for the purposes of our discussion, a website which when viewed on a mobile device displays the content in a user friendly manner.
So, now we’ve got that lets move on and take a look at what both of them are and what is possible as far as mobile marketing goes.
A mobile website is something, in my opinion, which all businesses owners need and these days should be a standard investment. The mobile revolution is not only here, it started a while back and smart marketers along with smart businesses are making the mobile move in droves. If you’re not thinking about going mobile then you mustn’t hold too much stock in online advertising either. But I’m picking since you’ve already come this far in our article, you understand the importance of not only online marketing but catering for mobile users also. Just take a look at your Google Analytics to see how many mobile visitors your site is already receiving. Do you really want to ignore them, give them a bad experience and possibly send them to a competitors website?
A mobile website displays your site on a mobile device in such a manner that it looks custom built for that device. On a phone for example there would be no need to zoom in and out to see content, or zoom to see the tiny little menu items properly. Everything displays in a way in which your customers can easily navigate and view your site. Open your phone now and browse to our website, can you see how our site has a custom menu for phone users and all the content is displayed in one column? Now take out your tablet and do the same thing, can you see how it changes again? We can’t afford to lose customers to our competitors because of a shabby mobile offering and I’m picking neither can you.
In a nutshell that’s really all there is to it. I could rattle on about statistics related to mobile devices or how mobile users are looking for specific data when they’re on the go but that’s not what we’re here for. So a mobile website doesn’t have to be installed on any device, it’s simply just a normal website but it’s custom designed to display well no matter what screen size it is being viewed on big or small.
The major difference between the two is an app you have to download & install on your device, typically from an ‘app store’, and a mobile website is just viewed from your devices browser as normal. There are also a number of things a mobile app can do that a mobile website can’t.
Firstly push notifications can’t be sent from a mobile website, the right mobile app can however. Now push notifications aren’t a given to be delivered to every device which it is installed on, but for the price it gives mobile marketers a really smart way to connect with their customers. You can’t control what someone else does with their phone and some users turn push notifications off. Some Android devices can’t get push notifications unless the app is opened but for those who have notifications turned on and working there’s nothing better than a well timed ‘push’ to them. Imagine a restaurant sending out a ‘push’ half an hour before lunch time when people are wondering what they’re going to have for lunch that day. Or a clothing store sending one out just before a one day sale and it’s directly alerting customers straight into their pockets. Anyway, that’s the first difference.
Mobile apps can also directly access functions on your smart device like its camera, GPS, and storage to do some really cool things. So for a business the big difference is functionality. If you want customer loyalty cards, GPS locations to your business and the like, then a mobile app would be the technology of choice. Of course apps have a tonne of other uses like gaming, productivity tools, banking and accessing social media but our focus with this blog is helping business owners make smart decisions with their digital marketing.
Which ever solution you’re looking at having an understanding of the technologies is the first step. Just remember neither are technical solutions but marketing tools for you to connect and engage with your customers.