Increasingly, people are using smart phones and other mobile devices to access the Web – and if you’re not easily accessible on their device, a user won’t think twice about going to your competitors instead.
There are multiple options for capturing the attention and interest of mobile users, each with their own pros and cons. Depending on your needs, you may wish:
- To build a separate mobile version of your website (also called a web app)
- To build a website with a responsive, mobile-friendly design that will work on any device
- To build a native app that users can download and keep on their mobile devices
So how do you decide which option is best for you? And, once you’ve picked a format, how do you get it in front of the people most likely to use it?
Native vs Web Apps
A native app is one made to work on a particular device – such as Android or Apple. It is a program that is downloaded to a user’s device and can be accessed without using the Internet or mobile data. A web app, meanwhile, is a mobile-optimized website. It can only be accessed online, but it is pulled up in a web browser and does not need to be downloaded. Both can be valuable, but they serve different purposes.
If you’re offering a service that a user will need on a routine basis, a native app can be a good choice. For example, car insurance companies often have apps that offer proof-of-insurance, mobile bill pay, and the ability to file a claim.
For most companies, however, a native app is unnecessary. They are costly to develop and work only on the device they’re created for. They’re also much harder to market than a web app – and when it comes to being found online, having a search-engine-optimized mobile website is absolutely crucial.
Mobile Site Optimization and Marketing
People generally click on one of the first three search results, and they’re far more likely to choose an app from the “top 10” list of the app store for any given category. That means that getting your message in front of potential users begins with boosting your search results.
This is one place where mobile websites greatly outshine apps. Reaching the “top 10” in the app store requires your app to already be selling well – a feat that requires a huge marketing budget, sometimes even higher than the app’s development costs.
A mobile-friendly website optimized for search engines, meanwhile, puts your site in front of an audience that is already interested in what you have to offer. Boosting that signal with a little paid marketing – like advertisements, mailing lists and social media campaigns – will give you a big head start, but the SEO will speak for itself.