Since app usage has surpassed desktop usage, businesses have become increasingly aware of embracing a mobile strategy to improve their customer services. Millennials are accustomed to and expect instant results at their fingertips, be that checking their bank balance, ordering food, clothes, even exercising. They will not spend time trying to figure out how to use a platform, as the user experience should be simple and efficient. It is for this reason there are no signs of the mobile app industry slowing down. In fact, from 2016 to 2017, time spent per day on mobile has increased by approximately seven minutes, reaching a total 3 hours and 15 minutes per day. And time spent on desktop decreased by one minute. Simply put, if companies are not conscious of where customers are spending their time and do not act on it, they will lose out.
So what’s the difference between a mobile app and a mobile optimised website?
A mobile optimised website is a website that consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together. This means that your website adjusts to different phone screens, but is not built solely for mobile. Mobile optimised websites are becoming increasingly standard in all industries.
The benefits of mobile apps:
Brand Presence & Push Notifications
One benefit of having a mobile app is that it is always on your customer’s phone, so even when a customer is not using your app, they are reminded of it on a daily basis. Consider it as a form of advertising, but this time, the advertisement is ever present.
Additionally, as a business trying to enhance brand presence, you can send your users push notifications. For example, I just received two push notifications - one from ASOS; “50% off 500 things is back!” and one from Airbnb; ‘Travel trends suggest a 125% increase in searches for Venice. We recommend booking soon.” This is a huge benefit over mobile optimised websites as firstly, a mobile optimised websites can only be reached if a user is already thinking about your brand and searches their browser; and secondly, it shows that businesses can use analytics to see what you are searching for, and thus tailor notifications.
Another benefit of mobile apps is that you can make use of the phone’s native functionality. For example, a mobile app can use a phone’s camera, torch, GPS location, push notification functionality and more. This is engaging for users as it means they can achieve tasks in-app efficiently. Unlike this, a mobile optimised website cannot make use of these features and often is content-based, showing informative text and images.
If your business has a mobile app, it is much easier to offer customers a personalised experience. Mobile apps let users set up their preferences when they first download the app and customise the experience to suit their needs. This provides you, as a business, with valuable customer information, which you can use to promote specific offers to individuals. Mobile apps can also identify a users location, meaning that as a business, you can provide users with geography-specific content such as a deal at a nearby store. This gives you as a business the upper hand over other stores in the area who may only have a mobile optimised website. Mobile optimised websites cannot use a customer's geographical location to their advantage, and instead must show the same content to every site visitor.
Simpler User Journey
Another benefit of having a mobile app is that they offer users a much more simple user journey. As mentioned previously, users do not have to search for your brand, they simply tap on your app and are guided through an efficient user experience to complete a task. The more simple an experience, the more likely a user will convert and invest. The easier something is to buy, the more likely a user is to buy it!
Another benefit of mobile apps is that an app can be used offline. This means that an app can be used in dangerous circumstances, for example underground if you are an engineer. Unlike this, a mobile optimised website must have an internet connection.
Overall, mobile apps are much more user-friendly and efficient than mobile optimised websites as they allow users to complete tasks quickly and effortlessly. This means more engagement for your business, enhanced with push notifications and exciting native features. Although mobile optimised websites are great, the fact that they are mainly content based makes them limited compared to an app.