Sixty percent of adults now use mobile devices for research before buying offline products and services, but the majority of retailers are still missing the mark when it comes to streamlining the mobile search process for consumers. Having a mobile-optimized or responsively designed website is only one piece of the puzzle for keeping mobile users engaged. In order to build momentum and increase reach, businesses should implement dual mobile web and app strategies.
By funneling visitors on their mobile websites into native apps, businesses have a greater chance of keeping the attention of people who would otherwise be one-time shoppers. Here are five reasons why businesses should consider implementing dual mobile web and app strategies, from leaders in the hyperlocal sphere.
1. Covering the bases “When people are trying to discover a business, they are going to land on [the business’] website. Alternatively, I would say mobile apps are much better for engaging people, not necessarily discovery. The reason being is that you can send out push notifications, create loyalty programs, and sell products through the app. I think for driving new business, a mobile website is going to be better because [a business] can advertise its website, whereas driving recurring business is going to be much more effective with a mobile app, since you can reach out to your user base at any time with a simple push notification.” (Ian Blair, BuildFire)
2. App discovery “How does the local customer find the app? App discovery is tough, and once it is in the Google or Apple store it’s likely to get a bit lost. For the vast majority of local business, it is likely a waste of time to create an app that is lackluster. It is easy to add a link on a mobile site to download the app — this is easy. I think that merchants should be cautious not to provide an app that is a time-waster and a ‘mobile phone real estate-waster.’ What I mean by that, is an app that really does nothing but provide the same information that is on the mobile site.” (Annette Tonti, MoFuse)
3. Driving engagement “A better mobile experience will actually help drive people to your app to download and make a ‘permanent’ connection with you on their device. They are only prospects until they start downloading an app and using it to purchase or communicate with the store. This also allows you to push notifications to your app users alerting them of special offers.” (Mark Porter, InSequent)
4. Enabling repeated interactions “Apps inhabit expensive real estate, and not every customer will download one. But those who do will find themselves part of a community that extends far beyond the confines of a storefront. Out-of-store, customers can receive geographically-targeted push notifications that announce sales, provide coupons, or include pictures of new merchandise. In-store, they can be rewarded with digital loyalty programs, scratch cards gifts, and personalized discounts. Mobile payment integrations allow customers to order food or purchase items directly through the app, and social elements such as shared photo albums, forums, surveys, and feedback forms enhance communication between the business and its customers, and the customers and each other.” (Dror Erez, Como)
5. Search results “For a local business, it all depends on the vertical that the merchant is in, and more specifically, how functional the app could be for the user. Apps are best when they are about ‘repeated functions,’ which can be specialized to interact with our environment. That said, mobile web-responsive sites can also interact with location and are far less expensive to create and maintain. Every local business needs a mobile-friendly site, or they will no longer show up in Google search results as of April 21st.” (Annette Tonti, MoFuse)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.