Mobile Site vs. Mobile App: Which is right for your business?

The demand for mobile applications (apps) and mobile sites is at an all-time high. According to recent studies (Sources: Gartner, Google Internal Data, and Cisco, in the next three years we can expect to see more users accessing the Web via mobile devices than on computers, and nearly every person will own at least one mobile gadget.

Brands are seeing the benefits of establishing a mobile presence and being able to place their products and services directly into the hands of consumers on their smartphones and tablets. What are you doing to reach this ever-growing population? If your answer is nothing, it’s time to pay attention to the rise in consumer and company adoption of mobile and its impact on digital marketing.

Before you add a mobile strategy to your business plan, there are a couple of things you need to consider. First, know the similarities and differences between a mobile site and a mobile app. Then, decide which one or both is right for your brand strategy. You’ll also want to pay attention to the key players, specifically iPhone and Android. Is your mobile experience going to be compatible with one or more of the industry leaders?

Both mobile sites and mobile apps are built for smaller screen display and thumb navigation, with phone and tablet users in mind. To determine the best route for your business, consider your target audiences, budget, and define your goals.

What’s a mobile site? When is it the appropriate choice?

A mobile site is a group of linked browser-based HTML pages accessible through Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G, and other cellular networks. It can display content, pictures and video similar to a standard website. A mobile site also boasts unique features, including click-to-call and GPS location-based mapping.

If it’s your goal to market your brand to a broad range of users on multiple mobile operating systems, creating a true mobile site is the right choice. Mobile sites have several advantages over apps, including:

  • Broader accessibility, compatibility and reach
  • Easier to update, manage, and share
  • More cost-effective
  • Drives more conversations
  • Users are more likely to search via browser

What’s a mobile app? When is it the better choice?

A mobile app is a downloadable application installed on and designed for a specific smartphone operating system (i.e. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.). Once it’s installed, most apps don’t require an Internet connection to run.

If you are looking to build an interactive game or experience, an app is your best choice. An app is also the way to go if you want to create a tool for daily use, complex calculations, or native functionality.

Do I think the need for mobile is going to go away? Absolutely not. And as we move forward in the digital age, you won’t want to be left behind.