Mobile is coming! Mobile is coming! Mobile is coming! Yes, we've been hearing it for years and now that mobile has finally arrived, the debate has turned to 'do I invest in a mobile website or a mobile app?'
We should not view mobile websites and mobile apps as competing platforms, but rather complimentary ones. Your decision should be fairly easy, as it boils down to what, or rather who, is most important to your business: the customer and their preference.Background
Before I go into the advantages and disadvantages of mobile websites and mobile apps, let's revisit why mobile is an important avenue for brand loyalty and revenue growth, and no longer just a trend.
- By 2013, mobile phone online activity will eclipse the PC and mobile searches have grown by 400% in the last two years alone.
- One in 5 hotel searches on Google come from mobile devices
- 25% of leisure travelers and 33% of business travelers have made hotel reservations on their mobile device
- One in of 3 users will go to a competitor's site if yours doesn't load properly, half of all users are unlikely to return.
If your goal is to attract more customers and increase conversion, then you want to start with a mobile website. Your mobile website is searchable through mobile search engines (i.e. Google, Safari, Firefox, etc.) while mobile apps are only searchable through app stores.
You only have to build one mobile website and they require less maintenance, while you would have to build a separate app for each mobile operating system and keep up to date with new versions (i.e. iOS, Android, Windows mobile, etc.).
You may even be able to incorporate mobile into your overall design strategy. Many websites, including those built by MICROS eCommerce, are now featuring what is called "responsive design," which allows a website to transform based on viewing platform.Benefits of a Mobile Website:
- Easy, real-time edits and updates
- Compatible with all mobile browsers
- Searchable and optimizable
- Best for lead generation and conversion
- More affordable
- Can be incorporated into overall site structure via responsive design
If you already have a loyal customer base and are looking to increase engagement and streamline their purchasing process, then a mobile app is a great platform. Think Starwood Hotels or Ritz-Carlton. Both have built a loyal customer base and now can concentrate on improving and growing their customer engagement level.
A mobile app can take advantage of the multiple features included in mobile phones such as push notifications, GPS, contacts, camera phone, and integration with other apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, just to name a few.Benefits of a Mobile App:
- Builds customer loyalty and increases retention
- Focused approach, less clutter
- Faster than mobile websites
- Offline usage (however you cannot purchase without a connection)
- Users spend more time on apps
- Better "front of mind" reference on a phone's home screen
In an ideal situation you would have both a mobile website and a mobile app. We recommend building a mobile website first because it is compatible across all browsers, it is easier to update and maintain, and it's more cost effective.
According to a Nielsen study, 69% of Americans used the mobile web for hotel research, versus 31% through mobile apps. In the same study, a hotel brand or hotel aggregator failed to register as a top 10 travel app while TripAdvisor, Priceline.com, Expedia, Marriott, and Hotels.com were among the top 10 travel mobile websites.
Interested in ramping up your online strategy? Check out the full suite of MICROS eCommerce interactive marketing tools, send us an email, or give us a call +1 301.841.4700(US) +44 (0)20 3004 9468(UK).www.microsecommerce.com/about/Contact