More and more of you recognize the need to go mobile with your marketing.  About 14 percent of you already engage in mobile marketing and 69 percent realize that it’s critical to your new business growth (see: “Mobile marketing boosts new business activity”). Before you can take your marketing mobile, you’ve got a decision to make – mobile website or mobile app?

While both options look similar and are designed for access from smartphones and tablets, your business objectives should help you decide the best way to go. Both platforms are effective, but each one appeals to different users and their needs. At some point, you even may decide to take advantage of both platforms. Here’s what you want to consider about each option. 

How are mobile website and apps different?

Like your company website, your mobile website consists of browser-based HTML pages that are accessed from the Internet. Your mobile website can display content, images, video and data — all of it optimized for the smaller displays and for a touch-screen interface.

Mobile apps on the other hands are actual applications that users download and install on their mobile devices and access to accomplish tasks over a network.  Apps enable users to play a game, refill a prescription, book and pay for a car rental, for example.

When is a mobile website a good way to go?

If the primary goal is to communicate your products or services to mobile users; it makes more sense to launch your mobile presence with a mobile website. With a mobile website, you can offer mobile-friendly content to a wide range of users immediately; since it’s accessible across a range of devices (iPhone, Android and Blackberry). There are no issues about compatibility.

Your reach, too, is potentially greater with mobile websites. In addition to device independence, mobile websites are easy for users to find through search results and industry-specific directories. It’s also simple for users to share mobile URLs through a simple link. They can can email or Instant Message (IM) the link or post it on social media sites.

From a development standpoint, mobile websites are easier and less costly to develop than mobile apps, especially if the latter need to run on multiple platforms. Mobile websites are more flexible if you need to make changes.  Like traditional websites, they are created with content management systems (CMS), so you don’t need to be a programmer to refresh or update content.

Is it time for your mobile business app?

Since mobile apps are built for a specific function and for a specific device, you get a lot of control over how the apps appear on screen. You also can customize the app to take advantage of a device’s capabilities – video, audio, camera, GPS and more. This means the app is a good way to go if you want to enable your users to personalize app use.

You can develop an app for  a special marketing or promotional campaign. Think of a promotional app tied to an interactive game.  Since mobile apps don’t require a connection, users can access content offline, too. This can be useful if you want to create a mobile product catalog, for example.

Mobile App or website – either one can be effective. Websites give you the broadest reach; apps give you a richer user engagement. Nice to know you really can’t go wrong either way.

Suggested additional resource:  Mobile Site or Mobile App: Which Should You build first (Infographic)

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