Does Your Business Need A Mobile App Or A Mobile Website?


As a business owner it is always tempting to look for the magic bullet, so it’s no surprise when I am asked by business owners whether an app would be a good idea. Now of course, as the number of consumers accessing online information through their mobile devices rapidly grows beyond 50%, it would sound like a no-brainer, but…

Call me a killjoy, my answer is once again “back to basics”!

The famous 5 profits multipliers are the main 5 areas where you can increase your business revenue:

1)      Getting more leads

2)      Getting more conversions into clients

3)      Increasing your average sale value

4)      Increasing the number of repeat sales with existing clients

5)      Growing your profit per sale

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Would an app magically help your business “virally attract” more leads and convert more customers (# 1 and #2) via their mobile device? I would say in most cases, probably not.

Remember apps are rarely found through a Google search, except for directory style apps that are generally offered through aggregate content websites like “Auckland Restaurants-CBD”. Consumers will have to know about your business, go and look for your app via your website or the app store, and then find your product or service compelling enough to actually download the app. This requires that they already know, like and trust you enough, and are happy to receive your offers, newsletters etc…

So if you want more leads and more conversions your first need to be found more easily via web searches. A mobile website is much more likely to do that job for you. Firstly a mobile site or mobile responsive can improve your Google ranking, and secondly it definitely improves the first impression for mobile users hitting your website for the first time. Most importantly though a mobile site just requires one step for users to access, as opposed to an app.

Will an app improve your average sale value (#3)? Possibly, if it improves the way your product offerings are displayed, giving you leverage to generate up-sales. In most cases, a good mobile website will do the same for you, except if you are in ecommerce and your app facilitates online purchasing. However, up-selling through your mobile presence still remains a low probability in my view: human contact does that best.

Now would repeat sales (#4) be enhanced by your app? Yes indeed, because apps greatly improve the customer experience and most importantly can be accessed offline once downloaded. Offline access is only a benefit for information gathering though, as interaction with your business will require web access.

Restaurant chains like Subway have created a successful app, and use this for push notifications, special events, social-media and loyalty programs. So I would give the App five stars if your product or service is likely to be very high repeat purchase or requires frequent use under high security norms: Banks are a good example.

Once again though, for most businesses to manage their customer relationship, a mobile website will carry the same benefits, and for a smaller investment, without the need to have an app accepted by the app store, compatible with Android and HTML5 devices etc…

As for item #5, increasing your profit per sale, an app or a mobile website will only do that if they help reduce the cost of customer acquisition. This was covered indirectly under lead generation (#1) and conversion (#2).

In summary your business definitely needs to conquer the mobile space as it becomes the preferred platform of interaction by users , but once you have overcome the initial attractiveness of apps as a magic tool, you must look at mobile marketing strategically, with ROI in mind. Get very clear on the real benefits that an app would bring versus a good mobile website. In more than 95% of cases you will find that a mobile website will be just as beneficial or even more beneficial once compared to the costs.

How about your business? Have you done the research and are you planning to tackle the mobile sphere? I welcome your comments!