It seems like whatever it is you want to do nowadays “there’s an app for that.” But what about driving traffic to your store or improving your brand recognition?
Is it worth the cost to develop an app for your business? Or are you better off with a mobile website, possibly adapted from your existing site? If you have a limited budget, how can you best focus your mobile marketing efforts so you reach customers — without breaking the bank?
The Benefits of Apps Apps are designed to provide a seamless user experience by integrating with a device’s native applications. For example, your app may allow users to instantly find your nearest store location using the smartphone’s built-in GPS function. Your app also may not require an Internet connection, which is helpful if the user doesn’t have a strong signal or can’t connect via Wi-fi.
Apps by the Numbers From a cost perspective, however, the problem with apps is they only work on the devices for which they were designed. It can be quite expensive to develop an app for each individual smartphone platform.
In fact, according to Mashable.com, it can cost around $30,000 to create a native iPhone app — and iPhone users represented less than 7 percent of all U.S. mobile phone users as of 2010. Reaching Android and BlackBerry users will require additional investment, and again, you’ll only reach a segment of the mobile market.
Expanding Your Reach With a Mobile Website By contrast, when you create a mobile website, you can reach any smartphone user, whether the user is on an iPhone, an Android device or another mobile phone with Internet access. In this way, your marketing dollars go further, even if you can’t offer certain cool or convenient features specific to a particular mobile device.
In addition, the content on a mobile website is accessible by search engines, and it’s easier to drive traffic generated from a Google advertising campaign to a landing page on a mobile website than to an app.
Mobile Website Costs The cost of a website varies, and this applies to mobile websites as well. There are many factors to consider, such as design and photography.
The good news is there are options available to business owners looking to create a mobile website. For those on a really tight budget, there are do-it-yourself platforms for mobile websites.
If you choose to hire a professional to design your mobile site, you can save by taking a less-is-more approach: avoid background photos and multimedia that add to download times and frustrate users.
Another advantage of mobile websites is the maintenance costs are lower over time compared to apps. To update an app you’ll likely need to hire a professional; in addition, when there are changes to the device, you may need to update your app, which can add up over time.
Whether you choose to develop a mobile website or an app ultimately depends on your unique business and goals. But if you’re looking to reach the widest audience at the lowest cost, you may want to consider a mobile website as a viable option.
Your next step should probably be learning more about the cost of a website, now that you know why mobile sites may be better for you than mobile apps.
Post written by guest blogger Mary. See the WebpageFX mobile website guidelines for additional tips on developing a cost-effective mobile site.