Don't fall into the app trap

09 December 2011
Don't fall into the app trap

There was a tipping point in the 1990s when every business had to have a website. It is now incomprehensible that an organisation might try and exist without a web presence. We're now in a new era of mobile however, and that web presence isn't enough - not if you want your customers to find you and engage with your services.

Mobile smartphones now account for around 19% of all web traffic in the UK. In September 2009 that figure was just 0.02%. The rise in mobile web browsing has been meteoric and will continue to rise as phones get faster and smarter and more people have them.

What's more, the proportion of visitors booking your services is considerably higher on a mobile site than your standard website. Google statistics suggest that 88% of people looking for local information on their smartphone follow through with an action relating to that information within 24hrs, if you have mobile optimised content. That can be, for example, looking for a hotel room or a place to dine and making a booking.

This is what we call action oriented browsing. When you look for information on your mobile phone, it is when you want to do something with that information - we tend not to casually browse on our mobile phones, it has a purpose.

We are approaching the point where you will have to have a mobile solution to reach your customers. But what should it look like?

The first choice is whether to go for an app or a mobile website. This needs to be considered carefully. Around 18% of smartphones sold are iPhones on the Apple system and 12% are Blackberry. So if you build an app for the iPhone or Blackberry, you will be ignoring the majority of the smartphone population since apps do not cross operating systems.

A more compelling answer is to build one mobile website that will work on every smartphone. Your customers use google to search for information, not the app store.

A number of brands have now built very good mobile websites, and they have the content right by limiting it to what their customers look for on mobile - their products and services and the ability to book and purchase online.

Don't fall into the app trap. You need to have a mobile solution for customers to find you - but it needs to be where they're looking - on the web and not in the app stores.

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