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Responsive website or mobile app? The answer may be both

by Leah Sikora
We’ve said it before, but if your business isn’t tapping the mobile market, you’re missing out on a big opportunity. If you think about it, almost every major brand (e.g. Target, Costco, Sephora, etc.) has a responsive site and a mobile app, but only about 55% of businesses in total have mobile sites. Mobile interaction with brands will soon overtake desktop. This holiday season, 68% of smartphone owners (63% of tablet users) will use their phones for shopping. Growing businesses still have the opportunity to get the jump on their competitors and join the ranks of the big brands by optimizing for mobile.

Why Responsive Sites are Essential

First, let's talk about why the majority of businesses, including those major brands mentioned above, offer responsive sites. Nearly half of consumers are conducting mobile searches and viewing content on their mobile devices. Providing your customers with an efficient, quick-loading, and pleasing view is essential to a positive mobile experience, but in addition, it is important to remember that Google is prioritizing mobile-optimized sites. The most popular search engine’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, is optimized for the conversational searches people make by dictating to their mobile devices. For search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, it’s important to rethink how you are presenting your content with conversational search in mind, but most importantly, your site must be responsive. Hummingbird ranks responsive website results more highly and will display those results first. If your website is not responsive, you’re not only driving away mobile consumers with a difficult viewing experience, you’re making it nearly impossible for them to find you in the first place.

The Power of an App

If you’ve already taken your website responsive, congratulations! You’re making it easier for almost half the population to find your site. The next step is to think about how a mobile app could benefit your business. Think of an app as an additional channel through which your customers can interact with your brand. In a global study by Compuware that thoroughly outlines consumer expectations for apps, 85% of consumers indicated that they would prefer to use an app over a mobile site. The popular perception is that apps load more quickly and consumers associate apps with productivity. Is there a feature you could provide your customers in an app that would improve their experience? Maybe you’d like to offer your customers more detailed product descriptions, give them easy access to customer reviews, or offer a GPS-enabled store locator if you have multiple locations. There are many ways to engage with customers through apps, but it must be relevant, useful, and improve their interactions with your business.

But do that many customers really care about brand apps? Some don’t, it’s true, especially if the app doesn’t function properly, or doesn’t offer convenience and an improved shopping experience. However, those customers who do use apps for shopping might choose another brand over yours if an app is offered. 85% of mobile shoppers (remember the 68% of smartphone users who will use their phones for holiday shopping) use brand apps while they are in the store. If you can offer a product that improves the in-store as well as the e-commerce shopping experience, your customers will appreciate it and likely choose your store over those competitors who do not offer apps.

These stats are both staggering and compelling and give us a small glimpse into the future of mobile. The fact that Google has made mobile-optimization a priority in its new algorithm indicates that mobile is on the rise. To stay competitive as a business in the increasingly mobile-driven marketplace, you must, at the very least, take your website responsive. If your customers could benefit from it, an app could also be a solid investment for your company’s future.

Are you ready to take your website responsive? Maybe you're ready to take the next step in mobile and want to have an app developed. Let us know how we can help you achieve your digital marketing goals.

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