Does your business need a mobile app?

If customers can’t find your business using their mobile, you will be missing out on sales. Mobile customers are key to successful online marketing: 61% of British adults used mobile internet in 2013, and that figure climbs when you remove the elderly from statistics, peaking with 89% of under 25s using mobile internet. Almost all mobile internet users use their phone to shop, research purchases or find stores, sometimes comparing products while they’re in store, and choosing to walk away as a result. Businesses with an eye to future growth and success are looking for an affordable, effective way to reach mobile customers.

At boxChilli, we specialise in website design, online marketing and ecommerce design. We’re passionate about our work, and strive to provide sound advice and strong products to our clients, which led us to ask the question above: does your business need a mobile app?

If you ask most online marketing firms, the answer will be yes – and they’ll charge you a certain sum to provide one. However, we’ve investigated, and while mobile apps may be the obvious choice, they’re not the only way to integrate mobile users into your online marketing strategy, and they may not be the right choice for your business. There are two main options, which we’ll discuss further:

  • A mobile app
  • A mobile website

Advantages of mobile apps – and a word of caution

A mobile app can be a great investment, and some mobile app creators have made millions. From an online marketing perspective, a mobile app has several advantages:

  • Constant presence – your customers may see your logo a dozen times a day, of their own volition
  • Push notifications – you can send messages to your app, nudging customers and adding value
  • Once the app is rolled out, further use is typically very cheap
  • Direct sales – no commission or advertising costs
  • App may pay for itself – either by charging for it or by hosting additional advertising

However, the major disadvantages are:

  • Good apps can be expensive
  • Many apps are rarely downloaded or rarely used
  • Apps must be customised for each platform and device, which can be expensive

Flexible online marketing: mobile websites

While smartphones are famous for their apps, improving web access means many users use them as a portable internet access point, loading up their favourite websites on the go. This is great news for small businesses as it means that you can leverage your existing online marketing strategies.

At boxChilli, we strongly recommend building mobile-friendly websites, investing a little extra at the development stage to create an online marketing tool that will work on many platforms. Mobile websites are an excellent online marketing tool in their own right, and can be used in conjunction with mobile apps. In fact, the simplest mobile apps are simply a link to a mobile website.

By creating a mobile website, it’s possible to gauge the level of interest and research your demographic. If a good, accessible mobile site is receiving fewer hits than the traditional version, it may be that your best customers aren’t searching for your product on the go. In which case, you’ll still be ready for them, if their habits change, without investing a fortune in a mobile app.

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