Mobile phone users are one of the biggest consumer groups on the planet. With 5.2 billion mobile subscribers, there are 2.5 times more mobile phone users, than all the Internet users on the planet.
As even the cheapest phones become more and more powerful and closer to the smartphone ideals, these users will easier to engage and reach than ever before. It could be a good idea to have a marketing strategy to reach these consumers. But how?
There are five options available for you:
- Targeted advertising;
- Geolocation services;
- Mobile websites;
- Mobile web apps;
- Native mobile apps.
Make your site mobile
It's a perfect option to start with. Converting your existing website into a mobile friendly version is a less time- and cost-consuming option. Here are the advantages of making your website accessible for smartphones:
- You'll appear in search engine database, which allows new users to find you;
- With your mobile-friendly website, you simply update the content through your content management system. Programming changes will only affect the server, no updates for your customers are needed;
- A native mobile application requires a separate version for each different phone platform. A mobile friendly website is viewable for almost any smartphone with a standard browser.
Enter the world of web apps
A web app is a magical combination of mobile website advantages and native application's look-and-feel. A web app is designed in a special way. Also a web app is both scalable and easily designed to work across the various smartphone platforms. Some of other benefits include:
- Less maintenance costs - a web app is easy to update and cheap to maintain;
- Users don't have to download your web app. They simply go to the URL from their mobile browser. The app can be bookmarked, so it's easy to access it again and again;
- With HTML5, there are new possibilities of accessing native smartphone features.
A disadvantage of a web app is that there is no common market, like Apple's App Store, where your app can be directly marketed to the consumers. One creative way to handle this challenge is using QR codes. On all of your marketing materials, just add a QR code that points to your web app, along with a brief explanation. Then users don't have to type in a lengthy URL - they simply scan the QR code to be lead right to your app.
A native mobile app makes difference!
A native mobile app is the superstar in the mobile world. It's just because it enables the richest development possibilities and the best user experience. One of its great strengths is the ability to integrate and make use of the mobile phone features - something a mobile site just cannot do.
If you offer the functionality in a creative and useful way, then a native app is the best choice. Example: using a phone's GPS function in the social network, a user can find nearby people based on their current location. Native apps allow the user to access their functionality without data plan usage (depending, of course, on the app's purpose).
But along with that superstar status comes a rather steep price. Native app development is not a small budget item. Therefore you need to consider carefully how your app would benefit your business and your customers in tangible ways.
What to select?
For most businesses, the decision comes down to simple ROI and budget considerations. Here are some questions to help you evaluate, what option you should select in reaching smartphone users:
- What must your app offer, that would differentiate it from a website?
- What is the goal of your mobile presence? If it is brand recognition, consider the options that are free or low-cost for the consumer. If it is another outlet for your services, then consider charging so as not to undercut yourself.
- How can your mobile presence add value to the lives of your customers?
- If choosing to pursue a native app, which phone platform will you initially target and why?
- What are your thoughts on mobile web vs. native mobile apps?
- Which of the above three options do you consider preferable for your business?