Mobile Apps vs Mobile Websites

Purpose: This document aims to highlight the main differences between an app and a mobile website.

The Mobile App

Mobile apps are applications that are downloaded and installed on the user’s mobile device instead of simply being displayed within a mobile users’ web browser. The apps are downloaded from the app stores based on the operating system of the mobile device. Our apps are specifically created to be available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play for Android devices.

From a commercial perspective, the mobile app has long been considered a “customer retention” tool as it aims to reward and retain customers for the long term. The mobile app is very much targeted at a business’s existing customers, those customers that have already interacted with the business in the past and have built up an association with the business. Since the mobile app is focused on giving the customer an interactive experience, it aids the process of building a strong relationship between the business and the customer.

A business can allow the customer to interact via the mobile app by redeeming loyalty programs, submitting photos for competitions, booking appointments and ordering products as an example. The ease of interaction makes mobile apps an ideal way for customers to interact with the business when on the move.

The reason mobile apps provide a much richer and engaging experience for the end user is because the apps utilise the native features of the mobile device. Native features are basically the features that are built directly into the mobile device and include the camera, the voice recorder, GPS etc. A full list can be found at the end of this document.

As an example, native features such as utilising the GPS can allow the end user to get turn by turn directions to the business’s premises. Similarly, the camera of the mobile device can be used by the app to scan and unlock QR codes with regards to loyalty initiatives.

One of the key selling points for a business with regards to opting for a mobile app is the ability to send free, unlimited push notifications to potentially every single customer that has downloaded the app. Push notifications have an over 90% read rate, making them an ideal way for businesses to publicise special offers, events and promotions to customers all year round. The push message pops up on the display of the user’s handset, informing them that they have received a message.

Added to the push messages is the ability to combine the GPS element to send location based push messages within a certain geographical radius meaning businesses can even specifically target certain locations for their offers. One further benefit of push messages is the ability to send graphical messages that can include pictures such as the company logo for instance. This allows the business to tailor the push message to their requirements and further deepen the relationship they enjoy with their customers.

A mobile app in simple terms allows the business to place their business in their customer’s pocket 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since we all carry our smartphones with us all day and all night in some cases, having a mobile app on your customer’s phone will allow you to contact them all year round with a powerful push message. There is no other form of marketing out there that can achieve this aside from mobile apps.

The Mobile Website

A mobile website is a website that is optimised to display correctly on the smaller screen found on mobile devices. As things stand, the vast majority of websites out there are not mobile friendly and as a result, do not give the customers a mobile experience. Trying to navigate around a website that is not mobile friendly involves a customer double tapping the screen, pinching the screen, changing the orientation of their phone – all this effort just to find out more about the business. For the average user this is too much effort and time consuming, instead they choose to navigate away from the website.

In comparison, a mobile website is fully optimised to display correctly on the users’ mobile device. It is accessed through the browser of the users’ mobile device and requires an internet connection – either through Wi-Fi or through their data connection (3G or 4G). Like standard websites, mobile websites can display text, images and video for example. However, the mobile website will not use native features of the users’ mobile device (discussed above) such as the camera, voice recorder etc.

One of the big advantages of a mobile website is that there is no need for the user to download or install any applications onto their phone. Furthermore it works across all platforms, as long as the user has a web browser and an internet connection; therefore there is no requirement for the end user to be running specific operating systems such as Android or iOS.

The mobile website is considered to be a “customer acquisition” tool as it provides the user with a mobile experience. The majority of mobile users will find a business’s details via a search engine or links to the business’s website as opposed to directly typing in the web address into their mobile phone browser. Therefore all of this mobile traffic that a business generates can be harnessed with their mobile website.

The fact that a mobile website displays correctly on the users smartphone results in the user having a mobile experience. Just being able to navigate the mobile website easily and having access to all the key information ensures that the customer stays on the mobile website longer. As statistics show, the longer the user stays on the business’s website, the greater the chance of the user interacting with the business.  A list of current mobile website features can be found at the end of this document.

As the above highlights, there are advantages for a business to having both a mobile app and a mobile website as they have distinct uses and features. The next section of this document aims to highlight how your business can benefit from having a mobile footprint.

Your Business

Deciding what type of mobile solution can benefit your business can seem like a daunting task. However, we have compiled a short summary of some elements you may wish to consider:

  • Features

Mobile apps are clearly more feature rich when it comes to functionality as they can do much more and give the customer a true mobile experience. Utilising features such as the camera, voice recorder and GPS allows you to create a really engaging app that your customers will enjoy coming back to again and again.

  • User base

As a general rule of thumb, the mobile website will reach a greater audience than an app because it can reach out to any device with a browser. However, the app is confined to only being available for Apple and Android devices. However, a note of caution should be applied here as over 90% of the smart phone market is made up of Apple and Android devices. Therefore the odds are certainly in your favour in terms of maximising the coverage and usability of your app to your customers.

Some key statistics to remember include:

  1. Mobile app sessions are 3-4 times longer than mobile website visits
  2. Mobile apps are used two times more often than mobile websites
  3. Mobile app usage time exceeds mobile website visit time by 100 minutes each month
  • Function

Mobile apps offer your customers a much richer and rewarding experience because they are designed for specific platforms such as iOS and Android; hence they enjoy smoother functionality and work seamlessly. As a result, they avoid some of the problems that can arise when displaying your mobile website in different browsers and devices.

  • Promotion

Mobile websites give you visibility on search engines but mobile apps benefit from push notifications. The key difference here is between push and pull. Mobile websites allow your business to be found on the internet by people searching for solutions in your industry sector (pull). On the other hand, mobile apps allow you to send messages to engage with your customers (push) and entice them to interact with your business. Both methods are crucial in allowing your business to have a sustainable mobile footprint in the changing technological landscape.

  • Value

Both the mobile app and the mobile website deliver significant value and increasingly customers expect both from a business. If customers do not see you on their mobile device while searching on the internet they will most likely ignore your business. Similarly, if they cannot download your app after forming a relationship with your business, you potentially have missed an opportunity to convert that customer into a long term, loyal fan of your business.

Conclusion

As we have seen throughout this document, there are significant differences between a mobile app and a mobile website. Each has their own purpose; however, from a commercial perspective it is imperative that your business has a mobile footprint to meet customer demands, habits and preferences.  Having the best of both really does give you an advantage in the ever changing mobile world.

A mobile app will also ‘tick’ more Google boxes when it comes to Google Search Rankings.

 To see the many app facilities that would enhance your holiday park business – click here.