What’s your preference – mobile app or mobile web site? If you are like me, I appreciate the quickness and focus of a well-designed app. And I am happy to discover a well-design mobile web site. Both, in other words.
A preference for both
“…32.6% of US mobile device users prefer to use both a mobile app and a mobile browser at different times. Taking a closer look, 19.6% of respondents said they preferred a mobile browser, and 23.1% of mobile device users said they favored mobile apps. Some 24.7% said they had no preference.”
Why do we like both? The Quixley study found:
“When it came to why users liked mobile apps, 28.3% said they provide a better user experience. Additionally, respondents liked that apps offer access to more features and capabilities and that they have push notifications and alerts.
… Some 20.5% of respondents said they didn’t like that mobile browsers weren’t as fast as an app. The fact that the user experience wasn’t as rich and there were no push notifications were other reasons respondents disliked mobile browsers.”
The future of either
With consumer behavior clearly split, what is a major brand to do when forming a sustainable mobile strategy to support marketing and customer experience? No one wants to invest in a costly strategy that may quickly become obsolete. Small, smart devices like phones aren’t going away any time soon. The size of the screen may continue to stretch or squeeze, but the utility of a hand held, pocketable, connected device will not diminish any time soon.
The browser-based Web continues to be a tremendous access point for information. Given ubiquitous connectivity to the Internet, the mobile web will remain important for the foreseeable future.
That leaves mobile apps. Will they be around in 5 years?
There is really no way to know this for certain. When you read the many POVs on line they really fall into three buckets:
- The mobile web advocates who believe the feature set of the mobile web will improve and make apps obsolete. These views tend to oversimplify the many types of customer relationships and often ignore the service brand
- Those that acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of both native apps and mobile web. These tend to support the notion that both will continue to evolve for some time.
- The innovation enthusiasts who see an evolving future for apps with new streaming capabilities, Web interoperability and new app form factors around notifications and alerts.
Mobile apps for service brands
If you have an enduring relationship with a customer via service like a bank, an insurance company, a credit card company, then you can likely find a compelling business case for a mobile app. It improves your chances of delivering additional value and a superior customer experience. Just notifications makes the app worthwhile. Add the quickness of a well-designed app and the ability to push updates and the strength of the app in a service relationship is clear.
Personally, I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in analyzing the ROI based upon current development costs. Those will go down. Third party app providers will make it even cheaper to deliver white label solutions. If you are a service brand, you no longer have to aspire to become one of the top 50 apps to ever hope that your customers use you. You deliver service that customers need and provided you improve that via a mobile app, they will use you when it matters most. You can even expand the definition of what matters to them.
In the insurance space, carriers know that the claim experience can be improved via mobile services and tools. See these examples of claim service enhancements via mobile.
Insurance carriers may broaden the relationship and interactions they have with customers. See these examples of mobile apps from insurers that go well beyond claims. Some may become winners, many will fall by the wayside. This type of exploration is important.
Create great apps for your customers, it's worth it
Mobile apps will likely evolve and continue to deliver a faster, more focused customer experience. If you are a service brand and want to improve your customer experience, then create and sustain a great app experience even as you improve the mobile web experience. Customers have spoken.