Over half of the adult American population has a smartphone. This ownership often leads to reliance on the device. Many people feel naked without it. The question remains, if your business doesn't have any type of mobile representation, what are you waiting for? Lightning-fast internet speed keeps user on their phones and has taken over their need for browsing on laptops or desktops.
There are a few ways to reach the customers who are on the go as long as you find the right way to do it. The two most popular ways to reach customers through their phones or tablets is by an app or a mobile version of your larger site.
Mobile websites can be acquired in a few different ways. Site builders often provide packages that automatically convert your content for mobile screens. If you only have a traditional URL, you can use a mobile-website builder to build or transfer the content for responsive websites. Having a mobile site is a no-brainer. If you are concerned about gathering a larger audience, creating an attractive miniature version of your site is a necessity. Your content, images and information are already on the site, so you should make it available without users having to zoom in on an ugly design.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to a mobile site. As the owner of a site, you don't spend much on the creation, possibly a few dollars per month for hosting at most. Also, you can edit your business information with very little effort. Mobile sites are also available through every device. The problem with mobile sites is that you need at least a Wi-Fi connection to access the page. Also, a mobile site has very little integration with the tools available on your phone, such as the camera and GPS.
A mobile app is a good long-term solution. It should build on the mobile site you have but shouldn't precede it in level of priority. Mobile apps take up real estate on smart devices, so you either use it to reward loyal customers and keep retention high or to provide deals to garner new customers.
Apps are meant to be a down-the-road scheme because they are typically a weighty investment, nearing into the tens of thousands for development costs. A downside comes with having to submit the app to every application service, the most important being iTunes and Google Play. However, the advantages of an app generally outweigh the initial costs. Your app doesn't need an internet connection in order to show up. Also, ads work far better on apps than they do for mobile sites. Even if your app is free to download, the financial advantage of including marketing is far easier to capitalize on. With better reporting and device integration, an app is a great way to stay connected with your audience rather than just showing up every time a customer searches for your brand.
The answer to creating a mobile site or building an app is that both need to be done. Your first priority is to create a simple, responsive site that can transfer across every device. Once you've built your audience and grown your business, the investment of building an application is worth it and becoming increasingly necessary for a mobile audience that continues to expand.