How do you support your mobile customers?

In a previous post we explored the importance of going mobile. We saw huge regional differences, as similarly there will also be differences between target groups. One thing was clear: mobile users are an important group of users to take into account. Depending on the importance of Mobile for your target group, your online strategy could support mobile users in different ways:

  1. “Responsive website design”
  2. A separate mobile website
  3. A branded mobile App

In this post we will look at the alternatives and briefly investigate why you would want to choose each and why not.

Responsive design

In a responsive web design the same website and same content is used for all devices. A so called stylesheet (“CSS”), which is a file on your website that describes which styles should be used to display pages, paragraphs and characters on your websites is used to automatically show content attractively on different screen sizes

This mobile implementation is more than suitable in most cases, especially when you mainly have textual content and images. Not so suitable for sites still heavily depending on Flash, as most mobile  browsers do not support Flash.

A separate mobile website

Instead of using a responsive design to cater your customers, you could create a completely separate mobile website.

There are generally two ways to approach that:

  1. The mobile site contains a subset of your normal website content and that is optimized for slower devices with slower internet connections and smaller screens like mobiles and tablets. One reason to do this is that you wouldn’t want to show Full HD videos on a mobile screen. The same goes for other content that cannot easily be scaled like tables with many columns and rows of data or for Flash based content which is not supported on most modern mobile operating systems, including Apple’s iOS and newer versions of Android.
  2. A separate website with different content and functionality. This would for example be useful if your mobile users are using your website at a point of sale, while your desktop users use it typically in an orienting phase. By using two different sites, you could specifically target content for these different phases of the sales funnel.

A branded mobile App

With a branded mobile App made available in all major mobile app stores, you could  engage with users and offer them special Mobile related functionality. The advantage of an App is that when your customers are using it you can target all their attention to what you want, while a user using a website in a browser could theoretically be easier distracted.

Due to new web technologies it is becoming less and less important to use a separate App for special functionality. Also getting users to install your app requires engaging with them first. However once they have your app and if the app offers unique functionality, it can be  great tool to engage with customers.

Your choice

The first option is by far the easiest to manage and also the least expensive. Websites recently made by Apprique use a responsive web design. The 4th option is the most expensive and is even often not effective. In the Netherlands, recent research showed that 85% of the branded apps is barely used. In the end, the choice should be based on the following criteria:

  1. How important is mobile for your market?
  2. What content and functionality do you want to share with your users?
  3. What do you want to achieve from them at which touch point?
  4. Your budget.