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Responsive Website vs. Mobile App: Which is Better for Your Business?

Responsive Website vs. Mobile App: Which is Better for Your Business?

Most businesses recognize the need for a strong online presence in order to remain visible in today’s digital world; however, having a website is not nearly enough to boost your digital influence. The explosion of the mobile industry has not only completely changed consumers’ online behavior but also complicated their conversion journey. Therefore, in order to best reach and serve your customers, you must consider your customers’ mobile experience.

The question then becomes this: should you create a responsive design website that works across all devices or build a native mobile app that is accessible anywhere?

What are the advantages of a responsive website?
Gone are the days when a mobile website was the singular way of showing your content on a smartphone. Now, responsive design is de rigueur for most websites attempting to reach a mobile audience.

Here are the advantages of a responsive site:

  • One website: You don’t have to spend the money and the time creating separate desktop, mobile, and tablet versions of your website.
  • Immediately available and easily accessible: Consumers can access the content on any browser via any device; they are not limited to just one way of viewing the content.
  • Update site easily: Any content changes you make to the site can be pushed live immediately, making it more flexible in terms of adding, removing, or revising content.
  • Greater SEO value: Responsive design is more SEO-friendly for your website, as there is less chance of having duplicate site content. In addition, responsive websites are indexed by search engines and displayed on search results.

On the surface, it seems more advantageous to create a responsive design website. However, the answer is not quite as cut-and-dry as this.

Because smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices are constantly evolving, the question is less a matter of choosing a responsive site over a mobile app and more about deciding whether you need both. No matter your industry, people will inevitably look at your website from their smartphone or tablet at some point during their conversion journey. Therefore, if you’re refreshing your website design, making it responsive is a smart business decision, regardless of whether you create a mobile app or not.

When should businesses create a mobile app?
A current study shows that in 2014, U.S. smartphone consumers spend approximately 86 percent of their time on a mobile device using an app. Another study showed that 68 percent of consumers research products and brands on their smartphone or tablet, and out of that number, 38 percent purchase on their mobile device. Mobile is thus on the rise as becoming a primary method of online research and transaction.

Mobile apps are advantageous because they let you do the following:

  • Improve customers’ mobile commerce experience: Personalizing your customers’ shopping experience and creating a simple checkout process minimize transaction drop-offs and increase customer retention rates.
  • Facilitate in-store transactions: Showing product descriptions and reviews help new customers learn more about your brand, while in-app coupons incentivize customers to return to your business.
  • Enhance brand interactions: In-app social sharing boosts your online visibility and increases the likelihood of customer referrals, which drive business sales.
  • Accessible without WiFi: Apps can operate outside of WiFi, allowing customers to access your information anywhere and anytime on their smartphone or tablet.  

In order to determine whether you need to build a native mobile app, you need to figure out what your business goals are, analyze whether your consumers will benefit from and actually use the app, and decide from there whether a mobile app will yield you a high enough ROI to make a mobile app worth the cost.

If your main business goal is to deliver content and to increase brand awareness, then a responsive website is enough for you to accomplish your goals. Customers can find you more easily on search engines and can share your content on social channels.  However, if your main goal is to increase product sales and raise brand engagement, then you will probably require a mobile app to augment your mobile marketing efforts.