By Lance Brown, VP of Product Development at HuzzahMedia, Special for USDR
According to recent data from comScore, nearly 20 percent of U.S. Millennials access the Internet exclusively via their mobile devices. And the average Millennial spends nearly 66 hours a month browsing the web on their smartphone. Given this demographic is one of the most sought after and lucrative for businesses today, it reinforces the reasons why developing and perfecting a company’s mobile presence should be a top priority.
If your business is still missing a mobile presence, you are missing out on a huge chunk of the population. Moreover, as young children grow older, mobile Internet usage numbers will continue to balloon – and fast. There’s an entire generation of people who have no idea what it feels like to be tethered to a wall with a wire for any kind of connection. They have always had a connection on the go, and they will expect that mobile experience from the businesses they use.
When evaluating your business’s mobile strategy, inevitably you will come to the question, “Do I need a native mobile app, or can I just make a mobile website?” This question has many nuances, and depending on your business and customers, the answer will be different. A quick look at facts, though, and you can get a better idea of what MOST companies should be doing.
While a website that has been optimized for mobile will get your info packaged in a way that people will be able to access it on their smartphones, it limits what you can do with them. Native mobile apps can helps users leverage smartphone features like the camera, and also give your business the opportunity to send PUSH Notifications to your customers. Another extremely important aspect of the native app is that after it is downloaded, it is on your customer’s home screen for easy access to your business. With a mobile website, your info is only available as long as the customer has their web browser open and pointed at yoursite.
Another important consideration is that a mobile website cannot be housed in any App Store. This is a key distinction, as Apple’s App Store is becoming more and more of a juggernaut in the mobile world. In 2013, Apple customers spent over $10 billion on apps. And in December alone, App Store Customers downloaded nearly 3 billion apps and spent over $1 billion in the store.
Some businesses today think if they have a website, a mobile native app is overkill – but it’s important to take a close look at what’s best for the growth of your business, and demystify common misconceptions.
First – it goes without saying that every business today, large or small, should have some kind of online presence. The same is now becoming true in the mobile world. With smartphone sales skyrocketing, all types of customers are searching for businesses on the go (not just exclusive to young consumers). Today’s users aren’t willing to wait until they get home go online for more details about your business and its offerings, so while a standard website is a great place to start, if it’s not designed for a mobile experience, your customer will face a deficit with your business. An app in the marketplace does wonders to help your company overcome that hurdle and will give you the opportunity to target and convert customers into advocates and loyal users.
Another common misconception for small business owners is that many feel that can’t afford to build a mobile app. This one is tricky. Design and development of a mobile app can be extremely time consuming and expensive. Building a custom app from the ground up can cost as much as $40,000. Even an extremely basic tablet-based app may run as much as $3,000 or more, and you may not end with any of the bells and whistles. But there are now a growing number of companies with solutions, like Huzzah’s Mobile App platform, that offer very affordable options that have been tailored to meet the needs of small businesses.
The bottom line for businesses – don’t get left behind in the mobile movement. No matter who your customers are, a growing number of them are looking for your business on a smartphone or tablet, and it very well may be the only Internet connected device they own. So make your company visible where your customers are today – or risk missing out on their business and the opportunity to further grow yours.
About Lance Brown, VP of Product Development for Huzzah Media
Brown oversees the development and strategy for Huzzah Media. He began his career in sales & marketing for large retail brands before transitioning to positions on the small business side. Brown took his retail expertise and helped smaller boutique software companies develop CRM-based applications that focused on helping SMBs better understand how to be more efficient with their sales & marketing initiatives.