Mobile websites and mobile apps each have their own unique advantages. Where web offers immediate access and wide reach, apps are able to provide a rich, convenient experience that creates and engages loyal users. As per the report published by appannie, smartphone users spend 7x more time in native apps than in browsers, and access apps more frequently. Globally in H1 2017, native mobile apps accounted for 88% of time and 93% of sessions on Android phones (the remainder was spent in browsers).
Which Approach retailers should take?
On an average, consumers spent about 2 hours per day in apps. The time spent over apps has been doubled over last two years globally. By 2021, it is expected that users will spend more than 3 trillion hours in apps globally, and industry professionals expect sustained growth across the app economy.
Despite its pervasiveness, mobile is still a relatively new frontier. Understandably there’s some confusion, and we’re commonly asked which of the options to the right are most important for a business. In some cases, there’s even a belief that the various options are interchangeable — If you have a well optimized mobile website, why even develop an app?
The truth is, all of these options have their own unique advantages, and in most cases pursuing a mobile app and a mobile website will be the appropriate answer. Yet, when it comes to regularly engaging loyal users, apps are the clear winner. With that in mind, and to help inform your own decisions, we want to highlight some of the key advantages of apps.
Here are some unique advantages of having app only strategy:
Apps Are a Critical Tool for Creating and Engaging Loyal Customers
While mobile web offers a wide reach and immediate access to new users, apps are the best place to both serve your most devoted customers and to make your users more loyal. We’re engaging with apps at an unprecedented level, with many of us using them for well over 2 hours each day. Most pertinently, appannie analysis shows that smartphone users tend to spend 7x more time in native apps compared to direct browsers. Hence, this presents a big opportunity for businesses.
Apps Offer a Highly Targeted Channel to Communicate With Your Most Loyal Users
Push Notifications are a well known used feature in marketers’ tool kits. They allow you to send adverts, recommendations and essential information directly to users’ devices which have been shown to boost retention and engagement; however, not all notifications are equal. Support is much more consistent for mobile apps — they are not currently available in all browsers — and apps also have a number of additional advantages:
â— The notification comes from your app, not the browser, which allows more control, and it looks more authentic.
â— On iOS, and soon on Android, a notification alert can be shown on your app icon, catching users attention whenever they view their homescreen.
â— They can contain richer, more appealing content such as images and videos.
â— They can contain a more meaningful call to action by triggering an action within the app. For example, putting something in a basket or opening a reply window for users to respond to a message.
â— Finally, notification from apps can be sent in response to users’ actions on their smartphones — often their location, or a recent interaction with the app. Triggered push notifications of this type demonstrate a markedly higher ROI.
Apps Offer a Faster, More Streamlined, User Experience
It’s well documented truth that a slow, poorly optimized mobile website will cause users to drop out. However, when it comes to optimizing for mobile, native apps are the gold standard. While websites must be compatible across a range of browsers, apps are designed and programmed for a particular mobile operating system (OS).
This ensures they:
â— Feel familiar and authentic to your users — Apps have access to native device inputs (swiping, pinching or clicking) as well as official OS user interface elements and style guides.
â— Run quickly and efficiently — Apps can operate while users are offline, have the ability to run in the background (for a quick startup) and can access smartphone processing power for more complex activities. This ensures delays are kept to a minimum. In fact, Facebook switched from HTML 5.0 to native apps in 2012 largely due to the dramatic increases in speed — and they wish they’d adopted the platform from the start.
â— Are easy to access — With an icon on the home screen there are no URLs and no additional steps to open a browser. In time, apps’ initial hurdle (downloading and installing) will further reduce as instant access to apps becomes increasingly common
Native apps can be designed to deliver a more elegant, tailored and elaborate user experience and they currently provide the best experience on mobile devices.
The App Stores Provide a New Way to Gain Exposure
The app stores are busier than ever. It’s an extremely competitive market, and app publishers will have to fight to earn a place on customers’ homescreens. However, it’s worth it. In our recent survey of app marketers, it has been found that organic search drives both the most app installs and attracts users with the highest lifetime value (LTV).
Despite this, many apps are not marketing themselves correctly and are placing themselves at a significant disadvantage. In contrast, a strong App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy can immediately put you ahead of the pack and give you exposure to a huge, and growing, potential market. For example, we know that 65% of app downloads on iOS come directly from a search on the App Store. By continually refining your app’s keywords, monitoring reviews and considering paid placement in search results (search ads), you have an opportunity to significantly boost your presence. This effect is further amplified if you are ‘featured’ (promoted on the homepage) by one of the App Stores — a huge boon for featured apps, and especially powerful in South Korea and Japan.