It wasn’t so long ago that businesses were wondering if they needed a website. Today, most businesses are wondering if having a mobile-compatible website is enough, or if they need to step up their mobile strategy to stay ahead of the competition. There’s no doubt that mobile apps are a powerful marketing tool. They can give customers direct access to your goods and services and encourage brand awareness, engagement, and customer loyalty. However, different types of apps will suit different businesses, so it’s important to consider your options before deciding whether your business will need one or not.
Apps are broadly divided into three categories: native, web, and hybrid. Native apps are customised for specific platforms, such as iOS or Android, and as such can take advantage of the operating features that are installed on that device. Web apps can look like native apps, but they run on a mobile browser and are compatible across different platforms. A hybrid app seems like a native app to the user, but is actually a web app custom-wrapped for specific devices.
Native apps are fast, reliable, and can deliver a rich user experience. They are best suited to businesses that want to take advantage of device features such as GPS, address book, and camera software. Native apps run on software specific to a particular platform, so businesses considering this option should check their mobile website analytics to understand which platforms their customers are using now. If your customers are using both iOS and Android devices, expect your app development to take longer. Native apps also need to be updated when phone software is updated. If being in the app store is important to your web presence, native apps can be a good option but, unlike web apps, native apps are invisible to web search engines.
Stay in the web
A web app looks like a mobile app, but runs on a web browser. Its main benefits are its compatibility across devices and that it is available to search engines. Web apps use the same code across all devices, so they are quicker and cheaper to develop and can be updated quickly through a content management system. Payments in web apps are processed in much the same way as other e-commerce transactions. Unlike native apps, web apps need Internet access to run and they aren’t available in the app store. To market your web app, you’ll need to share its URL and encourage consumers to bookmark it so that it appears as an app icon on their device.
Be a hybrid
Many businesses want the flexibility and accessibility of the web app, but still want their app to appear in the app store. The best solution for these businesses is often a hybrid app. Hybrid mobile apps are compatible with all phones and have access to the device features. They are downloaded from an app store and are stored on the phone. Hybrid apps take longer to develop than web apps, but they can function without Internet access and upload changes when an Internet connection becomes available. The limitations of hybrid can be in payment transactions because it can be difficult to process online payments through the app stores.
Which app is for you?
Now that you’ve seen some of the options that are available to you, you really need to think about what you hope to achieve with your app. If you’re ready to take that next step, remember that the success of a business app is measured by engagement rather than on the number of downloads. You need to develop a strategy to get customers to find, download and then use your app. Keep it simple, convenient and engaging, and you’ll be well on your way to growing a loyal customer base for your business.