Mobile App Vs. Mobile Website: A Simple Answer to the Eternal Question

So hi, we’re Swiftic.

As you probably know, we offer a DIY app solution that lets small businesses create, promote, and manage their own custom app, enabling them to grow their profits and their loyal customers.

The thing is, we don’t only want the best for your customers, we also want what’s best for you—our customers—and this means being transparent about anything and everything mobile, from the true cost of creating an app to giving you the full picture about this hot topic.

See, we’d love for you to create your own awesome app, and we know for a fact that it can change your small business for the better. But the whole truth is, a quality mobile site can definitely help your business succeed as well.

First things first, though—let’s get back to the basics.

The Difference Between a Mobile App and a Mobile Website

A mobile responsive website is a site that has been specifically designed to look and function optimally on both personal computers and mobile devices (remember, smartphones and tablets have long, narrow screens while computer screens are wider and generally bigger).

When you don’t invest in a mobile responsive site, your standard website looks clunky and is nearly unusable on mobile devices. You don’t want that.

A mobile app, on the other hand, is a native program designed specifically for smartphones and tablets. Unlike a mobile site, which can be found on search engines and entered with a click, an app has to be downloaded from an app store and installed.

Now that you know the technical difference between a mobile app and website, let’s dig into the juicy stuff.

App Vs. Website? You Don’t Have to Choose

Here’s another moment of transparency for you: The web is filled with “Mobile app vs. website ” blog posts and infographics.

So why should you continue to read this one? Well, it’s because most of these publications have two big problems.

The first problem is the word “vs.” As you’ll shortly see, it’s not a matter of deciding which one is better, but a clever formula for knowing how to best use both to boost your business.

What type of business, you ask? Well, therein lies the second flaw. Most “app or mobile site” articles fail to recognize the fact that small businesses have different needs than most other industries.

And we’ve published this post because we want to answer the “app vs. mobile site” question without falling into either of these two traps.

We know that as a small business owner, you don’t need a flashy app or site with gimmicks. What you need is a lean, mean, sales-and-loyalty machine.

Well, we’re here to tell you this machine has two parts: The first is attracting new customers, and the second is getting them to come back for more.

Your website is responsible for the first part, whereas your app has a leading role in the second.

Why? It’s simple: If you want to succeed in business, you have to be where your customers are. And in this day and age, they are on both the Internet (mobile site) and on the home screen of their mobile device (mobile app); just at different times.

A Simple Technique to Using a Mobile Site and App to Boost Your Business

Here’s how it works.

When your potential new customers need a service or product, they search for it online. On what device are they searching for it these days? By now, you can probably guess. According to eMarketer, a leading Internet research firm, 2015 will be the first year where Internet searches on mobile devices surpass searches on desktop computers.

Basically, your mobile site’s greatest strength is that it allows your business to be found and explored on those customer searches, especially if you post relevant, valuable content on it.

So far so good, right?

But even when they find your business on the Internet and make an online purchase, there is usually nothing about a small business mobile site that gets your customers to stick around or come back for more. Which leaves you with a “buy and bye” scenario.

And this is where your faithful mobile app comes into play.

Your app, unlike your website, goes home with your customers—it “lives” on their phone. Which is why you should do everything you can to get people to download it as soon as they make contact with your business.

For example, advertise your app on your website and post “Get Our App!” signs around your store to grab your customers’ attention. You can also offer your shoppers exclusive app benefits like coupons or loyalty card rewards (e.g., “Download our app and get a free cup of coffee for every four cups you buy!”).

This way, you’re giving them good reasons to download and use your app.

When people install your app on their smartphone—the device they check the most—you’ve earned unfiltered access that is every business owner’s dream. To keep them coming back, you can issue push notifications, surveys, and special offers. Before long, you’ll see for yourself that no website can compete with the direct, ongoing connection an app creates between a business and its customers.

And that’s all there is to it—a smart, simple business move that ensures you get the maximum benefits from both a mobile app and site.

To sum up, here’s a quick summary of mobile apps and sites and their respective contributions to small businesses.

Mobile Site Mobile App
Major Advantage Getting found by new customers Getting customers to come back
Customer Access Users open a browser, use a search engine or type a specific URL, and enter website. Users open app with a simple tap on their smartphone’s desktop.
Customer Communication Usually one sided. Customers visit your site, perform an action, and leave. Two sided and ongoing. Your app stays with your customers, and you can reach them directly with push notifications.
E-commerce Option Yes Yes
Reason for Use Answers their search for a service or product they need. Rewards them for their business and gives them easy access without hassles.

Now that you know that the answer to the “mobile app or mobile site” question is making the best out of both platforms, you’re one step closer to greater small business success in a mobile world!

Hook your customers and get more repeat sales.