Both apps and mobile web play important roles in a successful online strategy. However, they play different roles based on your business goals and priorities. Having a strategy for both allows you to reach current and potential customers with the formats best suited for the moments that matter to them.

Mobile Web and Apps: It Shouldn’t Be Either/Or

You may have seen the headlines declaring that apps have won and the mobile web is dead. The research supporting these claims looks pretty compelling. It’s based upon user behaviour data that highlights how much time users are spending in apps vs. on the mobile web. However, this does not mean that consumers aren’t using the mobile web. They are, and in ways that matter materially to your business and its success. From a business point of view, our recommendations remain the same. Both apps and mobile web play important roles in a successful online strategy. However, they play different roles based on your business goals and priorities. Having a strategy for both allows you to reach current and potential customers with the formats best suited for the moments that matter to them.

Most consumers’ first touchpoint with a brand on mobile is still on the mobile web. In fact, research in the UK has highlighted that 66% of new visitors’ first touchpoint with a brand is on the mobile web.1 So, it’s important to have a great mobile web experience for acquiring new customers and for existing customers who haven’t downloaded your app. Apps, on the other hand, are important for different reasons: 1) to encourage repeat uses (if frequent repeat usage is key to your success) and 2) for loyalty and retention of your power users. We’ve highlighted some of our best practices and recommendations below.

Why you should prioritise both mobile web and app development

Mobile web and apps are important because all customers behave differently, and you should aim to provide the best experience for them, no matter how they choose to interact with you. The ideal is to have both a great mobile web experience and a killer app. If you think about your customers, you may be able to put them into three buckets: your most loyal customers, customers who engage with you from time to time, and consumers who have had limited engagement with you (perhaps they have visited your site but taken no action). Each of these customer segments will interact with you differently. Customers who have had limited engagement with your brand are most likely to interact with you on the web. Some casual shoppers may have downloaded your app, but many may not have. Your most loyal customers are the most likely to have downloaded your app, in order to facilitate repeat purchases or transactions.

By evaluating how each customer segment engages with you, you can start to focus your marketing efforts. For example, you may use Remarketing Lists for Search ads to push repeat customers to download your app. Or, you may employ an app re-engagement strategy to remind loyal customers who have already downloaded your app to engage with you again. In other words, having both a great mobile site and mobile app will allow you to provide not only the best experience for your customers, however they engage with you, but also allows you to tailor your marketing efforts more effectively.

In summary, here’s how we think about mobile web and apps working together:

Mobile Web: New-user acquisition & casual shopper engagement

  • You should also aim to:
    - Fully optimize the mobile experience
    - Ensure your call to action and the site’s capabilities are seamless

Mobile App: Delight Repeat Customers

  • Apps are a better experience for high-frequency use. You should also:
    - Identity unique capabilities that your app will offer
    - Ensure customers understand the benefit of downloading and installing your app

How Google Can Help

For additional reading on mobile best practices, check out our multiscreen collection on Think with Google, which includes an article on the 25 principles of mobile site design.

If you want to encourage downloads or engagement in existing apps, please visit our App Install and Engagement recommendations in our mobile best practices.

Source

  1. Nielsen UK Android Panel, February 2013