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Today’s mobile shoppers are more research obsessed than ever. Intrigued by the thrill of the hunt, they spend time scouring mobile sites and apps to find the best products, deals, and reviews—demanding fast and frictionless experiences along the way. While people don’t have a strong affinity toward one format over the other, apps and mobile sites serve unique needs in shoppers’ increasingly complex journey. To better understand how both platforms are driving purchase decisions, check out these four insights that are sure to frame your mobile marketing strategy.

Apps are perceived as easier to use than mobile sites

Apps have long been viewed as the defacto platform for engaging loyal customers. But even among the most loyal of customers, apps need to earn their spot when real estate is limited and precious. Recent Google research shows that 87% of people say they can be loyal to a brand without having its app on their phone.1 In fact, 53% of smartphone users say they do not have their favorite brand’s app installed on their phone.2

Awareness and low consideration are the biggest barriers preventing users from downloading a brand’s app. As proof, 42% of those who haven’t downloaded their favorite brand’s app have never considered downloading it,3 while 25% didn’t know their favorite brand had one.4 “I won’t download just any app. … I want my phone to be neat and tidy and don’t want any rubbish. Plus, storage space can be limited,” said one consumer. Brands have an opportunity to educate customers on the unique benefit of an app, rather than just assuming people will organically stumble upon it.

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But don’t try to earn a spot on people’s phones by forcing them to download your app. Forced downloads can be perceived as a gimmick, and 63% of people say that when a brand forces them to download an app to access a deal, they will typically delete it shortly thereafter.5 People voiced frustration when a download was necessary for a deal, especially when they weren’t ready for that more “permanent” relationship. There’s a balance to strike when building awareness to ensure you’re not turning people off.

People use mobile sites to dig deeper

People turn to a mobile site for direct access to a brand’s website or to broaden their hunt across several sources. Often, mobile sites fulfill a customer’s need to learn about, engage with, and make purchases from a brand without needing to resort to an app. In fact, two in three people say they can achieve the same goal on a brand’s mobile site as they can on its app.6

In our research, we found that, in some instances, people will switch from an app to a mobile site when shopping, browsing, researching, or purchasing. This is especially true when they want to go directly to the source, if they’re more familiar with the mobile site, or when they want to broaden their search.

Mobile site experiences can help or hurt your brand

The stakes are high when it comes to mobile site experiences. Most people expect their experience on a brand’s mobile site to be as easy as their experience on the app. When a mobile site doesn’t live up to expectations, people look for another that will.

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Having a mobile site that’s slow or hard to navigate doesn't just hurt short-term conversions, it impacts a person’s perception of a brand. More than half of people say they look poorly on brands with mobile sites that are not designed for use on a smartphone.7

More importantly, it could destroy the relationship someone has with a brand. Nearly half of people say they won’t consider purchasing from a brand that has a poorly designed mobile site.

Let your app and mobile site work together

With over 40% of online transactions happening on mobile,9 it’s easy to see why creating a friction-free mobile shopping experience across apps and mobile sites is key. Both platforms offer specific benefits to users. But the advantage they pose for marketers is their ability to complement each other. Whether it’s using your mobile site to build awareness for your app or using your app to drive sales via your mobile site, the opportunities for success are there. Empower your users with investments in mobile platforms that will keep them coming back.