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Ahead of the Apple App Store’s fifth birthday next month, some brands are beginning to seriously weigh up the benefits of investing in a dedicated app versus optimising their existing sites for mobile.
Choosing the most viable mobile strategy is now a major element in most businesses’ plans, and this is the key message emerging from the Mobile Experience Trends Briefing, which we recently launched with Econsultancy.
Successful mobile strategies require brands to have visibility into the customer experience and adopt a sensitive, flexible approach towards customers’ requirements.
They need to work out if an app or a mobile optimised site best serves those needs. The final decision will lie in which works best for the target audience.
A successful mobile strategy aims to eliminate the issues that cause customer struggles on mobile devices and with that in mind, I’ve proposed three key objectives brands need to work with in order to make the most of mobile.
Start with the customer: get insight into your mobile consumers
For many businesses, the mobile customer is still something of a grey area. Research by IBM Tealeaf and Econsultancy in 2012 found that 41% of businesses rated their understanding of online customer experience as good, while just 15% said the same of mobile user experience.
How companies rate their understanding of the mobile user experience (compared to the overall online customer experience):
Understanding mobile user experience needn’t be a dark art. Analysing traffic sources throughout the day and building a clearer picture usage patterns can quickly establish fruitful mobile-user profiles.
The suggestion is that mobile use is intent-based or task-oriented – businesses simply need to ensure they simplify the path through their mobile site that they want users to take.
Decide up front which works best for the customer, an app or mobile-optimised site?
There’s still a level of uncertainty amongst businesses over whether to focus on apps or optimised sites. Whichever approach businesses choose, it must be the right fit for the target audience - the pros and cons must be carefully weighed against the end user benefits.
A combination of strong HTML5 development and certain stigmas attached to corporate apps mean some businesses are deciding to drop them completely and focus on mobile optimised sites.
That’s not to say apps are losing relevance. As the Apple App Store reaches its fifth anniversary, it is now home to more than 900,000 apps.
They can still provide a rich, focused experience that particularly benefits those promoting mobile loyalty cards and retail coupons. The popular The Body Shop app, near identical to the company’s mobile offering, is a prime example of this.
Optimise your mobile site presence: identify mobile adoption struggles
Even where businesses have reported strong mobile traffic levels, cart abandonment rates are still high. Here, customers have become frustrated at poor mobile site optimisation and overly complicated journeys to the point that they have simply dropped out – and it’s revenue that takes the hit.
Many users still prefer to complete their transactions on a desktop or in-store, with uncertainty surrounding mobile payments playing a key part in this. Consumers need to see widespread adoption from stores and services before they’ll be comfortable with mobile payments’ safety and convenience.
Keeping these customers on the mobile site relies on stripping out complexity from the site and utilising proven approaches to mobile success.
Online coupons and vouchers, for example, work best on mobile due to the decreased likelihood of them being lost or redeemed by the wrong person compared to their real-world counterparts.
With IDC suggesting that mobile web use will surpass PC internet access by 2015, it’s crucial that businesses understand how to enter this arena successfully sooner rather than later.
Mobile sites and apps shouldn’t be viewed merely as peripheral channels – the value they to offer businesses is too great. Most organisations recognise this, but that doesn’t mean they will get it right. They only have one chance with mobile and they risk losing out if they don’t change – now.
Mobile has arrived, and only withtrue understanding of customer behaviour can businesses take a more informed approach to mobile and better meet the very unique requirements of mobile shoppers.