Do you need a mobile site, smartphone app or both?With mobile usage and traffic growing by huge numbers recently there is a rush to create mobile friendly versions of your website.  But it does not end there, what about a iPhone or iPad app?  What about other smartphones: Droid, Blackberry, etc? Just thinking about it can make your head spin!

I’ve had many discussions with my peers and others about what the best choice is and always come back to the same answer.  It’s contingent on your customers both current and present.  Here are the questions I find myself asking those seeking advice on mobile marketing.

  1. Should you have a mobile website? The answer to this one is easy, yes! At the very least having a mobile site gives your brand a presence that can be viewed on mobile devices. With the continued growth of smarthphones and our demand for information, having a mobile website just makes sense.  What you should do with your mobile site plan is determine what information is necessary to have on it.  You don’t need everything your main website has.  Two key items I find are a must are easy to find contact information including your phone number and your location addresses so people can call and find you on the road.
  2. Does your company or brand need an iPhone app? An app is different from a mobile website in that it does more.  An app should have some functionality that mobile users need and provide value for mobile users.  Creating an app because everyone else is doing it is a waste of money.  Plus people will download it, use it once that’s it.  Do some creative brainstorming around your product and service and ask what simple tasks would I use on a smartphone.
  3. What about an iPad app? If your website is good then it can be viewed in Safari or Opera browsers on an iPad and you don’t need an app.  But if you can come up with creative uses mentioned in the previous point above, then maybe you have the basis for creating an iPad app.
  4. Should you design for Apple iPhone, Droid or Blackberry? The answer to this question depends on your customers.  Are they iPhone or Droid users? Or even the last of the BlackBerry die hards?  Google Analytics has a Mobile report that shows how many visitors are viewing your site and the device they are using.  Another way to find out is put a survey on your website or create an email campaign and ask them.
As with any interactive project flesh out what your requirements are after brainstorming.  Don’t just tell your agency you want a mobile app or site, tell them why it’s important to your business.  They will appreciate it and most likely you’ll get a better end product.  Also if you’re seeking proposals from several vendors a good requirements doc makes it much easier to get accurate price quotes and a finished product that makes you and your customers happy!

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.