Apps VS Mobile Web for Local Business

34 replies
I've read a bunch of threads about this never ending debate, but can you please chime in with your opinion and tell me how you can justify building mobile apps for local businesses?

Look I get it..in certain situations an app is the right fit, if you can actually get a fish to bite the profit potential is big, but how can you honestly say that building apps for Tony&Tony's Law office or Guido's Auto Mechanic is the right mobile strategy for the client?

Please enlighten me.
#apps #business #cms #local #mobile #web
  • Profile picture of the author Amber Jalink
    The problem I have with this concept, is how many people want say 5 different restaurant apps sitting on their phone? I personally wouldn't, but then I don't eat out a lot. (Choice - healthier not to lol).

    But even still... I think it would be practical for businesses like auto shops, because they could push reminders for oil changes, regular servicing etc. but not sure myself that a mobile site wouldn't be enough for most.

    I know one argument has been that usually a mobile site has minimal info, and an app can hold a lot more - but frankly that argument doesn't wash with me, because if a person has a truly responsive (or html5 if not wordpress) website design, then their entire site is mobile right from the get-go and can include all the info they want.

    Just my 2 cents.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6166251].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author xlfutur1
    A mobile website can easily be turned into an Android app at appsgeyser, so its nice to give people an opportunity to download it to their phone. It also redirects to the mobile site when the main site is visited from a mobile. Having an app download available adds alot of value and functionality to the mobile site itself, esp in the biz owner's mind.

    Push notifications are ok, but i think they are over rated. Why not just build an SMS list for the client instead? Push notifications will only go to the people with the app on their phone, but SMS will go to everyone who opts in, and they don't need a "smart" phone to get on an SMS list. Much bigger reach IMO. Amber is right, ALOT of people won't download the app to their phone because that is valuable real estate, but they will opt into an SMS list.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6166324].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    Amber, great point regarding the Push Notifications! That would be a huge benefit for an auto shop.

    What I have noticed is businesses "think" they need an app but they are not sure why or how they will really benefit.

    xlfutur1 Couldn't agree with you more SMS can accomplish pretty much the same thing as native push notifications if implemented and bundled properly with your mobile site.

    Thanks for the feedback!
    Signature
    [
    brick&mobile
    Click here to start your
    Mobile Marketing business
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6166504].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Amber Jalink
      "What I have noticed is businesses "think" they need an app but they are not sure why or how they will really benefit. "


      Hype. It's the "in" thing - sit around with friends for 15 min, and as soon as someone has their phone out, they're raving about the newest/coolest/funnest/(etc) app they downloaded.

      I think that's why businesses are noticing it and are told they should have it - to be on that "real estate" of a person's phone... just like years ago, it was the "in thing" to try to get everyone to have a desktop app/icon on a person's pc... heck, I try to minimize how many icons are on my desktop, so I never saw the point on this one. (And although I have a blackberry, I still hide most of the icons on my phone lol)

      And the simple answer for push:

      Give people more than one option.

      i.e., most apps are for iphone/android. Blackberry users typically have to just use a mobile site as (till now) its not all that easy to get a blackberry app done (or cheap).

      So people could offer a QR code to scan to opt in via SMS, or download the app depending on their phone.

      That's of course "IF" a business REALLY wants their own app.... as I said, practical for some, others... eh. not so much.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6166677].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author rjohnsen
      I'm finding that more companies are developing "apps" for businesses that in reality are nothing more than mobilized Web sites. That includes the companies that feature DIY "app" building online.

      I think the proper term for those applications is "Web apps".
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6166691].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
        rjohnsen But is it a feasible option for a local business to even bother with a DIY app builder? What benefits can they get from having their own App aside from the "cool factor" and the ability to send Push notifications? I've seen some amazing mobile websites that in my opinion will give a local business much more value then an App can ever provide.
        Signature
        [
        brick&mobile
        Click here to start your
        Mobile Marketing business
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6167960].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author rjohnsen
          I agree true "Apps" are not really necessary for most small, local businesses. I don't think I was clear about that.

          I wasn't clear with my usage of "DIY", either. I meant that developers like you and I could DIY an app using a third-party development system such as the ones mentioned in other threads on WF.

          Bottom line opinion from me is that I can provide the small business with all the functionality needed to conduct adequate business functions via a mobile device - easy dialing, mapped location, contact form, basic who-what-where information - with HTML/PHP pages. I'm not talking about a site that completely mimics a desktop site, but one that gives the user a great experience on a mobile device and imparts the needed information to allow the user to make a decision on whether or not to enter a relationship with the business.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6168329].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author shirsc2
            I agree with Kevin. Mobile websites can provide additional benefits to anyone who comes in contact with your site. It's highly unlikely that a newbie to your business is going to download your app just because you have one. Unless i have a need for an app, i won't just download one for the sake of downloading it especially for a local business.

            Imagine how many apps you would have on your phone if all local businesses you went to had one. I'd rather just go to the website and do everything from there.
            Signature
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6168695].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    Just to make it clear I think Apps are great.

    In the right circumstances. I am by no means "Anti-app" but I am against Apps for local business, it simply doesn't make sense. With that being said if Vinnie's Pizza down the street approached me to build a custom app, I wouldn't turn the business away by any means.

    What I would do is explain the pros and cons of apps vs mobile web and let them make an educated decision based on the facts and go from there.

    Is there anyone out there that has been successful selling apps to local businesses? Please share your stories.
    Signature
    [
    brick&mobile
    Click here to start your
    Mobile Marketing business
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6169473].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author dantehicks
    @Kevin: I work with mostly the "Vinnie's Pizza's" of the world, and 85% of the time a mobile web app is a perfect fit for their needs. Having worked with local SMB's for many years, I've learned that a lot of these business owners are A-Type and love the "shiny new object." So a lot of times, they are already convinced they need an app. Either because their friend has one, their competitor just launched one, or because it's a buzzword they keep hearing. They feel like they're missing out.

    That's when I put on my consultative hat and find out why he feels he needs an app. In most cases, a "mobile web app" achieves exactly what he was looking for - at a fraction of the cost a traditional "app" would have cost him.

    One thing I would like to add - SEO is a big advantage for mobile web apps. Especially when it comes to Local Search. Get the consumer the info they're looking for ASAP. Mobile web apps don't make you jump into "app store eco-systems," enter your password, wait to download, etc.

    Especially on Android - I remember when I had crappy little Android device and the memory maxed out after downloading like 10 apps. Whoops, there goes another consumer - off to visit your competitor's mobile web app!

    Good topic, looking forward to hearing more feedback.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6170356].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    @dantehicks exacttly!

    You bring up a VERY good point that many people often overlook when it comes to developing apps for local business.

    SEO !!!

    Google is integrating directly into many of the mobi OS's available so when people want to find what they are looking for they simply do a quick search in Google (I know I do) on their mobi. SEO will pretty much be irrelevant if you if you have a Mobile APP for a local business, which is not forward thinking as Mobile searches are growing exponentially.
    Signature
    [
    brick&mobile
    Click here to start your
    Mobile Marketing business
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6174221].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author londoncoffee
    Guys, this is an interesting debate. I am sure that we will see an overkill of web apps, mobile app, free online app makers popping up everywhere.
    This is just a new paradigm what business owners must address, like emails taking over from written letters. There will be much confusion and debate on what is better. It really depends on what you're offering.
    I personally go with Kevins view on mobile websites being the better option. How long before everyone has created a FREE app using one of the 100 app makers online?
    Everyone will soon get sick of QR codes and biz apps!!
    But good design, functionality and aesthetics will always stand the test of time.
    Look at mobileawesomeness.com to see how designers are embracing the limited mobile browser real estate. Look at sortfolio.com to see what companies charge clients. We will see the backroom cowboys selling their app wares to companies and you and me. They won't even need to know HTML5 or Graphic design. They will come and go regardless. I am learning responsive web design as an additional tool and also jquery mobile - if clients want a mobile website with touch enabled functionality. But mobile browsing takes place under different lighting conditions; people are on the move, have shorter attention spans etc. Apps were originally something native and unique, costing businesses a fortune. People will soon tire of downloading apps that look like a million others.
    Good custom design will live on..
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6174441].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Amber Jalink
      Originally Posted by londoncoffee View Post

      Guys, this is an interesting debate. I am sure that we will see an overkill of web apps, mobile app, free online app makers popping up everywhere.
      This is just a new paradigm what business owners must address, like emails taking over from written letters. There will be much confusion and debate on what is better. It really depends on what you're offering.
      I personally go with Kevins view on mobile websites being the better option. How long before everyone has created a FREE app using one of the 100 app makers online?
      Everyone will soon get sick of QR codes and biz apps!!
      But good design, functionality and aesthetics will always stand the test of time.
      Look at mobileawesomeness.com to see how designers are embracing the limited mobile browser real estate. Look at sortfolio.com to see what companies charge clients. We will see the backroom cowboys selling their app wares to companies and you and me. They won't even need to know HTML5 or Graphic design. They will come and go regardless. I am learning responsive web design as an additional tool and also jquery mobile - if clients want a mobile website with touch enabled functionality. But mobile browsing takes place under different lighting conditions; people are on the move, have shorter attention spans etc. Apps were originally something native and unique, costing businesses a fortune. People will soon tire of downloading apps that look like a million others.
      Good custom design will live on..
      YAY! Finally someone who gets it! LOL
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6174537].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    Providing your clients services by either mobile or not the rules don't change.

    I always try and put my self in the end users shoes. And I ask myself "Is this something I would use?...Would I download an app displayed on the counter at my dry cleaners?...Maybe... if the app had some beneficial functionality that I think I could use..But I would say 9/10 time I probably wouldn't download an app for a local business as I would just assume all the info I need is available in a mobi friendly site that I can easy pull up using Google.
    Signature
    [
    brick&mobile
    Click here to start your
    Mobile Marketing business
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6179005].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Vladcanada
    My question is can you build a mobile website which can be used to order food, with menu add/delete items with check out ETC? I saw few apps like that lets say like pizza pizza has in Canada, I think its awesome. But can you acctually do the same but with mobile website?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6179316].message }}
    • I just started working with Apptopia. They buy and sell mobile apps. Overall I think apps are meant to be global and not local. At least that's my opinion so far. I am diving into the industry day by day.

      But that being said I agree with Amber that push for certain businesses like auto shops may work. Then again as an end user do I really care to have an app to remind me of an oil change? Probably not.

      RE SEO, we (IMers) have SUCH an advantage knowing how to place keywords because most mobile app creators completely leave SEO out when they are listing their apps and that is a big piece of the success puzzle. It's crazy.

      Today when I spoke to an app buyer who's main business is consumer goods, he was really interested in buying apps to rebrand for a digital marketing strategy to compliment his consumer goods businesses he invests in.

      Got me thinking maybe a business like a gym would benefit from buying a pre existing app like this soccer game listed here and rebranding it to their company name rather than trying to build an app from scratch.

      Overall I think local businesses, like dry cleaners, unless they are looking to gain huge exposure across many areas they should just stick with classic local marketing in their neighborhood. A solid website and an email marketing campaign. Maybe a text marketing strategy. Classic, but works.

      Just looked up App Cat that lets you create an app fast and easy with no programming. If it is indeed as it claims to be then this seems like something I would try out.
      Signature
      Click here to access a list of 20 TESTED virtual assistants who work for $1 per hour | Find cheap Outsourced Workers in minutes |"the Girl who Gets it Done"
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6180306].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
      @vladcanada

      Funny you should mention Pizza Pizzas App as I brought this up to a friend who is just your regular Joe internet user but a bit of a techie.

      My question to him was:

      Would you download and install an APP for a local business?

      An he mentioned the Pizza Pizza app and how it can track loyalty and give you discounts etc by using the app.

      There is definitely a place in the market for Apps but lets get something stragght here. Pizza Pizza is a multi-million dollar Canadian brand/franchise and not exactly "Willies Pub and Grub"
      Signature
      [
      brick&mobile
      Click here to start your
      Mobile Marketing business
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6196627].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    Well it looks like Mobile websites are the undisputed champs currently over mobile apps. We still haven't seen one argument from anyone "pro app" who is doing well selling to local business.

    If you are out there please chime in!!
    Signature
    [
    brick&mobile
    Click here to start your
    Mobile Marketing business
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6215647].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Biz1media
      Yes Kevin, you have mentioned some valid points. However, apps sell well if you bundle it with other services. Local search, mobile site, sms, etc.
      Just my 2 cents.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6219960].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author freeburd
      Originally Posted by Kevin Z View Post

      Well it looks like Mobile websites are the undisputed champs currently over mobile apps. We still haven't seen one argument from anyone "pro app" who is doing well selling to local business.

      If you are out there please chime in!!
      I spoke with people that build business apps. I don't build business apps and I do not see how it can be a viable solution for business.

      In my opinion an app should be entertaining. How entertaining is an attorney's app? Makes no sense to me.

      I do not play games, do not use apps if they do not help me, but not everybody is like me.

      People I spoke with that build business apps, they do not program. It looked to me that they were using 3rd party software tools to build apps. Those are not real apps. That's how I think.
      Signature



      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6221415].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author designergauravm
    This is really great. Apps can be made in mobile also. Technology is getting advanced so nothing is impossible. Mobile websites can also be developed.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6217203].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    Adobe have released their recent survey results on “Users Preference for using a mobile browser vs native app for accessing select types of mobile contents”.

    As a result, most mobile users preferred to use mobile browsers accessing virtually all mobile contents, especially on e-commerce/online shopping, news, and product reviews categories.

    Games, music and social media were the only categories in which users preferred native apps.

    What do you do?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6217634].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    Adobe have released their recent survey results on "Users Preference for using a mobile browser vs native app for accessing select types of mobile contents".

    As a result, most mobile users preferred to use mobile browsers accessing virtually all mobile contents, especially on e-commerce/online shopping, news, and product reviews categories.

    Games, music and social media were the only categories in which users preferred native apps.

    What do you do?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6217639].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    @quentin the statistics don't lie, Google also recently released some pretty incredible numbers regarding user preferences of Mobile Web (Web App) over Native Apps for local business. It's extremely exciting to see this shift in the market and opens up many possibilities for current and future business on the mobile web!
    Signature
    [
    brick&mobile
    Click here to start your
    Mobile Marketing business
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6219040].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author HypeText
    Consider this...

    80% of apps downloaded are used exactly ONCE and then deleted.

    Apps have cross Platform compatibility issues. At minimum they will need two...one for Apple and another for Android. the Cost to the Small Business just doubled...

    While Push notifications are nice, the same thing can be accomplished with a Mobile Website and an SMS Marketing account for MUCH less money.
    Signature
    (916) 520-HYPE (4973)
    Local & Mobile Marketing Solutions
    $0 Setup & $99/mnth Private Label Reseller Accts
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6219049].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Amber Jalink
      Originally Posted by HypeText View Post

      Consider this...

      80% of apps downloaded are used exactly ONCE and then deleted.

      Apps have cross Platform compatibility issues. At minimum they will need two...one for Apple and another for Android. the Cost to the Small Business just doubled...

      While Push notifications are nice, the same thing can be accomplished with a Mobile Website and an SMS Marketing account for MUCH less money.

      Depends on the platform for the cost to small businesses anyway.

      Read an interesting article here:

      Mobile applications: native v Web apps

      "8) What do native apps do better than Web apps? How long will this remain the case?
      When we asked publishers that offer both application interfaces to compare the two, twice as many publishers saw higher user adoption, usage volume and user engagement (i.e. duration of usage per session) over native apps. In particular 30 percent of these publishers actually saw over 100 percent higher usage volume and engagement on native apps as compared to Web apps. Our study also found that native apps deliver a higher click-through rate (CTR) among the ad-serving publishers, although experiences can vary by company and content category.

      While we do expect native apps to maintain their lead in user adoption and engagement in the near future, it is important to recognize the large variances in publishers' experiences and, in many cases, the difference in adoption is driven by the gap in user friendliness between the same company's native and Web app interfaces. Many developers argue that the relatively poor user experience offered by currently available Web apps are due to a lack of access to native device features such as GPS, camera, calendar and accelerometer, but that is soon to change."
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6220264].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Amber Jalink
      Not sure why, I just put a post with a link to an article that I thought was good... I won't repost, maybe it's in moderation? (It wasn't an ad in any way).

      It simply talked about the differences between the two.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6220278].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author HypeText
    For those not yet convinced...

    Shoes.com, the largest retailer of shoes worldwide launched their Native Apps and their Mobile Website at about the same time.

    After one year, they took a look at where their Mobile Sales Were coming from.

    A whopping 80% of their Mobile Sales came from their Mobile Website.

    I'm not saying that Apps don't have their place, however we need to remember as "Consultants" we are supposed to be offering our clients the Best Value for their Dollar, NOT selling them whats best for our own pockets.
    Signature
    (916) 520-HYPE (4973)
    Local & Mobile Marketing Solutions
    $0 Setup & $99/mnth Private Label Reseller Accts
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6224668].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Amber Jalink
      Originally Posted by HypeText View Post

      For those not yet convinced...

      Shoes.com, the largest retailer of shoes worldwide launched their Native Apps and their Mobile Website at about the same time.

      After one year, they took a look at where their Mobile Sales Were coming from.

      A whopping 80% of their Mobile Sales came from their Mobile Website.

      I'm not saying that Apps don't have their place, however we need to remember as "Consultants" we are supposed to be offering our clients the Best Value for their Dollar, NOT selling them whats best for our own pockets.
      You're exactly right.

      That article discussed (and I've said this too), that people want apps for things like entertainment.

      I could see them downloading an app for an event, concert, festival or something like that - and maybe a favorite restaurant that they could get loyalty rewards for, but honestly, I would never want even 5 restaurants on my phone, and I can't see too many others wanting it either.

      I think it makes sense to make it an OPTION for businesses (if you have the capability of doing it), but I would emphasize the mobile website more than anything.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6224725].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
      [DELETED]
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6225926].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author HypeText
        Kevin,

        "Credibility like this will take someone much further in their business efforts then the consultant that try's to grab a few extra bucks on a deal selling hype."

        Got to admit....there was some irony in that statement considering my Company Name! lol


        Originally Posted by Kevin Z View Post

        Finally someone hits the nail right on the head...

        "however we need to remember as "Consultants" we are supposed to be offering our clients the Best Value for their Dollar, NOT selling them whats best for our own pockets."

        Credibility like this will take someone much further in their business efforts then the consultant that try's to grab a few extra bucks on a deal selling hype.

        Many times over we have turned business away from the idea of apps in favour of our Mobile CMS which uses HTML 5 because it simply was the right fit for the business even though the more lucrative deal was in selling the app.

        Keep up the great stuff @HypeText
        Signature
        (916) 520-HYPE (4973)
        Local & Mobile Marketing Solutions
        $0 Setup & $99/mnth Private Label Reseller Accts
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6225962].message }}
  • Great conversation & I think Quentin & others are correct. Mobile Apps certainly have their time & place but I don't think they're right for small businesses. Check out this article that just came out about HTML 5. Mobile website builders are becoming more & more robust, & look to this in the next few years to make most apps obsolete.

    Financial Times shuts off iOS apps: Will others follow? - Mobile Marketer - Media
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6225154].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    It's interesting to watch a thread start off about mobile apps and then slowly make it's way down to the logical solution being the exact service offered by the person who started the thread.

    Hmmm... :rolleyes:
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6227209].message }}
  • Mobile apps vs mobile web site. A debate but I see the trend is now apps since the Apple and Google has large App stores, most web masters can easily promote the app through those app stores. Otherwise those app stores make the app trustworthy to download than a mobile web site. Also the performance and the capabilities are higher in an App than a mobile web site. Thats why most web sites now use their official app. That's the trend.
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6227487].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Z
    @System Wide Solutions

    We both agree that Apps are more powerful (at the moment) and extends the possibilities of what you can do, however this gap is quickly closing with the emergence of new mobile web technologies.

    APPs for local business however simply does not make sense as people who are using smartphones are looking for instant access to local information.

    So unless you are a big box store or big brand then apps really aren't the right way to go when pitching mobile solutions for local business.

    Have you been able to resell native apps and turn a nice profit?
    Signature
    [
    brick&mobile
    Click here to start your
    Mobile Marketing business
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6248142].message }}

Trending Topics