Mobile is no longer just another channel in which to focus marketing efforts. Mobile has become a platform that marketers must utilize. Mobile is all about optimization and personalization; because there is less screen real estate and less inclination to wait, brands need to recognize exactly what their customers want and be able to deliver with speed.  In order to successfully leverage mobile users, digital strategists must ask themselves, do we focus on a mobile site, a mobile app, or both?

When to Use a Mobile Site

Always. There is no excuse for a company in 2014 to not have a site that is mobile-friendly. Mobile users are busy and have every distraction in the world that can take them away from your site, which means if it is not optimized for mobile (loads quickly and responsively), user won’t stick around for long.

A mobile website should generally be the first step in a company’s mobile strategy. This is because mobile websites:

1)      Can be accessed instantly, anywhere a connection is available

2)      Maintain compatibility across devices

3)      Can be refined, retuned, and upgraded instantly

4)      Can be found with ease (no need for an app store)

5)      Have a broader audience

6)      Are easier and less expensive than an app

7)      Stick around forever; the average application shelf-life is less than 30 days (source)

What about Apps

Even though mobile websites are a necessity, it doesn’t negate the need for mobile apps. There are a few key scenarios in which a mobile app is helpful:

1)      Interactivity and Gaming- Mobile websites are just not as good at dealing with interactive elements as apps are.

2)      Native Functionality- If you need to access certain mobile functionalities like a user’s location, SMS messaging, or click-to-call, an app will better serve your needs.

3)      No Internet Connection- if a user is unable to access the internet, an app that can still function is ideal.

All in all, your mobile strategy should kick off with a mobile-friendly website and if an app is needed, create one afterwards. The decision doesn’t have to be either/or, it really can be both, but be sure to create an app only if it makes sense to do so.