Dealership Mobile websites vs. Apps.
You can read countless articles on this topic. It’s a subject as polarizing as a sports boarder battle. There are plenty of examples of companies using mobile websites or apps exclusively, while others opt for both options. Which mobile strategy is the best route for the dealer? Mobile websites? Apps? Both?
First, let’s look at some current market data:
Do users prefer apps or mobile sites?
Percentages in available studies conflict, but the results show that some users prefer apps while others want a mobile website experience. A recent Adobe article points to 66% of mobile users preferring to surf via mobile browser rather than mobile apps: http://rww.to/cMFLGv. In contrast data published by Zoken last month points to app usage growing as compared to the mobile web: http://rww.to/arRJLk In summary, some users opt for a mobile web experience when consuming information while others prefer an app experience. While it’s hard to nail down percentages, the takeaway is that there is a strong demand in both categories.
Do more mobile websites or apps exist?
TapTu’s fourth quarter report of the mobile web shows over 440k mobile sites now exist: http:// bit.ly/aF3Yxk. “Mobile site” in this context is defined as a touch friendly site, optimized for today’s touch screen mobile devices. The total number of apps for all mobile platforms exceeds 500k: http://bit.ly/a5e33S. iPhone’s iOS claims over 250k apps, followed by Android recently cresting the 100k mark: http://bit.ly/dfWXMG. With more and more companies opting to create both a mobile website and a native app, look for these stats to increase in the near future.
Time spent within mobile sites vs. apps
While the browser on a mobile device used to account for 70-80% of total internet usage, apps have reduced that number in recent years to just over 50%: http://bit.ly/d4FsVi. In fact, studies are only able to track total browser usage, not just mobile website usage. As such, we are unable see a direct comparison. One stat has increased – time spent within apps. Think of this stat as the website equivalent “time on site” metric. This “stickiness” is aided by the fact that native apps are installed on devices, not just browsed. Having an icon installed on the user’s home page is a clear advantage and is a key reason mobile apps hold an upper hand in this area.
Pros and Cons. Where apps shine and mobile sites excel.
Mobile Websites: As mobile sites have evolved over the years they have become excellent sources for quick information. Hours, directions, inventory, etc loads quickly and is easy to navigate on any mobile device. Mobile sites are cross platform compatible, allowing users on just about any touch screen mobile device to access information.
- Quick, easy access to information on the go
- Cross platform compatible, no download needed
Mobile Apps: Apps have always been about experience first, information second. Typical app users expect a certain level of interaction and, in many cases, some level of entertainment value. Additionally, app users tend to spend significantly more time within an app vs a mobile site visit. Apps are installed on a device, creating a potential longer-term opt-in relationship channel.
- Interactive experience, unique user interface
- Extended time-on-site metrics/user
- App install = long-term relationship potential
The Combo. Mobile Sites within Apps.
Some of the most successful apps feature an interactive front end with drill-down access to additional information. Nike ID’s app draws the user in with an immersive app experience, then capitalizes on opportunity by offering the user the option to purchase. The Hyperlite app allows the user to browse wakeboards, bindings, and accessories in typical app fashion while utilizing Hyperlite’s existing mobile site to provide product details and purchase options. Some of the best app experiences engage, immerse, and then push the user to a call to action mechanism.
- Interactive app experience teamed with drill down access to additional specifics or information.
What about the dealer?
In summary, the industry battle of apps vs. the mobile web is far from over. Which option will dealers see the most success from? Dealers are reporting a rapid increase in mobile device traffic to their websites. In response, both apps and mobile websites are being created to capture visitors. I believe we’ll have a much clearer idea of dealer ROI in this arena within the next 9-12 months.
How are you implementing an app or mobile site with your dealership?
What specific results are you experiencing?
What’s your opinion on the future of mobile web and apps in the dealer market?