With the rise of smartphones, online customers have been buying more goods with their mobile devices instead of computers. Tech Crunch released numbers which reported a record $771 million in revenue from mobile customers over Thanksgiving. But while businesses scramble to make their businesses more mobile-friendly, they also have to figure out whether they will stick with a mobile website or create a mobile app.
Mobile apps are more popular than mobile websites and can provide businesses with more customer information compared to a website visit. Also, customers are more likely to remember and return to a mobile app which is more visible on a phone screen compared to an Internet browser’s bookmark.
What does the growing popularity of apps mean for e-commerce websites? Mobile apps are also affecting how shoppers behave, and an e-commerce business needs to understand these trends to get the most out of mobile apps.
The Importance of Loading Quickly
Every e-commerce owner should know that slow loading times can quickly kill your business as more impatient customers turned towards another store. Kissmetrics found that 40 percent of customers will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Remember that not every mobile user will have access to a top-notch 4G network all the time. Your business needs to make sure that everyone with a mobile device can easily access your website or app.
The need to ensure fast loading times is one advantage which mobile apps have over mobile websites. Mobile apps are easier to load than a corresponding website, and apps can retain limited functionality without a connection. But customers who use mobile apps will move away from a slow-loading app just like they would with a slow-loading website.
To get around this, some companies, such as KandyPens, rely on adaptive websites, which can easily transfer to the mobile experience using HTML5, as well as on a desktop. But that approach can lead to the temptation to add additional features on an app to attract customers. E-commerce businesses need to remember that functionality and faster loading times are some of the most important factors of all. Less is more when it comes to apps.
Knowing your Customers
“Data” is the current big buzzword around mobile e-commerce apps. Business can track where a customer goes on its app better than a website. This means that a business can better understand what each individual customer is interested in and personalize their app for them.
While there are legitimate concerns about how companies can abuse the data they collect with apps, there is incredible potential for how businesses can use gathered data to improve the customer experience. But while mobile apps can provide data, businesses need to have good data of their own to build the most effective app.
One major challenge with apps compared to websites is that it is harder to build an app which will work with every kind of phone. Consequently, an ecommerce website needs to figure out which phones their target demographics use and build an app for that phone.
Importance of Engagement
Mobile apps are not just useful as a way to conduct sales. They are also a great marketing tool. Recent data shows that customers spend 90 percent of their time on apps compared to on a mobile website. While this number is somewhat skewed by how customers use apps to check places like email or Facebook instead of going on a browser, it still showcases the incredible marketing power which apps possess.
E-commerce businesses have multiple approaches for how to attract customers using apps, but one cost-effective approach is content marketing.
While there are numerous content marketing guides out on the Internet, the idea should be for your business to regularly put content on the app which will be interesting to potential customers. For example, you should detail life in your business’ specific niche or announce upcoming deals.
You can use social media networks like Twitter or set up a blog to launch a content marketing platform, but an app carries certain advantages. Customers on your app will stay and listen to your content instead of drifting to the next interesting thing they discover on Twitter. Your app can also connect to your online store, right at the point when the content marketing will have its biggest effect on a consumer.
The Continuing Rise of Apps
The growing popularity of apps will only increase in 2017 as the app experience improves and customers get more comfortable with using apps in place of websites. While some businesses are trying to expand their mobile websites, creative fronts should look into developing a mobile app that will be engaging, easy to load and can both provide and utilize data for your benefit.
Take a look at large and small developers who will be willing to build or improve a mobile app for your business, and then build an app which is responsive to your customers. There are already millions of apps, but there is still time for your business to make your app different and better compared to your competitors if you know what your customers want.
Article by Jeremiah Owyang
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