We live in a very interesting time. The speed and access to information is almost unfathomable, and yet somehow is constantly being improved upon. When I was growing up, going to a website required your phone to be cut off and could take several minutes. Now you can look up a website while talking on the phone, and you can do it all on the same device! While my generation has taken little notice of the amazing feat, content marketers have been pushed to the limits keeping up with the breakneck speed of the advances.
The current question facing content marketers is what to do about their mobile presence. There are currently two courses of action; a brand can create a mobile friendly version of their website (Responsive Design), or they can create a mobile app. Both of these options offer benefits and drawbacks.
Responsive design is by far the cheapest option. The concept is simply to take a site that already exists and create an edited version that allows for ease of access and use on mobile devices. In my opinion (as a college student) this step towards integrating your brand into the mobile platform is mandatory. If your site is clunky, tiny, and hard to navigate on mobile platforms chances are no one will want to visit it on those devises, and rightful so.
Speaking for the current generation 9/10 times when looking something up I am doing it on my phone. If I happen to come across your site and it is unusable on mobile than you just lost a potential customer. If this happens all the time than you’re in major trouble. You have to be able to communicate to your audience where they are, not where you want to be.
Mobile apps are the most interactive medium for mobile devises. The major benefit of an app is the freedom to create whatever form of interaction you feel your audience needs. Offer a rewards program, membership benefits, games, community platforms, easy payment options, the possibilities currently seem endless. The ease of access that users have to their apps increase the likely hood that they will interact with your brand on a daily basis.
However, don’t jump the gun and begin developing an app because some 21 year old told you they were good. Apps are only effective when they offer something to the user. The purpose of an app is to raise the level of interactivity beyond that of a website, if you can’t do that than why bother wasting the time and effort?
In my “expert” opinion, all brands need to incorporate responsive design into their websites, it’s a requirement of the times we live in. However, whether or not your brand needs an app is dependent solely on it’s purpose, and it’s audience. In the end you are the best judge what your brand and audience are capable of, plan accordingly. But do it quick before the next “innovation” hits.