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Mobile apps killed the Internet star

Posted by Don Crow on Jul 28, 2010 4:00:58 AM

The title of this article sounds much better when you get the Buggles stuck in your head.

There is considerable risk here considering, (a) many of the readers weren't born in 1979, (b) few, if any understand the MTV significance of this video, (c) you never listened to the Buggles anyway, and (d) the ever popular multiple choice answer, "all of the above."

I shared a drink with a good friend over a month ago. She was married to her brand new iPhone and I was a distraction. Good thing I had my drink to keep me company. Seriously, she was really into her iPhone and so I asked her a few questions. Her answer startled me, but set me to thinking and researching the future of websites versus mobile apps.

The response catalyst, "I don't go to websites anymore if they have an app because I don't have to wait for it to load and I can go right to what I want."


*pat myself on the back now*

I've been telling companies for the past two years they are cramming too much information on their websites. The reasons have ranged from the utterly shocking, "we have to in order to avoid live customer interactions," to the ridiculous, "our CEO said we had to."

A mobile app - not website - strips out the ridiculous and prevents the shocking because of the limitations of screen size, operating systems and in order to ease customer navigation. Along the way, it provides near instant gratification of the user's information request - no windows operating system delays, DSL or cable issues to slow us down or annoying pop-ups, pop-unders, etc. And, if it is done really, really well, it will delay until the last possible moment when the visitor (app user) has to leave the application. Meanwhile, it informs, delights and engages the app user and therefore encourages return usage.

The savvy ones even alert the user when new content or useful info has been added. Outside of subscribing to a RSS feed or blog or email alert list or downloading a desktop notification system, when is the last time a website did that for you?

So with all this capability, why aren't marketers and companies jumping on mobile platforms and/or apps?

Mobile devices provide one of the most personal and intimate ways for marketers to reach consumers. eMarketer estimates nearly 80% of the US population has a mobile phone as of 2010. But many marketers are slow to take advantage of the channel.

Consider this, estimates of broadband penetration in the US range from 57-65%. On a best, worst case scenario that's a 15% delta between the number of mobile users and broadband connected homes!

Now to be certain, all of those mobile phones aren't app ready, but I hope you get the math here: mobile phones are outstripping broadband homes and logically, have a greater reach as a result.

So what can you do? Strip your website down to essential, call to action or highlighted relative content. Build a mobile site which doesn't just mirror your main content, but puts research driven, relevant content online. Research, test and test again the viability of a mobile app: iPhone, blackberry, android, etc.

Tie the three together. Utilize all three to touch different customer segments. Listen to your customers and make modifications to each to streamline the user experience.

The point here is get mobile before your star falls with the Internet.

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