The “show horse” vs. the” work horse”. Why mobile web is a more sensible approach.

December 28th, 2010 by

Yesterday I came across an excellent article in Mobile Marketer that explains why investing in mobile apps does not make sense. The guest author, Adrian Mendoza of Marline Mobile highlights that mobile websites are “intrinsically more searchable, discoverable, measurable and testable – ultimately providing greater ROI for mobile initiatives with less effort and complexity.” I cannot agree with him more.

At Trilibis, we refer to apps as the “show horse” and mobile sites as the “work horse”. In some cases developing an app might be worth the expense – games or promotional experiences that rely on the gimmicky/flashy elements of the handset. In most cases, mobile websites are much better suited for delivery of content and services.

From a product point of view, mobile web offers fewer barriers for developing and effectively evolving your services and offerings. Initial development, even across multiple browsers and handset families, is significantly less complex than cross-platform development. Implementing regular updates is also less strenuous on engineering and QA. Tracking performance and analyzing usage data is straightforward with tools such as Google Analytics. And not dealing with app stores is a triple win:  1) you save even more on technical resources; 2) your app isn’t competing for attention with hundreds of thousands of other apps; and 3) your customers get to access your latest and greatest updates the next time they’re using your mobile site – no download required.

From a marketing point of view, mobile web content can be reached through numerous touch points, some of which don’t work for mobile apps. Take email for example. These days, emails are more and more often opened on a mobile device. If your brand is executing CRM email campaigns (and most brands do), by using a mobile link redirect, you can point your mobile customers to the specific page or a piece of content on your mobile site. But let’s not limit ourselves to email… Barcodes featured in print, out-of-home and in-store advertising, mobile ad campaigns, text message campaigns, augmented reality apps, sponsored search and many other marketing vehicles can utilize a mobile web URL or a mobile redirect to seamlessly deliver your customers to the desired content or a designated landing page for your campaign. With apps, this simply is not possible.

So before investing in an expensive show horse that might not appear much out of its crowded stable, consider your goals and resources… A work horse is probably just what you need.

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