I have 87 apps on my Smartphone. Believe me, I counted them. For some this might seem like an abnormal amount, but I use them all. These apps give me instant and often very well structured access to news, weather, sports, search engines, social media networks, cloud-services, photo-apps, games and much more. I also have access to my email accounts. My phone is my digital tool of choice, and my computer is now mostly used for work related tasks, and not for random browsing online.
This development in preference is trending not only with me. A 2012 report done by the market research agency Nielsen shows that the U.S. market (which is comparable to the European market) has experienced a huge growth in users connecting to the Internet through mobile devices. While the amount of unique users connected to the Internet with a PC is down 4 % compared to 2011, the amount of unique users connected via mobile web is up 82 % and connections made through mobile apps is up 85 % (Nielsen, 2012). This is evidence of a shift in user preferences and a result of a growing Smartphone and tablet market. Companies and organizations alike should therefore pay close attention to this trend turned tendency.
Going mobile is going where your audience is. This is by no means a bold statement considering the market research mentioned above. Further research done by e.g. Mobile Marketing Association suggests that companies on average stands to gain an 85 % increase in consumer engagement as a result of adapting their website to mobile usage or creating an app. Additionally, the research claims that companies benefits from added consumer engagement seen as an increase in sales.
The evidence is all pointing in the same direction. Companies must start, if they haven’t already, to adapt websites to mobile usage or even create apps to service their customers. I am a firm believer that all companies must surrender to at least adapting their website to mobile use. This is a question of usability. If your users have easy, well structured access to your site no matter the device used, they will stay longer and more often than not repeat their visit. Apps are on the other hand not an equally important channel of communication for all companies to utilize. Based on observation, an app should be created only by having identified a specific consumer demand for a key service, or as a branding campaign. An example of a service app is mobile banking. Here users are able to check accounts, transfer money on the go etc. In terms of campaigns, Nike has on of the most succesful mobile apps out there with Nike+. The app engages users to compete with each other on fitness achievements. Another succesful campaign is Coinoffers by McDonalds in Denmark, which gives users the opportunity to collect coins through QR codes and recorded sound bites, that can be exchange for free burgers at one of the company’s restaurants. Both campaigns embrace gamification as a tool of deliverance and both are designed to inspire play, fun and feelings of community when using them. Gamification is not right for every company considering services offered, but giving the users a sense of community and added brand value is.
The point is that your consumers, the users of mobile sites and apps, are growing in numbers, and they are waiting for you to go mobile. Whether creating an app, adapting your site to be optimal for mobile use, or both, going mobile is a tool for companies to ensure future brand engagement.