In a world where more than 65 percent of digital time is spent on a mobile device, brands are turning to mobile first strategies to engage with customers in every moment of the buyer journey. But wait…there’s a bigger question at hand: What channel should you be using to connect and engage on mobile? Your mobile strategy is so more than just a native app or a mobile-friendly website–it has to include multiple different channels to appeal to all of your customers. It’s easy to get a little whiplash when trying to wrap your head around all of the different mobile channel options, so we’ll help you break it down with a little help from our mobile engagement dictionary.
Mobile-friendly websites are just that: websites that look great on mobile devices! These sites make content easy to read, view, or watch regardless of which device someone is using. Google states that the easiest way to begin making your website mobile friendly is to use responsive web design. A responsive website is one that changes based on the device that the user is accessing it on (for example, text and images scale depending on the screen size). Mobile-friendly websites take this a step further by optimizing content for mobile devices specifically.
Native apps are made-for-mobile applications that are downloaded through an app store and added to the phone’s home screen. These are currently the most popular option for providing mobile-specific experiences thanks to their high engagement rates, but with the advent of new technologies combined with users experiencing download fatigue, this may be changing soon. Native apps have the benefit of working offline, having access to hardware, and being secured via app store malware scanners.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are app-like experiences that are hosted behind a URL and can be accessed via any browser on any device. Think of them as mobile experiences that have all of the rich functionality of a native app (like the ability to access it from the home screen, integrate with native hardware like the camera, and send push notifications)–but without the app store download. Working off the foundation set by web apps, PWAs are the next generation of the mobile web, designed to be more practical and user friendly and feel more like a native mobile experience. Although they work on all devices, they’re especially effective on mobile with the ability to save to the home screen like a native mobile app.
Hybrid mobile apps work as a cross between web apps and native mobile apps. These apps are websites that are built as normal web pages but run in the shell of a mobile web browser. Hardware functionality of the phone like camera integrations and geolocation are available for use throughout the app, but since hybrid mobile apps are simply websites with a native app “wrapper”, the app’s performance capabilities are limited to the web browser as opposed to a full native app, compromising the user experience and typically providing lackluster user interfaces.