English articles, Top Tasks

App vs mobile site: learning from old school metrics

Impressions, visits and unique visitors: they are metrics of the old webworld. Yet, they can be an element in the choice between the app and the mobile site. The starting point should not be these metrics, but the customers’ toptasks.

Vendors of apps and mobile sites besiege companies and organisations and their online budgets. All with nice sales pitches. The app is the future for your online communication. Or: You need a mobile website or you are history in this smartphone era. And whatever.

CEM4mobile, a telecom analytics vendor, calculated how intensely apps and mobile websites are being used, based on 56 million impressions from Nordic online services that had as well the app as the mobile site.

The result is interesting and not surprising: mobile sites win on all accounts of impressions, visits and unique visitors. However, the app user is using the service more intensely – his or her engagement is higher.

Does this mean that having a mobile site is better than having the app? No. Nor does it mean that it’s better to go for the app only and aim at the more engaging customers.

What it means in my opinion, is that

  • frequent users of your website probably prefer the app
  • with the mobile site you reach much more occasional visitors.

It also means that

  • if you go for the app only, you can reach the frequent customer who judged it worthwhile to download the app
  • if you go for the mobile website only, you can reach all customers.

What it doesn’t say is that metrics about impressions, visits and visitors are only a small part of the story. Indeed, they are definitely old school.

What should be measured – app or mobile site – is how well people can do what they came to do in the first place. Technologically, apps can do more. Integrating contacts, social data and especially location, that is the real app material. However, if there is no such compelling reason in your customers’ tasks, do stick with the mobile site.

Make the mobile site your first step to the smartphone, and do it soon. Adapt your website for the smaller screens. More and more customers perform their online tasks on mobile devices and stay away from unadapted sites. Going mobile doesn’t necessarily mean building the holy app. Most companies and organisations can make their customers perform their top tasks adequately on a mobile website.


About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.


2 thoughts on “App vs mobile site: learning from old school metrics

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