Now that the dot com revolution has been reincarnated as the app development revolution, a lot of businesses (and their marketing companies) are weighing the benefits of creating a dedicated app for their product or service. Is this a solid gold path to online success, or should you keep your attention on the mobile web experience instead?

Like everything, there are pros and cons to each approach.

Mobile Web Use

If your site isn’t optimized already for mobile users—well, shame on you, first of all. But also, that’s a clear indicator that you’ve never looked at the hard statistics when it comes to how many people use their mobile devices for browsing, shopping and finding local businesses while out and about. Because if you had, you’d drop whatever you’re doing and optimize the heck out of your mobile users’ experience right this minute.

In a lot of ways, mobile web traffic is similar to desktop web traffic. People browse a lot of different sites but may not necessarily spend a ton of time on each one. Mobile web traffic is also huge compared to app traffic—to the tune of twice as big, and growing faster.

There’s no longer any question about whether or not you should be optimizing for mobile web. You absolutely should. As long as you’re already thinking about the mobile user’s experience as you design and develop websites, you’re in reasonably good shape. If not, you need to get serious about the game, or get off the field.

Mobile App Development

As impressive as mobile web use may be, smartphone users spend way less time accessing websites from their mobile devices compared to the time they spend on apps. So, it makes sense that a lot of businesses have really taken that whole ‘marketing for mobile’ thing to heart so much so that they’ve shot straight past designing a solid mobile user experience and hopped right on over into app development territory.

Mobile app development can be really amazing for the right kind of business, as long as other important metrics are in place—like your app is offering some kind of value or feature that a mobile site doesn’t or can’t. But most businesses aren’t likely to benefit from a dedicated app, primarily because it’s yet one more platform you need to figure out how to drive traffic to.

The Best Marketing Approach

With pros and cons to each aspect of mobile marketing, the answer to which is best for your business really ends up the same as every other marketing question: whichever one works best for you.

If you’ve got a killer infrastructure in place that involves skilled developers and a great strategy, by all means, charge full steam ahead with your app. But if you feel like an app can’t offer a better user experience than what you’re already delivering via your mobile-optimized website—and you don’t have the resources on hand to plan, develop or track the strategy of a dedicated app—then it’s perfectly fine to keep doing what you’re doing… as long as you keep right on prioritizing the mobile user experience as part of your big picture marketing plan.

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