Contributed by Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific Limited

Rohit Dadwal

Social brands experience heavy engagement on smart phones, according to comScore’s Mobile Metrix 2.0. Nearly 82 percent of time spent with mobile media is being spent via apps. For example, 80 percent of time spent on Facebook was represented by app usage compared to 20 percent via browser. According to Silicon Valley Insider the fastest growing app categories, based on time per active user include Photo and Video, Music, Productivity, Social Networking and Entertainment. With the photo and video category growing at the rate of 89 percent, it is no wonder that Facebook paid $1 billion to acquire Instagram. What do these facts mean for marketers looking to engage the mobile audience?

Deciding whether your business needs a mobile app can be tricky. Are apps the solution to building a community of engaged users and providing a value added service? Apps can be a great feature-rich medium with which to connect with users, but they aren’t necessarily the right solution for all businesses. Developing and maintaining an app is an expensive affair and tends to eat into a sizable portion of marketing budgets. Instead, developing a mobile website might be a more effective for some businesses.

In this digital age where the consumer is mobile and truly in control of the messages they receive, marketers have a bevy of alternatives with which to reach customers. While no business has the option to ignore the mobile channel any more, marketers should carefully consider their options before jumping onto the app bandwagon. Mobile websites run on any browser and can cost less to maintain over time. They also are a great tool to reach larger audiences as it is easier to drive traffic to such websites. There are now tools and firms that specialize in helping enterprises optimize their websites for mobile viewing.

Mobile app consumption (based on minutes per day), has recently over taken web consumption in the United States, but at 72 minutes per day, web consumption remains substantial not only in the U.S. but in other parts of the world as well. Therefore, there is a large segment that can potentially be reached through a mobile website.

As with any new marketing medium, measuring performance and ROI on both apps and mobile websites is particularly complicated. Web visits and app downloads are inaccurate measures and provide very little insight. Therefore, for companies looking to venture into the mobile channel defining business goals and key performance indicators is probably still the most important step that can help decide their mobile marketing strategy and solve the app vs. mobile website dilemma once and for all.