Mobile apps vs. Mobile websites: they have less in common than you think

Last week, I visited RedSneakers, an upscale SEO and website marketing firm in Fort Myers, Florida. I sat down to chat with the boss, Ed Moore. I asked him what he thinks about apps. He replies quickly "We have a website, we don't think we need one." I tried to hide my horrified expression behind my coffee cup.

This is from an SEO guy.

The functions of an app haven't been made clear to the public yet. Why not? That's what I'm trying to figure out.

The App Story

Apps have been around prior to 2008 – but that was the year that we, the plebes, were introduced to that very short and ominous sounding word: app. GooglePlay and Apple's App Store opened for business that year. I even attempted to make my own in 2010. It wasn't very successful, but I did the best I could with what I had. Don't judge.

Apps have come a long way since then. TUNE's "Global Mobile 2016" report [1] estimated there was 180 billion app downloads in 2015. Furthermore, the App Store just enjoyed its busiest day ever on New Years Day 2017.

Obviously many folks know these juicy little widgets exist, but what about the mainstream? Nope, not yet.

Let's get back to Ed at RedSneakers. He is still believing that an app is a mini, mobile website. I laid my phone on his desk and tapped on our company's app: SocialMe (we're a boutique social media management and training company). I continued tapping. I showed him the Entrepreneur.com newsfeed that displays real-time social media articles and blogs (and entertains me in the wee hours of the morning).

Then I tapped on our Calendar (Google Calendar link) so he could see the meeting I had scheduled with him.  I mentioned that his clients could see his scheduled MeetUps, events, and even the slots he had free for them to book an appointment.

Next, I tapped on our SocialClub, where our clients can add themselves to our map. Here is where it gets fun, I get their name, email, or phone number and location. Data collecting, baby! I tapped the SocialMe Poll button. Our fans can choose what features of apps they like the most with a fun, interactive chart showing where they fit in. We all like to fit in, don't we?

Push notifications are the cherries on top of the marketing sundae, though. I have never seen a website (yet) that shoots alerts of sales, messages and updates into my hands, by text, on my phone. We can alert our entire fan base of a special LinkedIn seminar that we are holding tomorrow!

Next, I showed him our SocialMe team superimposed over a grand NYC skyline. We look like hipster, high-fashion models. Hey, it's all about the image.

Then I feigned boredom while I showed him the normal Insta, FB and Twitter icons and easy GPS directions to our place.

Interaction & Engagement

When I looked up I instantly realized that I showed him something that he did not know existed: INTERACTION and ENGAGEMENT. People today are spending over 5 hours per day looking at their phones, making it harder and harder to slow down their speeding on the information highway. If there isn't an element that makes your clients feel connected to you and your brand, they aren't going to care about you. As Mary Kay, the Grand-Dame of make-up and uber successful entrepreneur said, "people won't care about you if you don't care about them." It's no surprise that the Mary Kay brand has multiple, sophisticated apps currently on the market.

Engagement is the biggest difference in mobile websites vs. mobile apps. Today, people have a ridiculously low attention span – if interaction isn't immediate, your customer has likely moved on in search of the next CandyCrush. Experts say that people are even sick of typing website addresses in search bars. Tapping on the app icon is going to be de-riguer in the future.

SocialMe Media