Web vs App: Everything that differentiates them and defines them as marketing tools

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Web and app are the two communication channels that allow a company to benefit from greater communicative autonomy in terms of form and content. Two channels in which an organization is able to print its identity directly and with greater independence because, beyond technical and budgetary limitations, they are the ones that establish the content and structure the site through which they will direct the user towards an experience defined entirely by the brand.

Now, what is the difference between web and app as communication tools? There are brands that fall into the error of conceiving the app as an adaptation of the website which the user downloads and installs on their smartphone, when they should really be understood as tools with a different communicative utility. Next, we will analyze the characteristics of the two platforms and how each one responds to different communication needs.

Differences between web and app

What aspects of functionality and design differentiate the web and app?

Beyond the differences that exist in the way a website or an app is programmed, there are other functional and design issues that are interesting to discuss:

A website is a site that will be viewed through a browser, so it must be able to adapt to both desktop screens and the different mobile devices. It has the advantage that it is very flexible, capable of displaying itself correctly on any compatible device, but at the same time lacks features and functionality that only apps have.

While it is true that the web is increasingly compatible with the use of the device’s sensors, integration is still limited, especially if we are talking about a web viewed from a computer, since it has no specific hardware for smartphones.

It can be said that many of the app’s functionalities are not possible or are less accurate on the desktop. For example: a PC can geolocate us in a very approximate way by means of triangulation, but these equipments will seldom have a GPS that communicates to our servers their exact location. Another sensor, the camera or webcam, whose quality is still the right one for a video call and can’t be handled as easily as on a mobile phone makes it a secondary element. And what about heart rate sensors or fingerprint readers present in most new phones? Features that are unimaginable on the computer.

There are also aesthetic differences. The same website is designed to be seen on desktop and mobile browser, while the app is designed for mobile devices only and even for a specific operating system. Once again the versatility of the web supposes at the same time a limitation, that even using a responsive or adaptive design, will be thought and designed to be visualized in all browsers.

Web and app respond to different design standards. Although the adaptation of the web to mobile version is already a matter of almost mandatory compliance, there are still a number of aspects, especially of style, that differ between platforms.

What is the difference between a website and an app in marketing?

The above-mentioned technical, functional or design differences have a direct influence on Interface and User Experience aspects. Even so, what we must understand is that, beyond the fact that an app and a web can look or functionally similar, the real difference is in how the user will interact with it, what he expects to find when opening them and what it will bring to him and us as a brand. Let’s consider that app and web are communication tools with different uses and, therefore, with different objectives.

Purpose and usefulness of a website as a marketing tool

The web is the Internet navigation system par excellence. Based on the use of hypertext formats, combining text and multimedia elements, it has evolved to amazing levels of dynamism and interactivity. A format in itself that for a long time has served as a cover letter and showcase for many brands. Now, what is the purpose of the web as a marketing tool?

The objective of a website is to receive visits that allow, in terms of marketing, a conversion. A website is an area of interaction, exchange and transaction between brand and user. An interaction that usually begins with the contribution of an information pill on the part of the web site when faced with a question from the user. We will be talking about an exchange when the conversion happens in which the user will report to the brand what he was attracted for. The transaction will be the final objective of the website, whether or not it happens within your domains, as long as these are the brand’s ones.

A website must be prepared to receive the user and direct it towards conversion. If you don’t succeed in converting or strengthening the relationship, you will probably lost them forever.
A user will arrive at a website for the first time moved by a recommendation or a question and using the means to solve their unknown. In the case of your website, the first session is likely to result from a Google search or CPC actions. You should make efforts by using SEO techniques that increase your visibility in search engines.

Unless you have a complex interactive tool integrated into your site, (whether it is an ecommerce or any web application) this will be mainly a place of transit, through which the user walks, performs the concrete action he expected and of which, if you do not capture it, will end up leaving. A website is a useful site to attract visitors and convert. The user was just passing through and your goal should be to surprise him and give him more than he was looking for. Your goal therefore is that they know you and do something with you:

  • Newsletter subscription and lead generation or registrations.
  • A sale or a download if you have an online store. Unless you add a product to your cart to remarketing.
  • A click on an ad through AdSense.
  • Anything else: a consultation call, an event registration…

Your website must always be able to provide some kind of conversion. At the very least, branding generation that knows you as a brand and knows what place you occupy in the market.

Purpose and usefulness of an app as a marketing tool

On average, we use about 10 different applications every day and 30 per month according to the app usage report published by App Annie. Only apps that offer a specific utility and solve a problem every so often, whether it is more or less prolonged, are included in this list.

The user wants to download applications that give them something different. Applications that offer you a unique functionality (do not saturate them, let your app do one thing, not fifty). They download it for testing, but they will only keep it installed if they think they will open it again sooner or later.

However, according to research by Appboy, less than 25% of users continue to use the application the next day, dropping below 11% after a week. These five tips will help you increase the retention of your app users, because since you have them, you’d better not lose them.

What advantages will an app bring to your brand?

And for you as a brand? An app must be designed to generate engagement, so that the user can adopt you as a tool that will be used frequently, as often as necessary to solve the need for which it was created.

So why create an app? The aim of an application is to generate a relationship with the user. It is not a machine for creating and disseminating content, but a tool that aims to become an element that links you and the user in some way. An app is not made thinking about getting hundreds of downloads without anything else, but about establishing a medium or long term relationship with each one of them.

A website answers a query. They look at it and leave. Unless they find another object of their interest, they don’t come back on their own. An app is not just a query tool, so the content is more suited to a specific need.

For an app you don’t generate content incessantly, but try to reactivate the need that prompted you to use it the first time, either with an email or a push notification.

Some actions powered by apps that have managed to offer something useful and with it a recurrent use are:

  • Order a Cabify or Uber whenever you need to move from one point to another.
  • View the Amazon catalog when you need to make an online purchase.
  • Get a discount coupon when you pass near a McDonald’s.

What makes web and apps essential marketing tools for your business?

The web, a tool for attracting users

The web remains the most effective place to produce a first encounter between user and brand. It is accessed through a browser and does not require downloading and installation. It works on both desktop and mobile, so creating a web responsive or adaptable to both platforms we can reach almost all our potential users.

At a technical point, thanks to CMS such as WordPress, Joomla or similar, it is very easy to create a website. In addition, we have thousands of plugins and templates that help us design, structure and define content without the need to resort to code. An advantage that until recently only enjoyed the web, but now is matched by platforms like King of App.

But above all, a website is still a very useful tool for capturing and introducing the user into our conversion funnel. Establish your business model and rely on the web to engage the user towards your next goal.

The app as a unique engagement generation tool

An app needs downloading, which complicates access to a first use with respect to the web. However, it is a tool capable of adapting much better to the characteristics of a smartphone, being able to make full use of the sensors and specific functionalities offered by Android and iOS.

It responds to a specific need, so we get fidelity and recurrence. One of the main values of an app is that once downloaded, your brand becomes part of a selected club. We’re on their short list. We respond to a specific and recurring need because the user has decided to put us at hand to access it more quickly, every time you need to make use of the advantage that you are offering. In web the closest thing would be to save it in favorites, but the idea with which the user does it is different, rather as a reminder.

With the web we have to capture them in the moment. With the app you have already captured them and already done this you must be able to get the most out of the capture. This is to increase the value of downloading by applying mobile marketing techniques that invite the user to obtain an improvement of the service offered. In this sense, we should talk about the value of the freemium model, remarketing actions, cross-selling and upselling, among others. All this is fueled by the use of push notifications, whose advantages we have already discussed in this other article.

Of course, the web is useful and allows you to replicate many of the possible actions in apps, but their value or how they are drawn in the user’s mind is different. A web and an app can be cloned (in the image above you can see a comparison between a web and app version of different well-known tools), and yet the user does not use it the same because the implications are different. A website answers a specific question and an app to a common problem. The user may have no idea when he or she will use the app again, but doesn’t uninstall it because they think ‘I may need it again at another time’. If you are thinking about creating an app, don’t let it be for marketing caprice. If you don’t provide a content that calls for recurrence, it doesn’t make much sense for you to think about it.

It is the recurrence in using the advantage that a brand puts at our disposal that makes it different. Who would use the YouTube website to watch a video on their smartphone when they have the app downloaded? Send an email, look at Facebook or our bank account, all fully functional services through a browser that the user prefers to consult through the app.

Combine web and app to boost your marketing strategy

First of all, getting a user to download an app is much more complicated than getting a new session on a website, and yet it can be much more beneficial.

On a website you search for something specific, they find it and that’s it. Unless there is a Call to Action or other content that expands their interest in what brought them to your site they will have nothing else to do there. An app has a different objective, which is to be able to respond to a specific but recurring need.

How do you get your app to download? If your application has a specific task such as “know football results”, it is unlikely (although this is changing) that someone will make that query directly in the application store search engine. We talk about ASO when we apply the necessary techniques to make an application gain visibility in marketplaces: Google Play or App Store.

Until recently, the user didn’t usually search for a specific issue in the application store, because there is Google. In market places it is more common to search by the name of the app, whether it is guided by a recommendation, because it is the one that everyone talks about or because it has been read about on a website. Indeed, many downloads are attracted through a website and this is one of the ways in which synergies occur between both platforms.

Generate synergies between web, app and other marketing channels

So web or app? Why not both of you? Typically, a brand uses different marketing techniques and formats in order to activate the sale on which its business model is based.

Do you want to start taking advantage of the benefits of an app? Make it known through your website. Use it to generate compelling and converting content and take advantage of it to present your application and get downloads.

Don’t end up here. Feed back its use through other channels. Boosts app reopening with push notifications. Improve the results of your in-app sales by email and suggesting that they follow you on social networks in exchange for an improvement.

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