A weekend search on my iPhone for a Dunkin’ Donuts in an Illinois college town brought home to me the need for a robust mobile website EVEN IF you do have a downloadable mobile app. Personally, I don’t like apps. They are hard to find and identify on your smartphone and remember that you have them in the first place. As smartphones become as much a PDA as a phone, people will be looking for ways to simplify what is on their devices so app catalogs will go the way of cable channel directories.
But back to Dunkin Donuts. I searched for a store locator that took me to a mobile-optimized landing page that looked great but basically said “to continue with a mobile experience, you have to download our app.” So I took the road less traveled and chose the button that said “visit our full site” and that is where mobile-friendly ended — just as my mouth began to water at the thought of a french crueller from Dunkin’.
So if I wanted to locate a store, I was now in the land of ‘pinch and zoom” and working up a donut appetite at the same time. For one tenth of what Dunkin’ app cost, they could have had a mobile-optimized site that allowed me to find the store and be done. They could have thrown in a free donut with a cup of coffee offer for my trouble as well while adding my behavior data to everything they know about customers and more.
Somehow there is a belief that app downloads are like loyalty clubs. That if you download you will return to the brand again and again. Studies show that only one in four app is ever touched again after the initial download. And often the app this is provided only does one thing…find a store, get our newsletter, you get the picture.
So the take away from my donut safari is three things. First, make sure your app if you must have one, ALWAYS take the customer to a mobile-friendly site (not just a landing page) and gives them everything they need and want to make a purchase decision on the go. Second, give those who do not want to download your app a mobile experience anyway. If they search for you or you some up in a more generic search, having your own mobile website will improve your ranking and you own your brand. You decide what the listing says and doesn’t say. Third (and tied to number two), consider skipping the app and putting your money into a robust mobile site that includes hours of operation, directions, location info, coupons, sign up for deals and newsletters, videos about your product or even your latest commercial, pictures of product or people if you are in the service business – there is virtually nothing that can not go on a mobile website. But putting it there without thinking about the customer is a definite show-stopper.
All of this anxiety came from wanting a donut. Sure hope anxiety burns calories. Maybe I should have been a police officer?