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Mobile Web vs. Apps vs. Native SMS: Tips for Mobile Engagement Success

by Jessica Langdorf, Doreen Saxby  |  
August 19, 2016

Over two-thirds of Americans now possess a mobile phone, and we use it for just about anything and everything, multiple times per day. And we've all heard those reports that shock us with the extent of our mobile obsession, suggesting that people are willing to give up beloved vices like chocolate rather than give up their phone.

So knowing the significance of the mobile phone to our everyday lives, and quite frankly our personal identity, how can brands effectively master communications with customers in a way that achieves results—in a way that is respectful of the user? And what methods should we take to reach them? Can brands just build a mobile app and call it a day?

It isn't that simple.

The opportunities for businesses to engage with mobile users go beyond simply creating an app or mobile website. Mobile communications need to be informed, responsive, intelligent, and mindful of the user's unique experience on mobile versus other platforms, such as the desktop.

Here's why it matters: The micro-moments (a term coined by Google) that occur when people instinctively turn to a device to act on a need to learn something, take action on a task, watch something, or buy something... are intent-driven, highly personal moments when choices are made and preferences are formed.

But how or why people choose to open an app or a mobile Web browser, or initiate or respond to a text, can affect usability design and customer communication strategy.

One way to give mobile communications a boost is to provide real-time chat sessions to engage with customers to capture their attention in the micro-moment. That can be facilitated via mobile Web browsers, mobile apps and SMS. But which is best?

Simply put, they all serve a purpose based on why the user has chosen that specific medium. All three should all be employed as part of an effective mobile messaging strategy. Let's look at each one a little deeper.

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Jessica Langdorf is VP, Digital Interactions Lab, at TouchCommerce (now part of Nuance Communications), a provider of omni-channel customer engagement solutions for market-leading brands. She is a Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) with an Award of Achievement in Web Analytics.

LinkedIn: Jessica Langdorf (Gammon)


Doreen Saxby is director of the Digital Interactions Lab at TouchCommerce (now part of Nuance Communications), a provider of omni-channel customer engagement solutions for market-leading brands. She consults on strategic launches with best-practices for the advancement of cross-device omni-channel UX, data usage, and automation.

LinkedIn: Doreen Saxby

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  • by Ruby Fri Aug 19, 2016 via web

    This is a great article. It clarify the WHY for each type of communication platform. Looking forward for more of your contribution.

  • by Ihor Tue Aug 23, 2016 via web

    Thank you for article. We use SMS to rich all customer in developing markets. Last year Facebook said a lot of things about how to bring all benefits of Web to all countries. They have a focus to small screens and feature phones. I think that Mobile Web is what need to be looked at. It is possible to create mobile web apps for all platforms in 10 lines of code with UI frameworks like Webix, Sencha etc.

  • by Neha Sharma Tue Apr 4, 2017 via web

    Very Nice Article.......Today's day is competition between mobile app and web app. So its require to adopt very technology, if you want to stay in the market .

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