Last year, global consumer spend in the app stores reached $101 billion, and consumers spent, on average, nearly three hours daily on mobile devices—whether checking emails, ordering dinner, using ride sharing apps, booking a flight, or binge-watching their favorite shows.

The implications of mobile's rapid adoption and its hold on consumer attention for businesses are significant. Mobile has quickly become the platform that will accelerate your growth; but, failing to adapt will leave your company as a relic of the past.

For savvy marketers, product managers, investors, and executives, a comprehensive and data-fueled mobile strategy is no longer a suggested best-practice; rather, it is at the heart of your success with consumers.

As early as 2020, Millennials and Gen Z—the first digitally native populations—are set to account for 40% of consumers. So it's no surprise that there's a need now to accommodate these mobile-savvy generations, especially with 96% of Gen Z owning a smartphone. Even Baby Boomers are learning the importance of mobile, with 67% of them owning a smartphone as of 2018.

The bottom line is that mobile is the primary channel for consumers in virtually every demographic group—allowing them to connect anywhere, at any time, and driving a generational shift that has transformed the consumer landscape.

Mobile—and the additional insights it provides about consumers—should be the cornerstone of every business's go-to-market strategy.

If you take a step deeper into mobile, strategies tend to diverge between app and mobile Web. What many don't realize, however, is that the key to a successful mobile strategy is combining the two.

The Importance of a Harmonious Mobile Strategy

Neither mobile app nor mobile Web in isolation offers a basis for an effective mobile strategy. The two need to work together.

Mobile Web is particularly important for casting a wide net to garner interest in your brand and offering a pathway to funnel users to your app, where consumers can have a more streamlined, personalized, and powerful experience.

In H1 2019, apps accounted for 90% of time spent on mobile; mobile Web made up the other 10%. That may appear to be a meaningful difference, but both Web and app are critical for driving revenue. In fact, mobile Web offers an opportunity to convert new interest in your brand to engaged and frequent app users. When mobile Web and applications are integrated, they are a holistic unit and create greater value than in isolation.

When your business leverages a harmonious mobile strategy, you're able to give your customer a more engaging brand experience—which ultimately impacts your top line. The relationship between mobile Web and app is a give and take; for example, financial company E*Trade found that users who used both Web and mobile generated 70% more revenue than those who used only Web. On a broader scale, US retailers as a whole found that mobile shopping apps offer conversion rates of 3x through mobile Web and 2x through desktop.

When mobile Web and mobile app experiences are connected, marketers can create deeper connections and multiple touchpoints to drive sales and increase customer loyalty.

Alleviating Key Pain Points With Mobile Web and App Data

Making the shift to a mobile-focused business model can come with growing pains. You might not know what your customers really want in a mobile setting—or, if you do, you don't know exactly how to give it to them.

Without the full mobile picture, it can be difficult for marketers to address pivotal questions and challenges, such as mapping mobile referral traffic, decoding the overlap of mobile app and Web users, and understanding the role each channel plays in your go-to-market strategy. Without both mobile Web and app data, you wouldn't know which affiliate is referring the most Web traffic, whether that traffic is converting to app downloads, how engaged those app users are, and in what circumstances a user is engaging with both Web and app.

That's why it's imperative not to rely solely on mobile app or mobile Web data. With a more holistic view of the user experience, marketers can evaluate actions and determine whether marketing campaigns are reaching goals such as elevating brand experience or qualifying high-intent leads.

The key to these pain points, simply put, is data. For example, retailers that actively promoted their shopping apps recorded that mobile transactions comprised 65% of all transactions in 2018. That data propelled those retailers to prioritize their mobile strategy, since they knew it would present sizable results.

It is critical to learn how to understand this data and use it to your advantage. Marketers are often challenged with siloed data—making it difficult to deliver seamless customer experiences. By focusing on the complete analysis of all mobile data, both Web and app activities, marketers can reach a broader audience and gain a more holistic view of the customer journey.

Considering the modern app-centric mobile economy, marketers often undervalue the impact of mobile Web and separate the two in broader marketing strategies. But that needn't be the case. For example, news companies can leverage high-intent data signals on mobile Web—such as users who read five articles or view three pages—to drive highly engaged users to their mobile app, which offers a more streamlined experience and can better foster subscription signups.

The key is to leverage each of the respective inherent strengths of app and mobile Web to meet your customers where they are and deliver a winning experience. A critical component of evaluating this data is to have an apples-to-apples comparison. You need to have a unified source of mobile Web and app data if you are to draw meaningful conclusions on how the two relate and affect your business.

Mobile: The World's Primary Channel

Never before have marketers had always-on, always-connected access to consumers in a highly personalized fashion. The fact that more internet traffic and ad spend have shifted to mobile is a testament to the change in consumption: Mobile is truly the first screen.

Having a holistic mobile strategy—consisting of Web and app—is key to marketing success. The world has moved past digital transformation. Taking into account today's consumers, what's necessary is mobile transformation.

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The Mobile Opportunity: Recognizing the Power of Apps and the Mobile Web

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image of Lexi Sydow

Lexi Sydow is senior market insights manager at App Annie, a global provider of mobile data and analytics.

LinkedIn: Lexi Sydow

Twitter: @lexisydow