The Future of Your Business is in Their Hands

White Paper

This white paper describes how although some businesses have been keen to welcome the mobile revolution, most UK firms still have not mobilised.

eibDIGITAL advises businesses to welcome change - meaning not only being aware of what your visitors are doing, which device they are using and why they are using it, but essentially being able to act upon that knowledge.

eibDIGITAL’s Mobile Commerce Guide outlines the 10 key decisions for mCommerce success, which will enable you to devise a plan to refine your mobile strategy through practical mCommerce tips, essential research and insights, a range of success stories and invaluable advice.

This paper offers practical tips to optimise user experience, advises on the case for mobile sites and Apps, and finishes with essential future predictions and a concluding summary.

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Mobile Optimised Site v App

One of the hottest mCommerce issues facing today’s marketer is whether to invest in native Apps, or to focus on delivering first class mobile optimised sites. Or both.

This is a critical decision, which has no simple answer. First, let’s look at the background to taking the mobile optimised site v App decision.

In September 2010, two years after Apps first appeared on the screens of early adopting iPhone users, the front cover of ‘WIRED’ screamed:

“The Web is dead”.

The apocalyptic tagline that ran along with the article read:

“Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services - think Apps - are less about the searching and more about the getting”.

To a degree, the prediction has been borne out. Apps have enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence in their short lifetime. By March 2012 Apple reported 25 billion App downloads, with App downloads tracking at 1 billion per month, a number matched by its major App store competitor, Android Market. Apps have made a healthy contribution to Apple’s revenues, generating an estimated $6 billion, which includes the 30% Apple takes in its share of App download spend, charges from in-App payments, and revenue from iAd, its in-App advertising business.

For many years, the mobile Internet fell well short of its potential in delivering a satisfactory Internet based engagement channel for information hungry mobile users. This created a vacuum for Apps to gain traction and multiply, unopposed. The phenomenal App success story has been turbo-charged by slick marketing by the App stores, and by the emergence of advertiser-friendly specialist App companies which talked the right language when appealing to client and agency based creatives, developers and C-level staff.

The Case For Mobile Sites

We believe that the Web is far from dead: today’s Smartphones are equipped with superior HTML5 browsers that will give the mobile web a new lease of life.

Mobile Internet browsing is now 150% year-on-year, and it is predicted by Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley that access to the Internet via mobile will overtake Internet access via PC by the end of 2014. Google and others monitoring usage data predict this milestone will occur in late 2013.

Google estimates that only 17% of brands have optimised their sites for mobile, which shows a clear correlation with their site analytics that show average mobile site ‘bounce’ rates of 79%. The message here is that if you simply serve up your full mobile site onto customers’ mobile phones, they will bounce off your site immediately, and seek a competitor’s site which has been made for mobile.

Google research reveals 61% of mobile users are unlikely to return to a mobile site if they have had trouble accessing it on their phone; 40% said they would visit a competitor’s site instead; 19% would have a negative overall impression of the company if they are dissatisfied with the performance of the site.

In a Yahoo! survey asking customers how they prefer to access website content on mobile, 12% stated a preference for Apps, 33% preferred content via the browser, and 55% expressed no preference, as long as the brand provided a good user experience.

This contradicts the widely held view that customers love Apps, and that organisations must invest in Apps to satisfy this preference.

There is extensive industry research showing which activities mobile users would perform most on their mobiles if sites provided them: maps, info checking, shopping, social networking and coupons all score highly.

There is extensive industry research showing which activities mobile users would perform most on their mobiles if sites provided them: maps, info checking, shopping, social networking and coupons all score highly.

Online Activities USA Mobile Internet Users Would Perform More Often via Mobile Internet if the Display Were Tailored to Mobile Phones, Jan 11 (% of Respondents)

[Download PDF for Chart]

The vast majority of organisations that have launched mobile sites have produced sites which show an uncanny similarity, the result of a ‘screen scrape’ approach, which involves dropping existing web content into a vanilla mobile site template without opting for backend integration. The advantage of the screen scrape approach is that it presents a quick route to market, and avoids potential conflict between PC web and mobile web developers.

However, there are significant disadvantages of screen scraping when compared with the fully integrated approach, which provides the better long-term solution. The main disadvantage of using screen scraping is that it doesn’t create a differentiated experience for the brand. In the last chapter we noted that the M&S mobile optimised site has one of the highest satisfaction mCommerce ratings, that’s in large part because the design has been created to work well with mobile browsers. Another missed opportunity of the screen scrape approach that we will look at in the next chapter is personalisation. With integration of the mobile site with customer databases it’s possible to deliver tailored offers for the individual that are well-known for increasing engagement, conversion and average order value.

The HTML5 Question

HTML5 will provide some clear benefits for brands and users alike. These include better provision of rich media, the ability to access and use data submitted in previous browsing sessions, and the ability to be accessed at times and in places of poor signal coverage.

mCommerce Success Story Case Study -

The web App is interesting since it shows how HTML5 may make support for different mobile OS easier in future.

The App does a great job in explaining the benefits of non-apps. Under the heading, a better, faster App the FT explains these benefits:

  • Web browser access

    No App store download needed Automatic enhancements and no need to visit an App store for the latest version

  • Reading offline

    The latest edition is automatically stored for offline access

  • Greater range of content
  • Use your existing account

    No additional registration required

  • The Guardian recently reported that Financial Times passed 2m users for its HTML5 web App 10 months after its launch, with mobile now driving 12% of subscriptions and 19% of traffic to the newspaper’s digital offering.

    FT Managing Director, Rob Grimshaw, told The Guardian that switching to HTML5 wasn’t just about a spat with Apple, but was an attempt to ensure the FT could scale quickly across different devices and platforms:

    The origins of the web app come from thinking more broadly about our mobile strategy, and particularly how we are going to cope with developing for numerous different platforms. There are at least five [native mobile platforms] out there that you reasonably have to cover, and a web app is the obvious solution. We just accelerated it because of some of the things Apple did with their subscriptions.

    Rob Grimshaw

    Managing Director

    5 Top Tips for Producing Great Mobile Sites

    [Download PDF for Table]

    Predictions for Mobile App Growth

    There’s a lot of debate about the longterm future of Apps. Many believe that the capability of handsets and mobile browsers will develop such that Apps are only here for the short-term.

    Former eBay designer and mobile evangelist, Luke Wrobelowski comments:

    Are we really going to have one App for every Website? Apps put a lot of pressure on the user, they need to figure out which one they want, install it, and then actually use it (long term use is rare). Once you realise a lot of problems are about information access - the App model doesn’t hold up very well”.

    Luke Wrobelowski

    Former eBay designer and mobile evangelist

    The Case for Apps

    For the marketer, the logic for investingin Apps is compelling, though there are significant risks and costs. There are three key reasons:

    1. Personalisation

    Mobile is the ultimate personalised marketing channel: we don’t share our handsets, and most of us never part company with our phones. When I download an App, it becomes ‘mine’, creating an easy, convenient, instant one-to-one shortcut to the chosen brand through a bookmarked icon on my handset or tablet which can be accessed 24/7, in all locations, with or without internet access or cellular signal.

    2. Payment Channel

    Through iTunes, Apple established a convenient, secure and trusted channel for music lovers to download and pay for music. iTunes users set up their accounts online, added credit card details just once, and agreed T&Cs authorising Apple to charge them via their mobile bills for multiple purchases, typically at low transactions costs (79p - £3.00). iTunes then added books, other goodies and Apps, to be paid for using the same payment channel. Android and Microsoft have since replicated this payment model.

    3. Adoption levels and preferences

    The stats seem to show that users prefer Apps when given the choice. Data from comScore and Flurry show that the majority of mobile time by users is spent using Apps rather than mobile:

    • 82% of mobile user time involves Apps
    • Time spent with Apps v sites 90 mins v 75 mins
    • App Closing in on TV

      [Download PDF for Chart]

      What's the Consumer Benefit of Apps?

      Whatever the business sector and consumer proposition, Apps are all about delivering a clear consumer benefit, delivering engaging content, maximising download volumes, and ensuring frequent use. This explains why the biggest App categories are games and social networking, which account for 62% of all App usage.

      It also explains the incredible engagement with Apps; Comscore report2 that 82% of mobile media time is via Apps.

      If you’re struggling to tick one or more of the following boxes, your App is unlikely to hit the mark with download volumes or frequency.

      {Download PDF for Table]

      mCommerce Success Story: Shazam App

      Consider the success of Shazam; the audio-tagging App, that has achieved 200 million downloads. There are two strands to Shazam’s success. First, its accurate, user-friendly audio recognition software allowing music lovers to identify and buy the music they’re discovering at festivals and in clubs, tagging their favourites and sharing via social media. Second, extending the service to recognise TV and radio ad jingles, taking App users directly to corresponding sites and Apps. The result? It took Shazam 10 years to log its first billion tags, and 10 months to log its last billion tags.

      The 2012 Super Bowl proved to be a watershed for Shazam, which ran an experiment in audio, tagging 50 per cent of the ads broadcast. Viewers Shazam’d ads as much as they commented about the brands on all social media channels combined. But Shazam’s real success lies far beyond the tag numbers: on average all Shazam TV campaigns have seen 65 per cent or more ‘post tagging’ engagement. And critically, Shazam interactions convert to sale: an Old Navy campaign resulted in a 27% conversion to sale.

      According to CEO Andrew Fisher, consumer use of Shazam to respond to TV ads far exceeded expectations, no doubt easing negotiations to sign an exclusive deal with ITV in the UK.

      Shazam adapted their App from music recognition to activation channel for broadcast ads

      Native Apps bring a range of consumer benefits and revenue streams for B2C and B2B business. As a rule, the Apps which enable users to access other native functions on the handset to create a highly personalised experience are most likely to encourage repeat usage. Consider the camera phone, photolibrary, contact book, calendar, social media profiles, GPS, accelerometer, calculator and browser.

      API plug ins, including Google Maps, weather updates and Facebook Connect are all popular, allowing the App to aggregate and compile highly personalised data, fed in real-time. The App then provides a concierge service.

      5 Top Recommendations for Producing Great Apps

      [Download PDF for Table]

      The Predictions for App Growth

      To conclude this chapter, here are three predictions for the future of Apps.

      Prediction 1 - Low Cost,Self-Serve Apps

      A new breed of high-end self-serve App tools is launching which allows brands and organisations with limited technical capabilities to build their own Apps for multiple platform hosting and download (iOS, Android, Microsoft). One example is Appsplash ( that allows easy content imports, geo-location based offers and coupons to attract new customers and stimulate repeat visits through targeted in-App push notifications.

      Prediction 2 - Apple and Android Challenged

      One of the key trends this year will be the arrival of newcomers who are likely to challenge the dominance of Apple and Android, according to Forrester’s 2012 Mobile Trends for CPS Professionals, report3. The main players, Amazon and Facebook, will leverage their strengths in using social recommendations and personalisation to create new tools, which could facilitate App discovery and pose a challenge to the established App stores.

      Amazon’s challenge is based on cloudbased capabilities and the ability to personalise content; Facebook brings massive mobile audience and experience in working with web developers to distribute content virally.

      Prediction 3 - The Importance of Apps Will Diminish With the Advance of HTML5:

      9 Key Features of an mCommerce HTML5 Site:

      [Download PDF To see Listed Features]


      Apps have emerged rapidly as a major force in the mobile landscape, and account for disproportionate share of brands’ mobile marketing budgets for the ROI they deliver. This is because the majority offer little if any consumer benefit and will be used just once, which renders many of them a vanity item.

      Their importance can be explained by the ease and convenience for consumers to have a ‘buttonised’ shortcut to their favourite brands, and Apps have assumed the opportunity to provide immediate ‘brand in hand’ access. Critically, Apps have established a secure, convenient and popular payment channel that will continue to appeal to brands and organisations aiming to monetise compelling content.

      Apps have taken the initiative, and brands’ budgets, as the mobile Internet had a slow start, and for many years offered a sub-standard user experience. However, with the advances in HTML5 browser technology and enhanced mobile search, we predict the mobile world will turn rapidly in coming months, and the importance of Apps will diminish. After all, there is only one Internet, to which every mobile user has access.

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