Mobile technology is exploding, and with smartphones trending, a lot of restaurateurs are asking themselves whether they should build an application for an iPhone or Android phone. The answer is no. Building a mobile website is easier, more efficient and much less expensive.
Building a mobile website
You already have a website, so it’s easier to optimize it for mobile devices than to find someone to build two different applications, one for iPhones and one for Android phones. Hiring someone to optimize your website for mobile devices is easy; they can pull all the important information that’s already on your website, tweak it and your website will function beautifully on a mobile device.
Building applications takes a lot more time. You have to write the program, install the menu, add an online ordering option and create other features. And don’t forget that you must have two separate apps.
Creating mobile applications is incredibly inefficient because only 40% of your audience has an Android phone or an iPhone. Nielsen reported in March that about 50% of mobile devices in the United States are smartphones. Of those smartphone users, 48% use Android phones, 32% use iPhones and 20% are using other operating systems.
You’re completely neglecting the other 60% of your audience who don’t have an iPhone or Android phone. Optimize your mobile website, and everyone who has a smartphone, or a basic phone with limited browsing capabilities, can visit your website easily and conveniently.
Lastly, but most importantly, applications are expensive to build. The minimum cost for a quality application set-up is about $3,000 per application. This means that the cost to build an application for both iPhones and Android phones is about $6,000. However, you can find people on websites such as oDesk to create an application for about $1,500 each. Maintaining those applications will cost about $140 a month.
Optimizing your existing website for mobile devices is much cheaper. Punch Mobile Marketing builds mobile-friendly websites for $150 for a one-time set up, and maintenance is $50 a month.
Things to keep in mind
The first thing to remember is that if you own a restaurant with only one or a few locations, your customers probably aren’t going to download your app. Even if you offer your app for free, it takes up valuable space on your customers’ phones and it’s unlikely they’ll download it, if it can even be found. Some people may download your application just to look at your menu, if that’s the only place they could find it, and then delete the app after they were done.
Applications don’t offer search-engine optimization. If your app were to get searched in the app store or marketplace, it would most likely be buried in the results. Mobile websites, however, can utilize SEO and be listed in the top results for a local search on Google or Bing.
Sara Petersen is the content and marketing manager at Punch Mobile Marketing. Punch’s mission is to produce the best mobile-marketing content and solutions for foodservice providers to succeed at the mobile level. Read the company’s blog, follow it on Twitter and “like” its Facebook page.