I’m not even going to pretend that I could have provided you with the below level of detail when it comes to selecting the right mobile marketing solution for your business – but I can direct you to the superior knowledge of Rob Borley and Paul Boag who explain, in very simple terms, the considerations that must be evaluated when you’re deciding what your first or next steps are in the world of mobile marketing and mobile web development.

Like every other digital marketing channel, mobile has its strengths and weaknesses. 45% of people interact with online content on their mobile device while out and about. That rises to 70% for 16-25 year olds (UK Sept. 2011). So by implementing mobile marketing initiatives you are not only creating a new touch point to better reach your target audience but you are also improving the user experience for those existing customers who are already actively engaging with your business online and (trying) through their mobile device.

For the increasingly fragmented digital landscape of customers who are using multiple devices to connect to the internet and your brand daily, you want them to have a streamlined and consistent user experience across all of your marketing channels, be them offline or online, mobile or web.

The team at Boagsworld have done an excellent job of highlighting the key elements you need to consider when deciding what is the best mobile marketing solution for your business. In short, they are:

1. Whether or not a mobile solution is right for your business at all
Sometimes your current website can be viewed well on mobile devices and the development costs and energy it will take to create a customised mobile solution will not deliver a better user experience or a strong return on investment – therefore may not be the right thing for your business at this time.

2. Design – Adaptive or Responsive mobile website design
If you choose to build a customised mobile website the developers will need to make a decision whether or not to build an adaptive design website, or a responsive design website.

Adaptive design pre-defines the size of the screen your users are viewing your site through and allows you to present the same content in exactly the same way on every screen size (or device). However, it does require you know which screen sizes and devices you are targeting in advanced (iPad, iPhone, Motorola Zoom etc).

Responsive mobile web design rearranges the content on your webpage to automatically fit the screen size or mobile device. The offers scalability in a world where new mobile devices are constantly being released into the market place and your target market might switch devices regularly in a short space of time.

3. Web application (app) versus Native application (app)
When you decide that you definitely want to build a customised mobile web solution you will have to consider what you want your users to use your mobile site for? If you have a specific action that your users must complete while on your site – such as make an online purchase, enter information into an application – such as your weight or a food diary to track your progress or perhaps moving money from one bank account to another – you will have to decide if your application should be web based (using an internet browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Safari) or native based (using the iPhone or Android phone functionality).

A Web app is usually built with HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript and provides the developers with an ability to tailor the user experience to the mobile environment – so it is different to the standard computer based interaction, despite the outcome or content being much the same. There are limitations to what can be achieved in a web browser but the benefits are huge in that the application can be accessed from any mobile device regardless of carrier or phone functionality.

A Native app is your specific iPhone or Android app that is build with the mobile operating system and specific phone functionality in mind. The benefits of these apps is that they can take full advantage of all of the features that your phone has and can tap into them to create a superior experience for the user. A Native app can also be sold through the app stores and find a whole new audience – as well as potentially being a revenue generation stream – the downside is that you need to develop a unique application for each operating system (iPhone and Android), which can be very costly.

The Boagsworld article then goes into more detail to help you understand if a web or native app is right for your business and explains more about the development scope, timings and costs. I suggest you read the full article for more information.

At the end of the day, I think most of us can agree that mobile is absolutely essential to the marketing mix of the future, the question for most of you is, “Is it essential to your current marketing mix?” I would suggest YES. If you’re not considering mobile in your 5 year strategy, you may find yourself left too far behind. While users will put up with clunky mobile experiences for a little while yet they won’t be forgiving for very long – especially when your competitors provide them with an easier, faster and less frustrating option. Mobile offers a truly local and global opportunity, don’t be too slow to realise its potential.