As any modern business should know, appealing to a mobile audience is one of the defining factors of a successful digital marketing strategy. While the online audience used to rely on desktop and laptop computers for the entirety of their browsing and online shopping experiences, the mobile device has now become the primary way for people to access the Internet.

While most brands already recognize the importance of providing a user-friendly experience for mobile users, relying solely on a responsively designed website is no longer enough, particularly if you operate an e-commerce store. If your brand does not offer an impeccable online shopping experience to mobile users, you could be missing out on a great deal of potential revenue.

Developing a mobile app is more affordable than ever before, and the investment can pay for itself in no time. While there are multiple mobile platforms to consider, such as iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, allowing people to access your online store and any other important functions and features of your website via a mobile app presents various important advantages.

1. Built-in Mobile Features

Mobile apps present the unique ability to integrate with the built-in features commonly found on smartphones, potentially allowing brands to learn more about their target audiences and deliver more relevant and personalized content. For example, an app can be given permission to access the user’s location, allowing you to display products and services available in a specific geographical area. An app may even use the built-in accelerometer for facilitating navigation, lending a whole new level of engagement with your content, while the microphone can be used to help improve search experiences.

2. Offline Availability

Although fast becoming ubiquitous, mobile Internet connectivity is inherently unreliable, since it relies on a strong signal. However, an app allows people to interact with some, if not all, of your content offline. Once a user has downloaded an app, they will be able to use it as long as they like until the device runs out of battery power. When the user is accessing your app while online, you can upload up-to-date content to the device, allowing people to browse through products when they are offline. However, offline functionality will be limited for obvious reasons, although potential customers may still be able to save wish lists for returning to later.

3. Improved Usability

The mobile browsing experience still leaves something to be desired when compared to using the big screen, even if your website does feature an excellent, mobile-friendly design. Since things like navigational functions are part of the app itself, they don’t have to load from a webpage, thus improving interactivity and performance. In other words, an app can provide a far more responsive and optimized user experience. Additionally, because the apps are made for specific platforms, you’ll be better equipped to take advantage of the hardware and software features and functions of the device itself.

4. Mobile Notifications

Mobile users typically keep their smartphones with them wherever they go and, more often than not, they’re connected to the Internet almost constantly. This widespread availability allows you to send notifications to your customers no matter where they are. Using push notifications, you’ll be able to remind your potential customers of new products and upcoming promotions. Nonetheless, it is crucial that you don’t overuse push notifications, since they can quickly become annoying. Used correctly, however, they can be an invaluable marketing tool.

Understanding the advantages of publishing a mobile app will help you to decide whether it is the right solution for your particular e-commerce store. Most importantly, the app should provide a clear benefit to your target audience by providing genuine value. If it purely exists for promotional purposes, however, you’ll only end up wasting your money and annoying your users.