One of biggest misconceptions about mobile search is whether or not a dentist needs a native application or “app” for their practice. It’s also one of the most commonly asked questions we get from our clients. We get it. Having a customized app means your practice is cutting edge, progressive and well, just plain cool. Some say that it could even set you apart from your competitors.
Buysellads.com reported that 17.7 billion apps were downloaded worldwide in 2011, resulting in $15.1 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, smart phone and tablet sales continue to go up and up. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that dentists are considering if they should jump in on the app revolution or risk being left behind. But before you hire a designer to build your very own app, we think dentists should consider this very important question: What would your patients do on an app that they can’t do on your mobile website?
Let’s consider what people are generally doing on their smart phones when searching for local information, like choosing a dentist. Google says that we are searching for local information nearly 40% of the time we use our smart phones with 90% of those searches resulting in an action, 77% contacting the local business and 61% immediately calling the business. Our clients are seeing anywhere from 20% to 25% of their website visitors coming from mobile devices.
Data like that tells us a lot about the behavior of people searching for information on their smart phone. It’s clear that when they are searching for a dentist online, they usually find you via a Google search and when they do find you, they want to view your website and call to make an appointment easily. They really aren’t looking for much more than that and they certainly aren’t going to take the time to search for and download a specific app to connect with you. It’s much easier just to search in a browser. Further, most of us don’t regularly search for our dentist’s information like we would if they wanted quick access to our bank account, for example. The most successful apps are used on a daily basis.
It’s also important to know what kind of apps are typically successful in today’s digital marketplace. There are hundreds of apps being created and marketed everyday and unfortunately, many of them fail. Inc Magazine says that most people download applications for one of three reasons:
- It makes their life easier – People are busy and if an app makes organizing their life or schedule just a little bit easier, the app is usually a hit.
- It’s a source for fun – Games are probably the most widely downloaded of all the apps. If your app doesn’t provide your patients with entertainment…it probably won’t be downloaded.
- It saves them money – Coupon or discount based apps (like Groupon or RetailMeNot) are becoming very popular. These are websites people want to check daily, so it makes sense for them to take the time to download a “one-touch” app.
So, would your patients be doing anything on an app that they can’t do on a mobile website? We don’t think so. You can get more of your ideal patients searching for a dentist online without the $20,000 sticker price that comes along with an app design. Yes, you read that right. Mashable.com says that it can cost nearly $20,000 to create a mobile app that has enough weight in code to be worthwhile. There goes your marketing budget!
Our research and design team at BullseyeMedia recommends that if you want all of the benefits that an app can give your business, you simply need a responsive website. Your patients can still book an appointment and easily read through your services because it uses a flexible grid framework that automatically re-aligns the content to the device that accesses it. You can read more about the benefits of responsive websites in our previous blog post. Because mobile searches often lead to an action (like calling to schedule an appointment), we build responsive websites that prominently display your phone number in a click-to-call format. Problem solved, no app needed, $20,000 stays in the bank!
Is your website responsive? Contact us today for a site functionality audit.