Let’s face it, mobile communication is here to stay and new, and sometimes old, marketing tactics are emerging in this medium.
Enter the mobile microsite. A microsite is one of the most effective ways to communicate a highly-targeted message or concept in a way that inspires user action. Mobile microsites are all about simplicity – streamlined content, a touch-friendly interface and design that is optimized for display on handheld devices like iPhone, Android and other smartphones.
Mobile Microsites Utility Applications
Mobile applications are by not limited to games. You can create many types of applications to help promote your brand. In many cases, providing a valuable service can do more to engender trust and brand affiliation for your brand than providing
entertainment. Here are examples of highly valuable and regularly downloaded utility applications:
Flashlights, carpenter levels, additional security and memory, phone usage statistics, password keepers, unit conversion charts, and so on
World maps, foreign languages, poetry, books, math tutorials, flash cards, graphing calculators, periodic tables, chemistry calculators, dictionaries, thesaurus, and so on
Stock reports and tickers, banking and personal finance, budgeting, bill reminders, mortgage calculators, and so on.
News and entertainment
TV and print newsfeeds, celebrity gossip, sports scores, game highlights, and so on.
Current condition, alerts, weather maps, moon phases, allergy and ozone reports, and so on.
Checklists, spreadsheet programs, PDF reader, voice recording, expense tracking, remote meetings, time tracking, and
Navigation and travel
Road and traffic maps; flight, bus, and subway delays; currency exchange; alternate route finders; and so on.
Multimedia & Music
White noise editing, photography tools, photo-editing programs, radio, musical instruments, and so on.
Snow reports, golf cards, recopies, drink mixing, nutritional facts, gym assistants, calorie counters, and so on.
Facebook and MySpace applications, Twitter feeds, social shopping tools, and so on.
Where Do You Get Apps?
Apple’s App Store has been touted as the place to go to get mobile applications, but it is not the only place you can download or purchase an app. Applications downloaded from Apple’s App Store are usable only on devices running the iPhone operating system, but mobile apps are available for a variety of different mobile operating systems. Google and Windows Mobile both offer apps that are tied to their operating systems – Android and Windows Mobile, respectively.
There’s also a growing list of mobile app vendors such as Handango, Pocketland, and MobiHand. Users can find mobile app aggregators that gather different databases of mobile applications and allow them to search from one portal, such as iMobile.us and VilleMobile.com.
Google offers Android Market, where users can upload applications and comment on other applications. Eric Chu, Android Program Manager, says:
“Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after only three simple steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe your content, and publish it.We also intend to provide developers with a useful dashboard and analytics to help drive their business and ultimately improve their offerings.”
This could be marketing gold for some companies as they try to establish what applications their audience really finds engaging.
The Windows Mobile Catalog also allows users to search for and download apps for smart phones that are running Windows Mobile. Other than the Windows Mobile Catalog, more than 18,000 Windows Mobile applications are spread all over the Web with no central repository or store. Luckily,Microsoft is taking cues from Google and Apple, and plans to launch its own app store, called Skymarket, with the launch of Windows Mobile 7.
Key Elements of Mobile Microsite Design
A mobile microsite is a collection of targeted web pages that are designed for handheld display. The goal of any microsite is to offer highly targeted content and a strong call-to-action. In the case of a mobile microsite however, there are some other design and development factors that are specific to handheld devices, including:
Mobile Page Design & Layout – you’ll want to make sure that your microsite pages are formatted for viewing on smaller handheld or tablet screens, while retaining your overall brand identity and consistency with your desktop site and other marketing collateral. You’ll also want to consider the bandwidth limits for many users on 3G and 4G and networks, and ensure that your pages are coded lightly for quick download and minimal data usage, within reason.
Mobile-Specific Content – it’s important to remember that reading comprehension is different on the web compared to printed materials, and that’s especially true for mobile web pages. Viewers on mobile devices are best served by streamlined content that is easy to digest at-a-glance, so this may mean rewriting some of your copy for mobile-friendly reading.
Touch-Screen Interface – when designing for the mobile web it’s important to bear in mind that your users are going to be on touch-screen devices, so it’s important to make sure that any interactive page elements (submit buttons, form elements, navigation and other links) are sized appropriately for a touch-interface.
Call-to-Action and Conversion – as with any landing page, you’ll want to ensure that your mobile microsite includes a strong call-to-action that will inspire visitor action and lead to conversions. The call-to-action will vary depending on your goals, but the same conversion actions that are available on a standard website are also available on mobile microsite, for example: Request info, Product purchase, Newsletter, Signup, Donate or volunteer.
On mobile microsites in particular, there also other mobile-specific actions users can take: such as Place a phone call (click-to-call), Send a text message (SMS), Download an app, Take a photo, View mapping/directions (GPS).
Device Detection – If your campaign targets users on both mobile and desktop then you will want to place device detection on your microsite landing pages, so that users on handhelds will be detected and redirected to the mobile equivalent.
How do Visitors Arrive at a Mobile Microsite?
There are a number of ways targeted traffic may be driven to a mobile microsite, including:
Mobile Search Engines – as with standard desktop search, mobile search is a popular way for visitors to find your website via engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. When targeted traffic is driven to your website by relevant keyword searches on mobile, you want to make sure that those visitors are presented with a mobile-friendly landing page in order to make a good first impression with a user-friendly experience.
Mobile Advertising – most search advertising programs such as Google AdWords allow you to display ads on mobile devices as well as desktop. If you don’t direct the referrals from mobile ads to a mobile landing page it’s a missed opportunity. Many 3rd party native apps (that users download to their mobile device) display advertising as well. In short, if you’re advertising on the mobile web a mobile microsite or landing page is a must.
Email – More people than ever now read their email on smartphones and other handhelds. Ideally, your promotional emails should have a mobile option for these users, with links to a microsite landing page designed for mobile viewing.
QR Codes – QR Codes are a new way to link offline and online media; users scan the QR Code on their mobile device, which then directs them to a web page. Because you know the viewer will be on a handheld it is important to make sure the QR Code points to a mobile-friendly website; pointing a QR Code to a standard desktop website is a mistake.
Links from Other Websites and Directories – As with any website, there is a good chance users will be referred to your microsite from other web pages such as blogs, reviews, press releases and directory listings.
In short, on the mobile web there are a range of avenues users may take to arrive at your microsite, so it’s important to provide these visitors with a mobile-friendly design and positive user experience.