Mobile Microsites: do you need one?


by David Addison

Do you have a sale, other promotion, or a special messaging you want to deliver to a targeted audience? An audience likely on the go, busy and best reached via a mobile device. In the summer of 2012 it was not uncommon to see mobile usage rates of 15-40% depending upon the business sector, user demographic and psychographic. At the close of 2013 we have a client doing better than 60% mobile e-commerce.

These days delivering a message to a busy user is multi-faceted. Delivering the message to a mobile microsite has the power to turn coal to diamond.

  1. You need a mechanism to drive traffic (pay-per-click, pay-per-call, pay-per-post, social ad, banner ad, podcast, blog post, viral campaign, YouTube video, print—think QR code, radio, television, and more). Organic traffic works too. The list of ways to get the message out are many. Luckily, modern marketing provides for narrowcasting — that is, marketing to small niches.  Narrowcasting is efficient and profitable.
  2. If the campaign is going to be online — what we're here to discuss — you'll need a website capable of delivering the message to many devices. You'll need a website that renders well on a computer (desktop, laptop or netbook), tablet and smartphone. It is not enough anymore to target just desktop users.  People are on the go.
  3. Lastly, you'll need a highly tuned call-to-action on the website with as few distractions as possible. Something simple, streamlined and quick. That's because we're all so terribly busy. Whatever you do, it needs to be convenient. That's where landing pages and microsites come into the fold.

A microsite is a miniature Web site with a specific call-to-action or ask. Savvy marketers know that microsites have a lower cost-per-order, higher conversion rate, and lower abandonment (or bounce rate). This is because the laser focus and streamlined navigation keeps the user engaged and on the path to conversion.

Mobile Trends

Our thesis is that mobile is here to stay and that it has become a haven for savvy marketers. Much of the world is ahead of the United States with regard to smartphone use. This is because their users cannot afford computers. All they have is mobile. We are in a time of transition. The era of mobile is now!

  • Morgan Stanley estimates that the number of mobile Internet users will overtake desktop users before the end of 2014. In July 2009, social networking surpassed e-mail in terms of the number of users. Soon, mobile will trump the desktop. Gartner and Cisco report that by 2013 more people will use their mobile phones than PCs to get online.  And by 2015 there will be one mobile device for every person living on earth.  Since 2010 mobile searches have grown 4x.
  • At the end of 2011, there were 6,000,000,000 (yup, that's billion) mobile subscriptions.  This is equivalent to 87 percent of the world’s population. Ericsson, in June 2012, reports as many as 6.2 billion subscriptions with the number of actual subscribers being around 4.2 billion.  Mobile subscriptions in the developed world has reached a saturation point with at least one cell phone subscription per person.
  • The largest mobile markets are China, India and the United States. There are now more than a billion subscribers in China and India is not far behind.  China has 400 million mobile Web users and is the number one market for smartphones.
  • Mobile Internet usage exceeded desktop Internet usage in India during April and May 2012 (courtesy of StatCounter, which tracks over 900 million page views from Indian IP addresses per month).
  • It is debatable whether the tablet is any more a mobile device than a laptop.  The touch screen gives the tablet and smartphone different user interface options.  This makes the device a different sort of animal.  More like a smartphone. Almost 68 million tablets were sold in 2011.
  • According to Q4 2010 research by The MMA and Lightspeed Research in UK, France and Germany, 45 percent of consumers (especially younger people) noticed mobile advertising.  Of these, 29% percent respond to ads.
  • Per the Google/Ipsos U.S. consumer Mobile Movement survey (April 2011), of people who react to seeing a mobile ad, 42% clicked on the mobile ad.  35% visited the advertiser’s site. 32% search for more information on their phone; 49% make a purchase and 27% call the business. Mobile users want to connect with the business in their local area.  Google says that 95% of smartphone users search for local information. Compuwave says that 60% of users expect a mobile site to load in three seconds or less.  More than seventy percent expect a mobile site to load as fast as a desktop site. Limelight Networks says that 80% of mobile users abandon a mobile site if they have a bad experience?  Forty percent of consumers turn to a competitor's site after a bad mobile experience says Compuwave.

If you want more mobile stats, visit the Mobile Thinking website.  They're the mother load of mobile stats. 

Microsite Meet Mobile

In the late fall of 2011 the United States reached a tipping point in the mobile space (ever heard of Black Friday … that was the definitive day where mobile domination tipped the scales and we’ve never looked back). Mobile traffic to many Web sites jumped by more than 10% over the Christmas holiday. While much of the shift can be attributed to the release of the iPad3, Kendal Fire and other tablets, we can’t ignore the smartphone.

For organizations with ample marketing budgets, microsites are just another channel in the digital marketing toolbox, something between e-mail marketing and pay-per-click landing pages on a main Web site. So why is it that most organizations don't use microsites? The largest ones do. Microsites have largely been out of reach for the smaller businesses because there has not been enough time or resources. SaaS solutions (point and click development platforms) are changing the landscape because they are inexpensive and efficient. The marriage of mobile and microsite technology presents a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes. That is, if the decision makers wake up and join the mobile Internet revolution.

Microsites are smaller, simpler, and more highly focused than a Web site. The mobile equivalent is optimized with fewer graphics to maximize load speed on mobile networks. They are big enough to need more functionality than just a single Web page (e.g. e-commerce or digital Call to Action). They are heavily optimized for SEO keywords and are often geo-targeted for a location, demographic group, or event. They are campaign-based (or event) and tend to have a short lifespan though we have small to mid-sized clients using microsites for a variety of recurring purposes.

Ask yourself: does my organization need a mobile microsite? The answer depends on your responses to a few questions.

  • Do my users transact business on the move?
  • Can my call-to-action be accomplished during dead time (e.g. waiting in a queue, at railroad tracks with a train crossing, or while at a swim meet, track meet, or baseball game?)
  • Are my prospects and customers on mobile devices and engaged outside of my normal business hours?
  • Can I deliver my sales pitch in a concise and streamlined fashion?
  • What percentage of my traffic comes from smartphones (e.g. look at your site’s Google Analytics data)?
  • Are my competitors in the mobile market?

Success with Smartphone technology is about convenience. For most organizations, the benefit of having a Web site is to be found and contacted. The benefit of a mobile microsite is to be found and contacted easily where the user is whether on the go or at home using a mobile device. This is a bit different than the desktop counterpart.  For those businesses driving lots of traffic to their sites via QR codes, newsletters, pay-per-click, etc., the benefit of a mobile microsite is even greater convenience because the microsite is tuned to a single act (e.g. requesting the user to take a single action like filling out a contact form or click-to-call) without the clutter of an entire Web site.

Bottom line, mobile microsites work! We’re having tremendous success with mobile lead generation, educating, sharing, e-commerce, advocacy, membership renewals, pledge campaigns, and action oriented e-mail offers.

Maine's leader in mobile website design and development

In late 2010 we (the principals of Dirigo) broke ground on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tool, developed for, for building mobile microsites in the non-profit space. We’ve built gads of sites and consider ourselves mobile experts. Donorfull’s SaaS tool is our secret weapon for creating mobile microsite around fundraising appeals (raising dough for any purpose), advocacy, and volunteerism in any sector regardless of profit status. We’ve booked more than 3,000 hours in the mobile space and we’re now leveraging our Donorfull learnings outside of the non-profit space.

If you would like to learn more about how a mobile microsite might help your business, contact Dirigo Design & Development at 207-347-7360. We build mobile website solutions from our home office in Portland, Maine. Dirigo’s dedicated team has a wide array of skills to offer, ranging from native apps (iPhone and Android) to mobile web sites and mobile e-commerce. We thrive at the intersection of computer programming/I.T. and marketing. Our aim is to propel your business to new heights.

Principal Author: David Addison
Date of Publication: 06/14/2012
Last Updated: 12/31/2013


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