I think it’s safe to say that mobile is now a mainstream marketing channel. We’ve known it to be so for some time. However, 2012 has seen massive growth is mobile usage, specifically with regards to smartphones.
According to Snaphop.com “in 2012, the U.S. saw a 55% increase in smartphone subscriptions to …98 million…, representing nearly 42% of all U.S. mobile users.” And these numbers continue to grow.
Our clients ask us how to effectively market to mobile devices. To them it is the wild west. In the same way a web site was new and scary 10 or 15 years ago, mobile is that scary beast now. Plus there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about what mobile marketing is.
This post aims to clear up some of this up for you. Specifically, I’ll talk about responsive design and mobile micro-sites. First, I think there is some confusion between the two, so let’s clarify that…
This refers to the coding changes on a website so that it renders differently on smaller screens. The web developer will modify the coding in the website and set additional breakpoints for the site. It works like this…
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- Breakpoints are the sizes at which the page layouts adjust to fit the viewing device, i.e. mobile device type, tablet, desktop. The developer will work with the client to determine the website breakpoints.
- Using the breakpoints, the website is modified to be responsive to the user’s viewing device (desktop, mobile, tablet) .
- The website presentation will change depending on the screen resolution detected; each resolution will scale back the graphics and adjust content so that each level drives traffic to priority conversion items. [VERY COOL]
One important thing to note here is that at all these different breakpoints, it is still the same website with the same content. The website and mobile site that are not separate. There is a responsive site that adjusts for different screen sizes, delivering the same content in different formats. This is not unlike the old days, a year or two ago, when sites adjusted for different browsers.
These are different. These are smaller mobile-only websites developed for your mobile audience. This could be a redirect when someone visits your site on a mobile device. Other times it could be a completely independent site that is linked from an email or ad campaign.
It works like this…
- Your website has a browser detect that knows if it’s being viewed on a mobile device. If it detects a mobile browser it will call up a sub-domain like m.yourwebsite.com. This mobile micro-site is a scaled back version of the regular site with a link to the full site (which is responsive, more on this in a minute).
- Or maybe you have an ad in a magazine that has a QR Code on it. Someone scans this QR Code and they are taken to a mobile micro-site that contains content that is specific to the ad.
When working with a mobile audience, it is usually a good idea to be very direct. These micro-sites can be a great way to cut through the noise and get the best possible reactions with mobile marketing campaigns.
Responsive or Micro-site – Which is Best???
Here’s the thing – this isn’t an either/or deal. More often than not you will need both.
You need responsive for anyone trying to visit your full website from a mobile device. Why? Have you ever tried to navigate through a full sized website on a tiny mobile screen? It’s frustrating to say the least.
And you’ll need to set up some mobile landing pages that are targeted to specific campaigns. Why? If you run an ad targeted to mobile users, do you want them to go to your homepage and then have to figure out the next step?
No, you want to send them to a targeted landing page that carries the theme of the ad, above the fold. The call to action on the landing page will then be expected and acting on it will seem like an obvious next step.
Remember, and we say this over and over again because it is important, focus on the user. What does your audience want? And what do you want them to do? Where the answers to these two questions converge is what your mobile strategy needs to be. These are your mobile marketing priorities.
Once you’ve identified the priorities of your mobile marketing strategy, then…
- Meet with your developer and discuss how to implement them.
- It’s your job to understand the goals.
- It’s your developer’s job to work with you to achieve those goals.
When thinking about mobile marketing, it’s not about whether responsive or mobile micro-sites are the best choice, it is about how to achieve your conversion goals. And you do this by knowing the options and by knowing your target audience.
What do you think?
When does a responsive design make sense? How about a mobile micro-site? How about both? I would love to hear how these are working or not working for you.