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Why the microsite is an excellent app alternative

Mobile apps or microsites? What is the best option for you?

Mobile apps are a very interesting option for marketers and sometimes we think they are a necessity.

Here are the cases when apps offer true value for your customers - and for you.
The app:
offers extremely high utility
has opportunities for high engagement
would offer unique conversion opportunities

Let's talk about 'extremely high utility'.

There are many valuable apps out there that most of us couldn’t imagine living without, and some apps have proved to be incredible marketing tools that build deep connections between a company and its target audience.

However, this can only occur when you have something practical to offer and something that provides a solution to a common problem.

A case where you would want to use an app is if our clients have a regular need to interact with your services from a mobile device, as in the case of e-banking or other transactional apps.

A case where you would not use an app is to distribute your latest brochures or newsletters. Be honest - marketing collateral does not fall into the category of 'extremely high utility'. After the second time a user needs to update your marketing collateral app, it is likely to be sent to the dustbin.

Apps built for marketing and promotion purposes rarely pan out well. More often than not, apps are uninstalled within a short period after installation. In fact, already in 2013 study by Digital Trends found that only 16 percent of people will try out an app more than twice, and anywhere from 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by users.

Here is when you really want to use apps rather than web technology:
  • Your clients have a regular need to interact with your services from a mobile device, as in the case of e-banking or other transactional apps.
  • You need to offer an extremely high level of interactivity. For example, you want to create a game with fast animation and detailed graphics.
  • You need to offer native functionality. If the success of your campaign hinges around the utilization of a feature that is not yet accessible from HTML, then an app is your only solution.



The Case for Mobile Apps

As always, there are exceptions. The most notable exception to the above case is Red Bull.

The Red Bull magazine app saw enormous success and was hence showcased by many as the lighting example to follow.

We think it is true - it theoretically should be possible to replicate the success of the Red Bull app.

Be sure to:
- create extra-ordinarily great content
- set up a dedicated team as you would to create any other magazine
- get ready to promote the hell out of it

Red Bull was launched a while back. Since then competition in content marketing and the availability of free content has not gone down by any means. Most success stories in content marketing and/or newsletters have been produced on easy-to-access, no install required, web technology...

Comparing Maintenance and Development Costs

In addition to low performing accessibility, your users also have to take action to maintain and upgrade your mobile app. Unless your app is a major hit (which is no guarantee), they aren’t likely to jump to take this step — or worse, they may delete your app to avoid it altogether. Not to mention, the process of getting your app approved at the app store can be a long and tiring one.

Aside from user maintenance, your mobile app requires a higher development and maintenance cost on your end than a microsite would. A November 2014 Kinvey report based on a survey of CIOs and Mobile Leaders found that mobile app development is “costly, slow and frustrating.” According to this survey:

56 percent of mobile leaders surveyed say it takes from 7 months to more than one year to build one app, and 18 percent say they spend from $500,000 to over $1,000,000 per app, with an average of $270,000 per app (Kinvey). 

In addition, users of different mobile devices may use different versions of the app, making it difficult to maintain and offer user support.

The notable exception

Source : Kinvey.com

Conclusion: App or Web?

If your goal is to generate conversions and leads, an app could maybe work for you. However, there are many serious roadblocks to consider when taking this route. For instance, the user has to go to an online store, search for the app, download it, and then install it. You are asking more of your user, whereas with a microsite, your content is accessible in a single click.

On the other hand, there is an easy way as well. Microsites can also be great lead generation and conversion tools, with the ability to embed subscription forms and fixed CTAs. The reason a mobile app works for Red Bull is because it has established itself as a media company, creating many, many ways for its fans to engage — a mobile app is just one of those ways. And if a mobile app does make sense for your business, make sure you have a presence in other areas as well.
Let's talk mobile apps. Now we know you are a savvy bunch, but to clear any potential confusion, let's quickly define the term.

A mobile app, or native app, is an application that is downloaded and installed on a mobile device.

To get a mobile app, users must go to an app store (e.g., iTunes, Google Play), search, and install. You’ve probably done this dozens of times. But have you ever thought about how many apps you’ve uninstalled, because they fell short of expectations or for some other reason. Take a second to think about it. You've probably uninstalled a good portion of them, maybe even the majority of them.
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