search and mobile

Any small business marketer whose ad campaigns ignore mobile (and multi-device integrated marketing strategies) does so at their peril. Why? That’s simple: take the increasing numbers of smartphones (and tablets) out there and multiply that times the willingness of people to use mobile to buy. Add to that Google’s move to make mobile an integral part of all AdWords campaigns, and it’s pretty clear. Marketers focusing on multi-device strategies as well as cross-device functionality for their campaigns are going to win. You know why? Customers want to buy (or they want information) and they want that process to be fast, easy and seamless. These kinds of campaigns deliver just that.

A recent study from eMarketer showed that while mobile growth is slowing, new users across the developing world will continue to drive increases. This is particularly so in the smartphone market, with mobile users rapidly switching to smartphones as networks advance and devices become more affordable. The study shows that, having passed the 1 billion mark in 2012, the total number of smartphone users is estimated to top 1.75 billion across the world this year. By 2017 it’s estimated that some 4.55 billion people will be mobile phone users with around 50% of them using smartphones compared to just two thirds in 2013.

Nearly half of all mobile users are expected to go online via mobile at least once a month this year, a figure that equates to some 2.23 billion people worldwide. In my world, once a month is a massive understatement – it’s more like once an hour, or less. What about you?

Mobile Penetration and Paid Search

The continuing adoption of smartphones is likely to fuel this further with eMarketer estimating 90% of Internet users will access the Internet by mobile at least once a month by 2017. In all honesty, I’m surprised that isn’t already happening, aren’t you? That’s some potential audience to ignore if you’re either not doing mobile search campaigns at all or if you’re not designing for mobile first as you develop your campaigns.

Let’s take a look now at what your competition might be doing to access this rapidly growing potential customer base. According to the 2013 Global Online Retail Seasonal Shopping Report by Kenshoo, as reported in Search Engine Watch, the last shopping season saw a 34% year-on-year increase in paid search spend by marketers, which resulted in a 12.8 % increase in their CTR and a reported 19% increase in revenues. U.S. marketers fared even better with an increase spend of 48.1%, resulting a 14.1% increase in CTR and revenues for the shopping season reaching a record high, up 37% from the previous year.

The report also showed that paid search marketers allocated an increased amount of their budgets to mobile devices at 34.4% of the total, an increase of 66.7% over 2012. The results are clear when you look at the share of paid search revenues by device, where both phone and tablet more than doubled their share over the previous year. Desktop revenue still reigns at 77%, however it looks like this proportion could be rapidly reducing in years to come. Also, it shows the importance of integrating multi-channel strategies into your overall marketing efforts. It’s important to note when thinking about these things that it’s as important for small and midsize businesses as it is for large ones. To not participate is to effectively take yourself out of the game.

What does that mean for the future? I’m glad you asked. Another report, this time from Marin Software as reported in Search Engine Land, projected that by the end of 2015, mobile devices will account for half of all paid search clicks in the United States. Half of all paid search clicks. Those are some serious numbers. That compares with 21.8% at the beginning of 2013 and 34.2 percent at the end of 2013. A stratospheric move towards mobile by any measure!

Mobile Websites: From Luxury to Necessity

If you haven’t already realized it and as the data above indicates, it’s time to embrace the world of mobile and the cross device campaign. And it makes no difference whether you’re operating in the B2B or B2C arena, a mobile friendly website is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Equally important is user experience. Marketers need to think about the customer experience not only as it relates to their corporate websites, but also as it relates to mobile ad campaigns. Simple things like having prominent contact details, click-to-call functionality, live chat, buttons that are easily navigable, maps, etc., are of vital importance when dealing with a customer that’s always on the move, impatient and perpetually connected.

Consumers appear to be ever more willing to engage with brands with paid search via their mobile devices and the reason is pretty simple: we want what we want when we want it. Brands and marketers need to understand that and make it easy for people to get the information they seek when they want it, as well as to hit the “buy” button and experience an easy, efficient path to purchase.

What To Do About Mobile Today

It’s important to remember here that people typically find products or services they want to buy by one of two ways: by searching for them or by asking their friends for recommendations. That’s why paid search for mobile devices is so important – devices are increasingly what prospects are using to find you and your business. If you’re not using paid search to ensure that your results are being served up to them when they’re looking, it’s a little bit like having an unlisted phone number.

What about you? Has your business marketing strategy not only taken mobile into consideration but put it at the very top of your to-do list? If not, please do two things right now: pull out your phone and access your website. What does it look like? Look through the eyes of your prospective customers and be honest with yourself. Then, take a look at your Google Analytics report for the last six months or so. Note the traffic coming to your site from mobile devices and whether or not that number has increased month-over-month. I’m betting it has and that it will continue to rise. If that’s the case, and if you’re not serving them up a great mobile experience via your website and/or through your online shopping experience (or information-gathering experience) how long do you think they’ll hang around?