The introduction to Google’s new mobile-focused content piece, The Busy Executive’s Guide for Winning with Mobile, (AKA the Mobile Playbook) begins with the header “Mobile Changes Everything,” and ends with this line: “At Google, we believe that your success in mobile will determine the future of your business.”

How’s that for direct?

Never mind that Google stands to make a lot of money in mobile ad revenue, or that Google’s Android is one of the most-widely used mobile platforms on earth. It’s become almost a given that anything Google puts out will have an element of self-promotion (And why not? This is a capitalist economy, after all).

Setting this fact aside, it is usually a really good idea to pay attention to anything Google has to say, especially if the tech giant goes the length of creating a content piece to elaborate on it.

BOOK REPORT

Recognizing that many business executives don’t have enough time in the day to sift through a full-length content piece, I’ve created this abridged “book report” on Google’s Mobile Playbook, or as I call it, “The busy BUSY Executive’s Guide for Winning with Mobile.”

Let’s Begin…

***5 Crucial Mobile Questions every business executive should be asking today:

I. How Does Mobile Change Our Value Proposition?

Consumers can now use smart-phones and tablets to interact with businesses 24/7, from anywhere-at home, at work, on a bus. It’s critical that your business define its value proposition through a mobile lens by determining exactly how your target audience wants to engage with your brand on mobile.

  • Think Local-Mobile:
    • 95% of mobile users have searched for local info
    • 61% called a business after searching
    • 59% visited in person
    • 90% of these users acted within 24 hours
    • In-Store Experience: a new era of price transparency
      • 45% of consumers use smartphones for in-store product research and browsing
      • 53% of men use smartphones in-store to check prices out at other stores, whereas only 38% of women do the same
      • 39% of walk-outs (customers leaving without buying) were influenced by smartphone usage

What can your business do?

  • Improve the in-store experience (expert service, encourage same-day pickup of big ticket items)
  • Create and stock unique products (makes apples-to-apples comparison irrelevant)
  • Embrace mobile usage within your store
    • Offer free wifi…drive mobile users to website to place orders; select in-store pickup
    • Integrate QR codes with in-store products offering important info (silent salespeople)   

II. How Does Mobile Impact our Digital Destinations?

“Your #1 priority is to create a mobile website”

In the Playbook, Google really emphasizes the importance of having a mobile-optimized website to engage mobile customers.

  • 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site
  • 40% have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience

A mobile-optimized website makes it easier for prospects and customers to connect with you via their smartphones and tablets. As an example of this, Google highlights 1-800-Flowers.com, an e-retailer that became one of the first to jump into mobile six years ago with an optimized website and apps across multiple mobile platforms:

1-800 Flowers.com worked with mobile vendor Moovweb to launch an enhanced smartphone-optimized site whose key features include “ Find a Gift Fast,” which connects shoppers with local flower arrangements, deep linking functionality to ensure that searches land on the mobile site, and an enhanced calendar to help users figure out shipping and other costs. What was the impact? Increased conversions, and time spent on-site up 25% from the original mobile site.

As a complement to a mobile-optimized site, mobile apps can make it easy for your customers to interact with your brand. As cited in the Playbook, 91% of companies featured in Interbrand’s 2011 Best Global Brands have a presence in at least one of the major app stores – a figure that’s up 51% from 18 months ago.

In order to be effective, mobile apps should offer users value, either by way of entertainment, utility, or both. Before embarking upon a mobile app project, make sure you have a clear reason for building it (i.e. to engender loyalty, introduce new functionality, etc).

Once you’ve developed the next killer app, you need to promote it through your best marketing channels.

  • Provide mobile site links on your website, social media, email campaigns, online newsletters
  • Use mobile search ads to direct users to your app in the app marketplace

III. Is Our Organization Adapting to Mobile?

This section of the Playbook offers up some detailed questions you can ask on an organizational level regarding your company’s adaptation (or lack thereof) to mobile. The key takeaway here is the idea of assigning a “mobile champion” in your company, and empowering that person with a “cross-functional” task force to implement mobile-friendly practice wherever relevant. Apparently Google chairman Eric Schmidt has a “Mobile First” principle, whereupon he calls on every team, from ads to maps to Doubleclick to YouTube, to include mobile in their product and business plans.

This mobile task force should work to benchmark the mobile efforts of your competition, set a mobile budget, and try to understand how your customers use mobile by implementing focus groups and surveys.

IV. How Should Our Marketing Adapt to Mobile?

The Playbook goes on to detail exactly how your company’s marketing can adapt to mobile. As if to underscore the importance of mobile, Google points out that mobile search queries have grown 5X in the past two years.

When thinking about your brand’s approach to mobile marketing, you should focus on one overarching question:

What is the experience like for a consumer trying to find you and connect with you?

First, some general mobile marketing tips:

  • Try to separate mobile-specific ads from desktop search campaigns so you can accurately test, measure and develop messaging that works best in this new format
  • Create geo-local specific ads based on how close the consumer is to your business, your competitors or relevant locations like airports and malls
  • Layer your search ads with location extensions; these are additional links that appear in the ad that show your business’s location and phone number
  • Make sure your mobile marketing aims align with your overall marketing aims

Then a specific question: Who do you want to reach?

  • How can you most effectively reach them?
  • What actions do you want them to take?
  • How can you measure these actions?
  • Are you after broad reach or just buzz?

Finally, you need to examine your marketing initiatives through a mobile lens:

Email – Up to 30% of email opens come from mobile

  • Think carefully about mobile layout (longer rather than wider)
  • Review your calls-to-action and links to make sure they are mobile-optimized

Social Media – Don’t just think social, think social mobile

  • More than half of mobile social networkers access social content from their mobile device

Coupons and Promotions – Whether you create a scan-able coupon or a code that can be keyed into the register, be sure to track mobile separately

  • Add a QR code to print pieces to give your static ads mobile conversion power

V. How Can We Connect with our Tablet Audience?

“By 2014, 208 million tablets will be sold worldwide, and 72% of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis, making the audience very desirable.”

In this final section, the Playbook essentially regurgitates information already covered in the last section, reminding you to check out your tablet consumers’ experience with your brand, build unique tablet experiences, and tweak your search campaigns for tablet users.

One area Google does stress specifically for tablets is the use of rich interactive media such as HTML5 to show off products, which only makes sense given their larger screens.

Just as it started, Google’s Mobile Playbook ends in a flourish:

“At Google, we believe that mobile represents a sociological shift with how users relate with both the digital and physical world. Businesses that understand this will win.”

For whatever it is worth, I tend to agree with the gang from Mountain View on this one.