Let’s quickly review our mobile discussion from that article. At this point, mobile and responsive websites should be a no brainer. For the past few years, we’ve been sprinting towards mobile dominating desktop, and we’ve passed it. Mobile has officially passed desktop browsing. What does that mean in the broader context for your 2016 marketing strategy? In 2016, a mobile-optimized website should be a default, but not a placeholder for an app. An app can (read: should) do everything your website can do. Not to mention an app is both touch screen (read: less barriers to clicks) and is an advertisement/reminder of your product that goes with your user everywhere they go.
Mobile usage in the purchasing process, from research to checkout, is on an upward trend that is not slowing down anytime soon. A few stats to back that up?
90% of smartphone shoppers use their phone for pre-purchasing activities
86% of time is spent on apps vs. 14% on the mobile web
25% of search queries are now on mobile
Whether you’re working on your app, planning a re-vamp, or already have a fantastic one in place, there’s one thing we recommend testing and optimizing above all else - and that’s speed. Load speed, checkout speed, and how quickly your users can find relevant info. Recent research has found that a staggering 29% of mobile users will immediatelyswitch to another app or website if they are experiencing slowness, or can’t find what they need - quickly.
We’ve all been there. Looking up that great new restaurant but finding the mobile website too slow? Jump to Yelp. Want to make a res. at said restaurant but reservation information isn’t easily accessible, jump to opentable. Opentable isn’t showing available reservation for the time you want - back to Yelp for the phone number to give them a call.
So, how can we optimize our websites or applications to keep as many users inside your brands as possible? Here are a few tips:
Be there in micro moments - especially when it comes to mobile. Below is a great infographic from Forrester to give you a quick snapshot of how to design micro moments. We’ll cover this more in depth in next week’s article.
Make sure your mobile website is super simple, responsive, with an easy and streamlined checkout process.
Your load time needs to be 3 seconds - or less.
Know what your customers are searching for and optimize your app and website to display calls to action for those specific needs first.
Less is more. Less clicks, less steps. Eliminate any unnecessary actions, assets, or distractions that get in the way of people performing the action you need them to take.
Assuming recent trends continue, by 2019 we should expect to see nearly 75% of digital ad spending spent on mobile. Why? While it’s more complex than just a few statistics, the following make a strong case. In 2015, marketers began to wise up to the fact that people are spending more time on mobile phones than on their laptops/desktops. So, they matched eyeballs for marketing dollars, and, they did this even though mobile conversions are still lower than other devices.
So - in essence, this is a cautionary tale.
Here are some statistics to demonstrate why you need to pay attention to this trend right now.
If you haven’t already, you need to start (read: continue - because at this rate of change, it will be hard to play catch up) optimizing your marketing plan for mobile.
In 2014, a report by KPCB showed that marketers were not spending ad dollars relative to the amount of time spent on mobile. In other words - mobile phones (tied for second place with the internet/desktop), were where people spent most of their screen time (mobile has since surpassed internet/desktop). And yet, advertisers were not spending money to market there.
It is important not to overlook this very important fact. That this surge of mobile activity could be largely in part due to the fact that 86% of time spent on mobile - is time spent in mobile apps.
Enter 2015 - looks like a very different story. According to a 2015 study by eMarketer, marketers got the hint. The percentage of digital mobile as spending skyrocketed to 49%, nearly mirroring people’s behaviors. The study also made some future projections - that by 2019 nearly 75% of ad budgets will be spent on mobile.
So - these marketers are running after the trend, reactively marketing and playing catch up with buyers behavioral changes. Still, I’d say they caught up pretty quickly.
So if everyone’s doing it, should you be?
Here is one big reason you don’t need to sound the alarm right away.
One, conversions rates on mobile devices are still relatively lower than on desktop and tablets. According to this 2014 Q4 report from monetate desktop, tablets, and Kindle Fire conversions outpace others at about 3% while smartphones and iphones converted at .8% and .85% respectively.
Here monetate updated this data showing conversion rates by platform further into the future, through Q3 2015. It looks like, while iPhone conversions are still converting a lower rates, conversion rates across desktop, tablets and iphones are coming closer and closer together.
(Interesting aside to note iphone conversions increasing at a much faster rate than other smartphones - something to keep in mind when digging deeper into your mobile plan)
So - what have we learned?
People are spending more and more time on mobile (duh!), marketers are catching up and spending money to get these people’s attention, but conversion rates on mobile still have a little catching up to do.
Conversion rates on tablets, desktop and mobile are trending to cross paths. Trends point to conversions on mobile behaving in the same way most mobile trends have gone … up.
Importantly - of all the time spent on mobile devices, most of this time is spent in mobile applications. So, if you’re poised to do just one thing this quarter (or year, if you’re a small business with limited budget) in regards to your mobile plans - focus on the app.
If you don’t have the in house resources, check out this post on the 16 best app tools to make your own app - without a bit of code!
Tis’ the season for lists! Christmas lists, lengthy grocery lists for holiday gatherings, itineraries for holiday travel. If you’re a marketer, surely you’re poised for the onslaught of ‘2016 trends to watch,’ lists, popping up all over our favorite blogs, periodicals, and websites; Top digital marketing trends to watch in 2016, 5 Marketing tactics that will make or break your company in 2016, 7 Digital marketing tactics you need to master in 2016. So, to ease your burden, we’ve read most of them for you - and prepared a snap-shot of the most popular from the list of lists. Here are the Top 10 digital trends and tactics to plan for in 2016.
1) Social Media - From Ugly Duckling to Swan
With a number of alliances between Google and big social media players (read: Facebook and Twitter) it’s no wonder marketers are starting to head the social call. The product of these marriages will increase the importance of a company's social media presence. Bloomberg was quoted saying, “[tweets] will start to be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they are posted.” It doesn’t seem likely that Google will slow down forging more partnerships with leading social platforms. The result? Allowing social results to influence search engine results!
Next, if you haven’t experienced the upgraded targeting ad features on Facebook, take the time to get acquainted now. The retargeting and integrations within Facebook Ad’s manager are powerful data driven features that have marketers excited. Serve ads based on retargeting, custom lists, actions, behaviors, page visits ... the list goes on.
Lastly, social media has become one of the number one place customers go to thank (or complain). The highly transparent and public nature of social media makes users feel like they’ve ‘cut to the front of the line’. If you’re not hearing their complaints (or accolades) and acting accordingly, you can be certain other people are.
So what should you do? Tweet. Be active, transparent, human and timely across social channels. Allow people to know what you’re up to - build brand trust and intrigue. Invest in your Facebook content and strategies, and get social listening tools so your customer service team can be a part of (and control of) the ‘social goings on’ of your company.
2) Now You See It, Now You Don’t - The Rise of Ephemeral Marketing
Sometimes termed ‘temporary social media’ - Snapchat is leading the way in ephemeral marketing. Snapchat is useful for generating excitement around a new product or feature, or driving specific marketing actions, such as promos or discounts. Many companies (Food Network, Vice, BuzzFeed, Mashable, Cosmo, ESPN, to name a few) are capitalizing on the younger generation, aka millennials, who flock to Snapchat where they can consume content that feels ‘straight to the point’ and, where they can access ‘limited access content’, that is content with an expiration date - read as: exclusive.
Think content is only used to strengthen SERs? While that is absolutely one of the key reasons you should be creating regular, original, relevant, brand enhancing and engaging quality content, check out these statistics that tell a compelling story about the other important roles content plays.
90% of customers find custom content useful while 78% believe that companies with custom content are interested in building positive relationships
Content marketing costs less than traditional marketing, 62% less per lead, to be exact
Content builds brand trust and loyalty, and helps define you as an expert in your field. If you don’t yet have brand advocates upping your credibility, you’ll have to be the one to do that - and one of the best ways you can accomplish this is with content. In 2016, if you don’t have the budget or resources to create a robust brand advocacy strategy, think about getting influencers on board to help tell your story. It comes down to this, if you’re not doing it, your competitors are, and as content and consumption becomes a larger part of the buyer's journey, if you’re not making noise with your content, you’re getting drowned out by the noise of others.
Location based marketing is particularly important if your company regularly hosts events. Through the use of fancy tech (Radio Frequency Identification - RFID) marketers can utilize wearables, applications, or even cards with a unique RFID identifier, to amplify social sharing by creating a seamless and integrated consumption and sharing experience.
Although a lot of the freshest and coolest location based marketing is geared towards events, location based marketing isn’t just for event marketers. Other location based services and technologies have been created to locate nearby devices that can detect prospects at the time of engagement with a particular product or retail establishment.
Minority Report? Anyone?
5) Relationship Marketing
This boils down to creating loyalists (brand advocates) instead of focusing on quick, short-term sales and aquisition. The focus is on long lasting customer relationships. Those companies that do this well are the envy of many, having created an ecosystem where customers are creating brand awareness that feels organic, authentic and credible.
Coca-Cola kills it when it comes to relationship marketing. This is one of my favorites (of hundreds) of relationship campaigns they’ve run all over the world.
Coca-Cola caps as currency - genius. Not to mention, this one’s a real tear jerker.
Marketing automation has become increasingly necessary as more and more companies are understanding the importance of content and leveraging content as a leading tactic for led gen. Automation tools make it easier to manage everything from blogging to the customer/prospect lifecycle. Curious about what tools are out there? Check out this list of The Top 50 Marketing Automation Tools and Apps.
Recommended Class: Marketing Automation Best Practices for Success by Carlos Hidalgo
7) Virtual Reality
Virtual reality will emerge, and has the potential to change the way we tell stories. Obviously we expect 3D to take off first in the game industry, however, the benefits this tech add to the customer journey are intriguing. Imagine taking your next car out for a test drive or taking a tour of a potential vacation home, without leaving the comfort of your own living room? As personalization continues to be top priority, savvy marketers will find ways to bring their products and stories to life. Whether this will be a massive game changer remains to be seen, but with billions of dollars of funding around, it surely will be entertaining to watch it all unfold.
8) Wearables and the Internet of Things
What has felt like a slow and steady burn for wearable tech popularity in 2015, will likely continue into 2016. What this means for marketers is even more opportunity for targeted marketing, data and behavior driven marketing. It also means you may be making marketing choices based on the day-to-day behaviors of your potential consumers. Wearables will also change the way people share content, so the whole social landscape will shift accordingly, plus more wearable tech means less dependence on RFID’s or ibeacons for geo-location marketing efforts.
9) Video or Bust
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? The number of searches on YouTube tops Bing, Y!, Ask.com, and AOL combined. YouTube also boasts an audience reach of more US adults ages 18-34 than any other cable network. Makes you squirm a little thinking about all the search you’re missing out on - doesn’t it? Live streaming takes video to a new level entirely. With ephemeral marketing gaining popularity, anyone with a smartphone can capture ‘exclusive’ content. In 2016 make sure you’re exploring snapchat, periscope, and Facebook and seeing where you can incorporate live streaming into your marketing strategies as well as planning for a YouTube presence if you don’t already have one. Check out this article for examples of these 8 brands live stream video for innovative marketing.
10) Optimized for Mobile
At this point, mobile and responsive websites should be a no brainer. For the past few years, we’ve been sprinting towards mobile dominating desktop, and we’ve passed it. Mobile has officially passed desktop browsing. What does this mean for you? In 2016, a mobile-optimized site will be an acceptable placeholder for an app, but not for long. An app can (read: should) do everything your website can do, just in a more accessible, intuitive and convenient way. Not to mention, an app is both touch screen (read: less barriers to clicks) and is a advertisement/reminder of your product that goes with your user everywhere they go. Talk about location based marketing 😉 2016 is the year to create a plan and market strategy for your app, get familiar with the latest app indexing best practices, and get an app to market, that for all intents and purposes, could replace your website.
Which trends and strategies do you think will dominate 2016? We’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to share!
Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us in no time and every self-respecting business will be sending out letters, greeting cards, emails or logo-stamped gifts. Direct marketing is one of the most fascinating branches of marketing. From the days of yore, it has made people talk, share and take action. With so many messages thrown at people throughout the day, direct marketing provides one of the least risky – and anticipated and accepted, if a bit interruptive – ways to connect with customers. I love creative mailers that come through my door. Some are thoughtful, some are clever, and some are downright cheeky. However, one common point amongst all these mailers is they are all prohibitively expensive for small businesses.
This is where small budget ideas come in. These ideas make it possible for small businesses to connect with their customers in surprisingly affordable and effective ways.
Vine set the precedent in making hastily-shot amateur videos all the rage. With Instagram and Periscope only confirming that video-clip marketing is here to stay, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to post a series of Vines leading up to Christmas and New Year. All you have to do is grab your smartphone and look around for cute and quirky opportunities to make a video.
Check out this cute and funny Vine made with zero dollars’ investment:
Embed Vine: https://vine.co/v/OgIwBEnLKPv
Take a look at the other videos on Christmas Channel – the channel that hosts the above video for more amazing ideas.
Share your Vines on other social platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook.
Embed links to your Vines on product pages on your website, blog posts, and email.
Make a series of Vines on a particular theme. For instance, think Harvey Nichols’ famous “I Spent it On Myself” commercial, break the idea into smaller videos – and you have a series!
Scour the app store for video editing apps that come with tons of effects to make your videos funny, creative and cool. Use these liberally.
Inboxes are invariably flooded with the same old “formulaically creative” emails during holiday times. So the chances of your email being read are infinitely small.
But with a little proactive and out-of-the-box (we desperately need a more out-of-the-box word for out-of-the-box) thinking, you can ensure your holiday emails are read.
First things first – stop being stingy when it comes to photos. Say goodbye to the ubiquitous boring vector backgrounds and illustrations, and invest in high quality pictures; or better yet, hire a good photographer. Yes, this still counts as “small-budget.” You can borrow creative “ideas” instead of “images” – Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration.
If you are short on time, try online email creators. They are intuitive and easy to use, and you are done in minutes. Plus they come with a lot of beautiful, seasonal templates and forms, so you can create highly engaging emails with designer-like finesse. Most likely, your email marketing suite has such features too.
Don’t leave it for too late – start emailing at least weeks in advance.
Include creatively modified photos of your staff for more personalized email greetings. Other than being great for employees’ morale, it also lends a face and identity to your company.
Turn the banners on your homepage and category pages into online billboards. The banner or slider on your homepage is the first thing your visitors notice, so it makes sense to create one specifically for holiday season. Personalized card and gift item retailer FunkyPigeon.com is known for putting out banners with timely messages relevant to upcoming events, days or seasons.
More effective than just banners are entire landing pages with customized elements, each of which appeals to customers’ holiday moods. You can do this (without much coding) using DIY ecommerce platforms such as Spaces, which allows you to create product pages or even single-page websites with mobile-optimized, easy-to-A/B-test banners that give you more room for creativity while showcasing your merchandise.
If all your DIY or in-house efforts fail, you can always fall back on community-powered design marketplaces like 99Designs to not only get yourself a customized banner but pick and choose from dozens of entries submitted by the community.
In perfecting your means, don’t forget your message. Content marketing still remains the #1 small-budget marketing medium. Done right on your email and social media, and especially on your blog, content allows you to drive traffic to your business.
X Things You Can Fill in That Dog Christmas Stocking (for a pet food company)
X Original Setups to Capture Awesome Christmas Selfies (for a camera or smartphone company)
Why Santa Is Going To Pay Us an Extended Visit This Year (for anyone to share their annual success stories)
Send teasers through emails and share them on social networks from at least a month before, while there is still ample chance for them to be read.
Though content and email marketing have proven to be highly effective ways of marketing, it is always a good idea to send out physical gifts during holidays.
But you need to think beyond personalized pens to logo-engraved mugs – there never seems to be a shortfall of such boring “corporate” gifts.
And what’s more, these gifts are just that – gifts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take on the festivities with more smart (read eco-friendly) and creative ideas for direct marketing (without the overwhelming expenses, of course)?
So here’s a thoughtful gift idea for which clients and customers will remember you for a long time:
Costing just around $2, plantable paper can make awesome gifts to help your customers stay focused on their goals. Simply send a letter with the plantable or seed paper (with your own custom messages such as “Hope our association grows stronger by the day!”) that explains the concept of your gift and how to use it, and you are done!
Plantable papers are available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get hold of it.
The best part about such gifts is you can follow up with timely cross-sells or reports and cement your relationship in the process.
Over to You
The new truth of marketing is that no single channel is enough these days. You cannot say with conviction that you’ll be successful just by milking a channel you’re good at, whether it’s email, social or television ads. You need to create a multi-channel marketing mix with all the ingredients perfectly mixed together to create awesome holiday season campaigns.
With mega-sale days just round the corner, don’t waste much time – start experimenting with as many guerilla-budget campaigns as you can. Like, now!
Ad blocking is on the rise - in a monstrous way. According to The 2015 Ad Blocking Report produced in partnership by Adobe and PageFair, US ad blocking grew by 48% to reach 45 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015, and by 41% globally.
Ad blocking is a technology being employed by consumers to block ads before they are loaded by the web browser. The result is a quickly rendered page and a serene and uninterrupted consumption experience. Proponents of the technology advocate that it enables a more efficient customer experience, pushes marketers to target appropriately, and gives consumers the power they deserve when experiencing the web. In a cyber world saturated with irrelevance, it’s no wonder an overwhelming 73% of consumers are more likely to engage with ads when they are personally relevant.
Opponents, on the other hand, say that supporting ad blockers disrupts the very fabric of the web, a place where we can communicate - for free. Adoption of ad blockers may result in an internet that is less crowded by ads, but also in a cyberspace where only the largest publishers can pay for, and deliver ads uninterrupted, without user consent. Ads fuel a place in which high quality content produced by experts can be published free to the consumer. Without it, publishers are more likely to put their great content behind subscription walls. According to The Ad Blocking Report, $22 Billion dollars will be lost to online publishers in 2015.
While revenue loss will be devastating for publishers and consumers alike, it seems that the current “crisis” is an amalgamation of advertising practices gone stale, one’s that have been in need of serious disruption for some time. The ad status quo (serving as many ads as possible as often as possible to as many people as possible) isn’t acceptable any longer, and ad blocking is a tool that has given consumers a voice.
Speaking on consumer preferences, consumers tend to be more displeased when served ads on mobile that they haven’t subscribed to. The reasons for this are still unclear, but it’s safe to speculate that our mobile devices have far less real estate and therefore ads seem far more intrusive. It’s interesting to note that while 38% of all web browsing happens on mobile, that only a very small percentage of people are using ad blockers on their mobile devices. However, it’s unlikely for those stats to stay the same. More likely, ad blocking on mobile will become mainstream as Apple has recently allowed iOs9 developers to make apps with ad blocking software.
In order to preserve the richness of the web, this trend must be seen as an opportunity for advertisers to reorganize their thinking and embrace targeting technology they’ve been slow to adopt.
We all know that content is king, where search engines and social media platforms rule the digital landscape. Brands like Red Bull and GoPro have embraced the concept of being publishers, and sales have followed. While it is easy and comfortable to predict content creation, optimization and syndication will continue to be a focus for business owners and marketers in 2015 and beyond, there is a bigger opportunity looming.
The Mobile Opportunity
I believe smart companies and marketers will focus on developing compelling content designed specifically for mobile audiences. In 2014, U.S. adults spent 23% more time on mobile during an average day than in 2013, according to eMarketer. Furthermore, 79% have their smartphones with them a whopping 22 hours per day. According to a recent Harris Poll, 40% of purchases are directly influenced by smart phones.
Make Content for Mobile Users
So what are your plans for mobilizing your content strategy for that growing part of your audience moving to mobile? Content isn’t just about a blog and smart copy – consider the power of video, podcasts and images, beyond the written word. Multimedia is infinitely more engaging and shareable (and thus has a higher probability of going viral).
Engage your target audiences to understand what they want and need, and rethink your content strategy to give it to them. Talk with your sales and customer service team for additional insights into trends. Evaluate the overall marketplace and provide content your competitors are not.
2015 will be a big year for mobile content, and it’s likely that 2016 will only build on that trend. Don’t be left behind. Start planning your content strategies today and be prepared for a very engaged group of mobile customers and constituents. Visit Anvil's Resources section for insights and inspiration.
For decades, consumers roaming grocery store aisles had to talk to store employees to find the products they needed; grocers simply didn’t have the means to communicate with shoppers in real time — until now.
With the rise of smartphones, mobile apps, and location-based technology, shoppers can open a grocer’s app to access shopping lists and receive relevant content on the spot. This trend will only accelerate in the future.
According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of Americans own a smartphone. And Forrester Research predicts that 42 percent of the world’s population will own a smartphone by the end of the year, a phenomenon it calls “The Mobile Mind Shift.”
Today’s consumers possess a new level of mobile sophistication, and by making the app experience more individualized, digital marketers can better connect with these savvy shoppers.
The mobile revolution has created the potential for a more efficient and pleasant customer experience not only in grocery stores, but also in many other settings. But it’s up to digital marketers to meet consumers’ rising expectations.
Feed the Need for Constant Connection
As consumers increasingly rely on mobile devices, they expect relevant, timely content served up when and where they want it. To stay relevant, marketers must meet these needs.
But before determining the when, where, and how for communicating your messaging, you have to clearly understand your customers and what they want. Truly individualized marketing practices vary based on your customers’ behaviors; your content should be more relevant today than it was even two days ago.
A successful strategy starts with using data to build robust customer profiles. To deliver a new level of personalization, start by collecting and analyzing data in these five areas:
First, try to gather as much user-generated information as possible. You can ask users for information when they download an app or sign up for an email list, for example. Consider asking for gender and age data initially, then seek out more detailed information later on.
In addition to basics such as age and gender, you should try to get lifestyle information, biographical details, and more. Use information from social media to complement your user profiles. Twitter and Facebook amass valuable user data, but you’ll need to get permission to use it. Once you get the green light, however, you’ll have access until it’s revoked.
2. In-App Behaviors
This information shows user behavior within your app or on external platforms. Gather data about app navigation, commonly used features, ignored features, and the whole user journey. In addition to documenting user behavior, make sure to track the frequency of these behaviors.
Knowing what a customer does while in your app can highlight areas where you can improve the experience and deliver more personalized features.
3. Contextual Research
Attaching a definitive “why” to contextual data is a complex task because these actions occur as a result of more psychological – and less empirical – motivators. Consider using customer surveys to pinpoint the motivation behind their behaviors. You can then match the “what” to the “why” to get a better picture of your customers. This understanding will enrich other data points by revealing the motivation behind them.
4. Real-Time and Historical Location Data
You can look to a number of sources for location information. Start with GPS and beacon technology. You can access this data in real time and analyze historical trends.
Next, look at correlations. Where did users access your app? What was the physical journey through your store? Do you notice any patterns in where they use the app and how often? You can get insights into purchasing habits and more from location data.
5. Time-Based Information
Find out the times and days that users activate your app. How frequently do they tend to open it? Do you spot a clear trend in the time of day they’re accessing the app? Perhaps that’s a good time to send push notifications to see whether they open them. Send the push at a time before a user typically opens the app, too, and compare the results.
A truly customized app experience spans every user touchpoint. Simply targeting push notifications won’t provide savvy consumers with the high-quality experience that will make interacting with your app more enjoyable. By focusing on the right data, you can start making informed, strategic decisions to individualize your entire mobile marketing experience.
We’ve been hearing it for years: if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you’re going to suffer across the board. Searchers will bounce right off your site if it doesn’t load quickly or format well on their device, you’ll lose sales if your site layout doesn’t make for easy browsing, and shopping carts will be abandoned left and right if the buying process isn’t designed for mobile screens. And that’s just for ecommerce. Even I have to admit that when I’m searching, I question any business that isn’t up to date on this front. It makes me worry about their other business practices!
But even if you’ve been able to overlook all the warnings about the necessity of mobile-friendliness so far, you can’t afford to any longer. Google is introducing a new algorithm that will slam sites that don’t work well on mobile devices – making it very hard, if not impossible, to be found on SERPs viewed on a device, unless you’ve optimized your site for easy mobile browsing.
Google is essentially throwing down the gauntlet, and sites that don’t rise to the challenge will be lost to the dregs of search engine results. And this isn’t just a problem for small business that haven’t been able to get going on mobile; recent studies, like this one by TechCrunch, indicate that nearly 45% of Fortune 500 companies are in trouble too.
How it Works
As you’re probably aware, Google looks at a ton of different factors when ranking sites for SERPs. Over the years, digital marketers, business owners and web designers have tried to roll with each new update to stay on top. Google’s major updates can really shake things up, but the general trend has always been to reward quality original content, user experience, and authority. Generally speaking, every update makes it trickier to fool the algorithms with black hat techniques, keyword stuffing, and other practices that prioritize search bots over real life users.
Google’s latest update – called Mobilegeddon if you have a flare for the dramatic – is rolling out now, with some sites already feeling the impact. In a Google+ hangout Friday morning, Google’s John Mueller said that the update is “already rolled out completely” in some data centers. If you haven’t been affected yet, it’s only a matter of time (and not much time). Search engine results for desktop and tablet browsing won’t be affected – just smartphones, which constitutes a huge amount of traffic these days.
What Google is Looking For
What does it mean to have a mobile-friendly site? You essentially have two options, and according to Google, one will not offer a ranking advantage over the other. The first is a separate mobile version of your site or page, and the second option is a website built with responsive design that responds to the device it’s viewed on. Both options will help you sail through this Google update, as long as you have some key elements.
Readable text (no zoom needed)
Links/buttons that are spaced out enough to be clickable without difficulty
Vertical scrolling as opposed to horizontal scrolling
Content or add-ons that won’t play or function on a mobile device (think Flash)
A design that scales to the screen to reduce zooming and scrolling
What You Can Do
For general update FAQ, as well as answers to some of your more technical questions, check out Google’s Webmaster Central blog on the topic. The best way to get started is to test your site for mobile friendliness. You can do this using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test here, or use your Webmaster Tools to access the Mobile Usability report. If you think your site is mobile friendly and it’s still getting a low score, you may have code or functionality that is blocking Google’s smartphone search bots from crawling your pages.
To learn more about adjusting your site to perform well in Google search results, check out this great class on optimizing your website from search expert Kent Lewis.
As mobile devices grow more and more ubiquitous every year, it makes sense that mobile would also be the way that many online shoppers expect to interact with your business. For the most part, businesses have jumped onboard with mobile-based sites or responsive design, which is great news for users (and if you haven’t – what are you even doing here? Get on that!). But there are still major differences between the most effective buying process for a mobile user, and the process for a shopper browsing on a desktop computer.
Recognizing the habits and idiosyncrasies of mobile users who choose to shop on their devices can go a long way towards tightening up your sales funnel and increasing conversions on mobile – assuming that you take the steps to address their needs, desires and frustrations. Here’s a look at some trends (and lessons) for those who are riding the mobile eCommerce wave as it continues to rise.
Huge Increases in Mobile Shopping and Browsing
eCommerce platform Shopify recently released an interactive report/infographic detailing their year in review. While Shopify is just one slice of the eCommerce pie, the trends they’ve seen are happening across the board on a grand scale. Shopify’s eCommerce shops saw huge growth in mobile visits, and mobile traffic finally surpassed desktop traffic for the first time ever in August 2014. A third of total Shopify orders were made from mobile devices, up 175% from 2012.
It’s big growth, and it’s not just in eCommerce land; Cisco’s annual report tells us that average smartphone usage increased 45% in 2014, with global mobile data traffic rising 69% overall. Basically the growth is twofold: more and more people are getting smartphones or mobile devices (nearly half a million added in 2014 alone), and then individual usage on those devices is increasing as well. Using your device for just about everything is easier and quicker now then ever before, mostly due to faster data speeds (thanks 4G!), better network coverage, and better browser functionality since mobile or responsive sites are essentially the norm now.
Mobile Buying Still Lags Behind
So with all those staggering statistics about mobile browsing, why aren’t most of our sales and conversions coming from mobile traffic? The answer seems to be that, even for those who often shop online, it’s more of a window-shopping spree than a buying spree. It’s common for users to browse and shop on their mobile devices, and then actually purchase from a computer. This isn’t news to me since I absolutely fall into that shopper category.
I’m the stereotypical “on-the-go” mobile shop browser, since I often shop on the bus home from work, in a cafe waiting for a meeting, etc. Because of this, I’m really unlikely to buy on my device unless it’s very, very easy and quick to do so. Amazon, for example, keeps my card on file so I don’t need to take out my credit card if I’m mobile-shopping at a coffee shop (over public wi-fi, I might add). Online shops that take PayPal are also a lot more likely to get a purchase from me because it’s convenient and quick.
But that’s just me – this article from ConversionXL has some great insights on what difficulties cause mobile users to abandon their carts before purchase. My MVP (Most Valuable Point) in the article? Because mobile sites are simpler and more pared-down, many users feel like they aren’t getting the whole picture on a product and can’t commit to buying; whether it’s more images, product specs, descriptive text or user reviews, they need to see more. ConversionXL suggests giving users the option (a simple link on the product page) to view the full desktop site instead, and I think that’s a smart and simple solution for users who need more to go on (I definitely fall into this category too!). Just make sure that link routes users to the desktop version of that product page – not your desktop homepage – or you’ll definitely lose them.
Reverse Show-rooming On the Rise
Show-rooming, if you’re not familiar with the term, is when shoppers come into a brick-and-mortar store to see or perhaps try on an item, but then use their devices to purchase online at a cheaper price. It was a big hazard for retailers losing out to discount eCommerce shops or Amazon-type marketplaces, but now the trend is toward the opposite practice: reverse show-rooming, when shoppers browse for and research products online, and then visit a store to purchase. A Harris poll reports that 69% of people reverse showroom now, whereas only 46% showroom.
The two major advantages of shopping at a retail location are the ability to try on/try out the item, and the ability to take it home immediately. For those who want that mobile conversion (instead of just browsing and researching) it can help to offer faster delivery, in-store pick ups, and free returns by mail or in-store. A discount coupon on your mobile site for first-time visitors wouldn’t go amiss either!
Boosting your mobile sales can be a tricky undertaking, but the trends are, after all, on your side. Users are largely becoming more comfortable browsing and buying on their mobile devices, so as long as you are smoothing the path toward a final purchase in every way you can, the only direction for sales to go is up!
Mobile is no longer the future of marketing – it’s the present. For marketers, mobile is the “last mile” of effectively connecting with audiences. Pew Research points out that nearly 60% of the U.S. adult population now owns a smartphone and almost half own a tablet. For many people, mobile content is their most common form of consumption. That doesn’t, however, mean that marketers are good at creating content that works well in the mobile environment.
We’re in the mode of creating large amounts of content. But we might be better off if we generated less and thought more about how to better extend it through the channels we use. One of those primary channels should be mobile. Here’s where to start your plan to make content work for the mobile environment:
1. Think before you shrink.
Look at your content through a mobile lens. Not everything will work at a small scale, and many things will work differently. Don’t just take other content and format it for a smaller screen. Start with the lowest common denominator of what people are looking for and how they’ll interact, and plan from there.
2. Know your audience’s mobile habits.
In order to know your customers’ habits, you have to know your customers’ needs, and how mobile fits into the bigger picture. Consider why and how your audience will interact with your mobile content. If they’re in the buying mode and looking for information, how do you answer their critical questions at each stage of the discovery and decision cycle? Or can you? What mobile device are they using? Think about the purpose of your content and how people engage with it on different mobile devices.
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all for the length of content on mobile devices. What works depends on what your audience needs – what are your industry, subject and context? Users will definitely engage with long-form content on a mobile device if it will help them solve a problem on the spot. Or if it’s more along the lines of pure education, does it make sense to break it up into smaller chunks? That may help busy people get “snacks” of content as they have smaller chunks of time here and there. Regardless of length, remember that quality matters most in helping boost your search results.
4. Hone in on design.
Visuals should be minimal yet still quick and easy to convey your message. There’s a lot of content formatted in columns on website and downloads that won’t make any sense for a mobile device. Make it easy for people to scan all of your content and read what matters most in a mobile moment. Don’t use long, detailed forms – they’re tedious and you’ll lose people when they want to engage the most. Make sure that your content is “tappable” and easy to share. When people search, they’ll choose another result if yours isn’t mobile friendly.
5. Understand conversion and measurement.
When people search for answers on their mobile devices, most are ready to take action. In fact, iAcquire notes that 70% of mobile searches lead to action on websites within one hour. For consumers, mobile is key to making a decision in the moment. On the other hand, no one’s going to buy a big-ticket B2B item on a mobile device. So conversion for those buyers on mobile doesn’t have the same path to purchase as it does for consumers. You need to think differently – how easy it is for them to share content, download a white paper, or sign up for a newsletter? How do you measure not only the performance of mobile content, but what action it prompts and the ultimate outcome?
Mobile gives companies a real-time, immediate way to reach audiences – but they have to be willing to stay relevant in this world. The key lies in understanding the role that mobile plays in driving greater engagement for other activities and channels, and then being able to create the right experience through mobile devices.