Through the third quarter of 2012, 20% or more of retailers’ traffic and sales are now coming through mobile devices. Shoppers have discovered that smartphones in particular are a good tool to price comparison-shop while in physical stores. With Black Friday approaching, people will soon be flocking to retail locations, and if the trend for showrooming holds up through the holiday, as it has done all year, it's probable that traffic and sales from mobile devices will increase beyond 20% in the 4th quarter.
While some retailers feared showrooming early in the year, many are now embracing it. A positive byproduct for the mobile commerce industry is that showrooming has been a catalyst for getting shoppers to actually make purchases on their phones. Mobile as a marketing channel is in its infancy, and as it experiences growing pains, one downside is the challenging KPIs that marketers are seeing for their mobile marketing campaigns. Slow connection speeds have historically hampered ecommerce since the early days of desktop dial-up Internet connections. Such is the case with mobile, which often experiences low conversion rates due to poor connections. Many retail sites, too, are still not optimized for mobile; as responsive design gains traction, this will pass: Next year's mobile landscape will look very different than the olden days of 2012.
All this said, 20% of sales and traffic are coming from mobile devices, from people already comfortable with buying merchandise on their phones. Smart marketers are embracing the 20% and moving forward opportunistically, grabbing hold of programs in a relatively uncluttered mobile marketing landscape. Here are some insider tips on how they plan to leverage the mobile marketing opportunity this coming holiday.
1. Mobile Display: Mobile display impressions are cheap, plentiful and yield fantastic click-through rates. Conversion rates have traditionally been weak, but by buying the inventory inexpensively, it is possible to make the numbers work on a P & L basis. These rates will not last, and next year mobile ad inventory will be selling at much higher rates.
2. Test Ad Exchanges: Performance marketers looking to hit a target ROI goal and wanting to test into mobile display should focus on ad exchanges rather than buying premium display inventory. The metrics may be good enough to make this a new direct-response channel yielding new buyers and incremental customers.
3. Local Search Optimization: Retailers with brick-and-mortar locations should optimize for local search as best they can. Google delivers local results on smartphones at a rate 30% higher than on desktops.
4. Responsive Design Considerations: If a mobile site was built using responsive design, modify content where necessary to showcase the unique features of the different devices, all with an eye toward improving conversion (adding high-converting video to tablet sites, for example).
5. Paid-Search Bidding and Ad Formats: Segment paid-search campaigns by desktop, tablet and smartphone to maximize unique bidding strategies and to take advantage of ad formats that Google makes available by device (click-to-call on smartphones, for example).
6. Operating System Segmentation: Research shows that iOS (iPhone/iPad) users have higher income than their Android counterparts. If it's hard to make the metrics work on smartphones in aggregate, test segmenting by operating system. One strategy here may be to promote higher-end products just on iOS.
7. Copy Considerations: Ad copy should also be modified by device type. It is possible that smartphone users are further down the funnel, especially if they are conducting a local search indicating they may be in the vicinity of a retail location and ready to buy. Call to action should be more urgent in this case, which would not necessarily be appropriate in the wider campaign.
8. Dayparting: Considerable research shows smartphone and tablet searches rising at night and on weekends. If mobile paid-search and/or display campaigns are performing marginally, try running them opportunistically, based on time of day, in order to optimize ad spend.
9. Keyword Strategy: The keyword portfolio for smartphones should be modified since there are fewer long-tail searches than are conducted on desktops and more spelling errors made due to “fat finger” issues on keypads.
10. Promotions: Consider mobile-only promotions to encourage purchases specifically on mobile devices.
Happy mobile marketing!