Paid Search Is Promoting Mobile Influence For Marketers

Mobile is driving a mountain of ecommerce dollars -- but not in terms of direct sales. Last year, only about 2% of total retail occurred via smartphones, according to Forrester.

Yet, mobile influenced 32% of total retail sales which comes out to about $1.1 trillion, the research firm calculates.

By “influence,” Forrester is referring to “sales from consumers who research their purchases online but buy the product in the store,” said analyst Susan Wu. “The term ‘research’ is very broad and can vary from looking up a store location to making brand or purchase decisions online.” 

Among other tactics, paid search advertising is one way marketers are achieving mobile influence. Specifically, search ads make it possible to capitalize on what Forrester calls “mobile moments” -- brief but critical instances when consumers need something, be it a service, a product or information.

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Even when consumers don’t act immediately after searching for something, these connections can create powerful first impressions for brands. These impressions often impact consumers’ final purchase decisions, whether they happen on another device or at a physical retail location.

In order to capitalize on such moments, U.S. marketers are now setting more than one-quarter of their search budgets aside for mobile, Forrester estimates.

And mobile search spending is expanding beyond Google, according to Forrester. Chiefly, this is because consumers are increasingly embracing other ways to discover, research and purchase products.

Cutting Google out of the equation, apps are creating more “vectors” for search, in Forrester’s words. More often, there is also the presence of nontraditional search engines, such as Pinterest and Amazon to consider.

Indeed, 35% of users ages 18-to-34 cited Amazon’s app as essential to their digital lives, according to a recent report from comScore.

By contrast, only 11% of this prized demographic cited Google’s search app as central to lives.

Social advertising also contributes to mobile influence, Forrester notes. Asked about the sources they use to research a recent purchase, 51% of U.S. consumers said social media and blogs were among the most influential in helping with their decision.

Because social media has relatively high usage on mobile, social media is even more important for mobile-influenced sales.

For its findings, Forrester analyzed responses to an online survey from more than 4,500 U.S. adults.

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