The Great Digital Marketing Divide: Finding Success on the Small(est) Screen

This is the second installment in a multi-part blog series on the growing gap between online marketing efforts measured through online transactions and online marketing measured through offline behaviors. Read the first installment here.

In the first installment of this blog series, we talked about the importance of bridging the growing divide between traditional online marketing (focused primarily on online behavior and conversion), and marketing aimed at understanding the relationship between online marketing and offline behavior and conversion. The rise of mobile device makes bridging this gap even more critical. Mobile devices themselves serve as information bridges between the virtual and the physical. People not only make e-commerce purchases, but they also use these devices to search for the closest answer to immediate questions.

Smart phones are being used for everything imaginable and in all places. Despite a spate of projections that mobile search will overtake desktop search in the next couple of years, some companies have been slow to shift dollars to mobile marketing efforts.
One reason that marketers have been slow to make the shift is that campaign success looks quite different in the mobile environment. Not only do the important mobile metrics differ from traditional advertising, but they also differ from desktop metrics. In these situations it makes more sense to track phone calls from your mobile site, coupon downloads or searches for a specific location as opposed to impressions, clicks, bounce rate or click through rate. When the goals and metrics change, the definition of success also changes.

While people do indeed make purchases directly from mobile devices, we know that searches on mobile devices are about 50% more likely to be local in nature. This will often be searches for a location, directions or other store information before going to a bricks and mortar location. For evidence of this, look no further than Google’s report that 62% of searches for restaurants this past Valentine’s Day came from mobile devices. It would be interesting to know how many of those restaurants were deliberately targeting the mobile channel and measuring those startling results. It’s safe to say that those who did saw the value of the mobile channel.

So how can you take advantage of these trends? Engaging with mobile users is going to be different for every company and brand; however, the fundamentals remain the same. The first thing that needs to be addressed is the maps channel, which will ensure consumers are able to find your location and get directions (much more on this in an upcoming post). It’s also a key consideration to make sure that mobile users are getting a mobile-optimized experience. Consumers should be able to navigate your site and find all relevant information without pinching and pulling the screen. A mobile optimized site will allow for users to simply click your phone number or address and make contact with your brand. While this may seem like a no-brainer, Acuity Group estimates that only 12% of companies have mobile optimized sites.

Once the basic tactics have been addressed, the evidence will be there to help you determine if more sophisticated mobile endeavors should be pursued. Would it make sense for your company to develop an app, mobile paid search or SMS advertising? Those could all be potentially profitable campaigns and may require additional analysis. However, they will only yield a positive outcome if the basics have been addressed. It’s a simple matter to measure the traffic you’re getting from mobile channels, and features like click to call and links to directions make it even easier to bridge the divide between this kind of online marketing and offline conversion.

If you’re not tracking mobile results separately, you’re missing out on a big shift in the space. It will only become more important in the coming months and years to have an established mobile presence. While mobile can provide some really interesting and innovative ways for consumers to interact with brands, the immediate value comes from the ability to interact on a local level. Providing the correct information when a consumer needs it most may seem simple, but it can be the difference between winning and losing in the mobile game.

Bryan Cox – Digital Strategist

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