10 Trends & Tips To Consider In Creating A Winning Mobile Strategy For Local Search & Marketing

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Local Search Association’s (LSA) 2014 “Local Media Tracking Study” conducted by Burke, Inc. found that on average, mobile phones/smartphones are used to search the internet – across search engines, internet yellow pages, ratings and review sites and daily deals – 42% of the time compared to just 34% in 2013.

This jump in mobile usage means it is time to reexamine your mobile strategy. I take a look at the latest data available to identify mobile trends and ten things to keep in mind that will help develop a winning mobile strategy for your business.

1. Mobile Strategy Is Now Must-Have

A mobile strategy is no longer nice-to-have. While some like to remind us that computers and laptops remain the most common device for searching the internet, the shift to mobile, in particular to mobile phones and smartphones is quickly closing the gap.

As recently as 2012, 80% of those surveyed used a computer or laptop to search the internet. That dropped to 73% in 2013 and 66% in 2014, according to LSA’s Local Media Tracking Study. Mobile phones and smartphone use in search increased from 25% in 2012 to 34% in 2013 and 42% in 2014.

If these trends continue at the same rate, the majority of Americans will use a mobile phone or smartphone for search next year and phones will overtake PC use for search within two years.

Device used to search internet 2014
Takeaway: Mobile takeover is inevitable. Marketing efforts and campaigns often build on previous work and so starting early with a mobile strategy and designing marketing collateral and campaigns around that strategy will be easier than trying to convert to mobile later. You know it’s coming – don’t delay

2. Consumers Respond To Mobile Marketing

Mobile ad spending still lags mobile use for various reasons including ineffective ad options, difficulty in measuring ROI, and the simple fact that consumers had not been responding to marketing on smaller screens.

All of those things are changing and forecasts reflect that change. Digital ad spending, including mobile search, is expected to double in the next 3 years to almost $59 billion by 2018 according to eMarketer’s U.S. Ad Spending Q4 2014 Forecast.

Further, the latest data reveals consumers are responding to mobile marketing today. Surveys from Thrive Analytics’ 2015 Local Search Report show that 55% of consumers have clicked on a mobile ad on their mobile device demonstrating greater acceptance to ads on phones and tablets. Those users are ready to buy as 53% of consumers who clicked on the ad ended up making a purchase.

Consumer that have clicked/tapped on a mobile ad on their mobile device
Takeaway: Mobile marketing is becoming more effective and more accepted by consumers so, even if you have not had a great experience with it in the past, now may be time to try again. Or try exploring new options to expose your business on mobile devices.

3. More Consumers On-The-Go Looking For Local Info On Mobile Devices

In just the past 12 months, where and when consumers are looking for local information has changed significantly. Compared to last year, there has been a 25% increase in consumers that look for local information while they are out, away from home or work, according to the 2015 Local Search Report.

Today, a majority of searches for local information on mobile phones (52%) occur while consumers are either in the car or away from home or work.

When you look for local info on your mobile device, where do you tend to be?
Takeaway: Local businesses must reach consumers on-the-go and utilize location based mobile marketing strategies such as geo-targeted ads. Finding ways to target those on-the-go consumers, such as geo-targeting, are very effective strategies.

Note that there are variances based on type of geo-targeting including geo-fencing, geo-awareness and DMA (Designated Market Area) as I discussed last month. Nevertheless, tools like geo-targeting demonstrate clear increases in marketing performance.

4. Consumers Use Phones In Stores: Plan Accordingly

Sixty percent (60%) of consumers report using their smartphone often or every time while shopping in malls, grocery or retail stores according to Thrive Analytics’ 2015 Local Search Report.

That number appears to be growing, demonstrating that not only are more consumers using phones in stores, but they are doing so more frequently. The continued growth in use causes retailers and brick and mortar stores to fear showrooming: looking at products at a store and then buying it from someone else online (usually for less).

On the other hand, the Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce reports that e-commerce sales accounted for 7.7% of total retail sales in Q4 of 2014 which means more than 92% of retail shopping is still done in-store.

Nielsen, xAd and Telmetrics’ 2014 Mobile Path to Purchase study also found that more than half (52%) of mobile-driven purchases include a visit to a physical store and nearly two-thirds (64%) of those purchases are completed offline.

How often do you use your smartphone while shopping in malls, grocery or retail stores?
Takeaway: Consumers will use their phones in stores, but technology exists to help take advantage of that use. Per point 2 above, consumers are receptive to advertising on their phones so pushing ads or offers to them while in store may be effective. Consumers will also have their phones out when looking at the competition.

Consider geo-conquesting that targets ads at consumers located in or around competitors’ store locations that reach ready-to-buy audiences interested in your product or service. Offering other opportunities for smartphone use such as mobile payments may be attractive to tech-savvy consumers.

And, technology such as beacons can help capture data about your shoppers that provides insights to understand their needs or wants and helps you create a shopping experience that better caters to them.

5. Consumers Respond To Mobile Marketing When Relevant To Buying Decision

We’ve already seen that consumers use their mobile devices when searching for local information and in stores while shopping. They are also more receptive to receiving ads on those devices.

The most effective ads were those that catered to the immediate needs of the consumer. According to the 2015 Local Search Report, 56% of consumers clicked on a mobile ad and made a purchase because the content was relevant to something they were already looking at and 50% did so because the ad offered an attractive discount or deal.

Reason a mobile ad made consumers make a purchase
Takeaway: With much of mobile use being on-the-go, consumers are at the stage on the path to purchase where they are ready to buy.

Mobile marketing strategies should include not just brand awareness or discovery focused campaigns, but also those that reach consumers at the end point of the purchase decision.

For example, mobile coupons delivered when a consumer arrives at a store or limited time offers made when a search result pulls up, motivate purchases at a time when the consumer is deciding whether or what to buy.

6. On-The-Go Consumers On Mobile Are Action-Oriented

Another measurement of consumer engagement with mobile marketing is the secondary action rate. Secondary actions are those actions taken after an ad is clicked on such as placing a phone call, making a reservation, seeking directions, or requests for more information.

The below chart from the Local Search Association’s LSA Insights database shows that mobile display ads that were geo-targeted had secondary action rates much higher than the industry benchmark, up to 2.5 times higher.

Since geo-targeted ads often reach those on-the-go consumers, the data demonstrates that those on-the-go consumers frequently take action in response to marketing or interact with the advertiser.

geo-targeted mobile display (secondary action rates)
Takeaway: Make it easy for consumers to follow through on these secondary actions. Whether it be a landing page from an ad or the front page of your website, mobile strategies must make click to call, online appointments/reservations, menus, directions and other information related to purchase decisions immediately accessible, clearly signposted, or easy to find.

7. Local Search Mobile Devices Skewed Toward Younger Generations

When asked how likely a user was to use a mobile device to look for local products or services, Gen Y consumers were almost 4 times more likely than Older Boomers and Seniors to rate the likelihood of doing so 5 out of 5, according to Thrive Analytics’ Local Search Report.

Gen Y consumers gave a 5 rating 47% of the time while Gen X consumers were not far behind at 42%. Young Boomers only did so 18% of the time and Older Boomers and Seniors even less so at 13%. Thus, mobile marketing efforts will reach younger consumers more often than older consumers.

Likelihood consumers will use mobile search to look for local products or services
Takeaway:  When resource constraints force you to prioritize marketing efforts, it may be more efficient for mobile strategies to focus on Gen X and Gen Y consumers. Doing so will likely give you more bang for your buck and help optimize your marketing efforts.

Understand that this is certainly a generalization and that doing so may miss the consumer demographic with the most disposable income. Whether you limit your mobile marketing efforts in this manner should also depend on your business’ ideal audience or consumer.

However, targeted campaigns are effective, and customized marketing campaigns that appeal to one group as opposed to everyone generally perform better. Younger audiences are definitely a good target for mobile marketing campaigns.

8. Mobile Ad Campaign Performance Data Available In Significant Volume & Detail

Whether it be via programmatic ad buying or email blasts directly from your inbox, lots of decisions need to be made to maximize the performance of marketing efforts. I’ve already discussed targeting your audience and targeting geographic area or location.

You can also target by season, time of day, day of week, around events, by consumer behavior, income level, occupation, product or service type, and many other variables. Doing so can make significant differences in performance of marketing campaigns.

For example, the below chart from LSA Insights demonstrates the significant difference in click-through-rates of ads by month for two industries that both rely on the summer swing of residential real estate sales. Storage facility mobile ad performance peaks in April and falls from there while moving company mobile ad performance peaks in June.

Storage and Moving Mobile Display Ad CTRs
Takeaway: Don’t use broad data such as national statistics or non-category-specific performance numbers to develop local mobile campaigns. Use data specific to mobile devices, to your geographic area, to your business category and to your audience to customize campaigns that are proven to perform well.

This data is available and is robust. Using data to better target your marketing will save you money and give you a better return on investment.

9. Consumers Prefer Mobile Websites Over Mobile Apps

A 2013 study by Google/Nielsen found that 59% of consumers visit a business’ website when conducting a mobile search; yet, a Yodle survey found that 9 out of 10 small business owners say their websites are not optimized for mobile.

Further, according to LSA’s Local Media Tracking Study conducted by Burke, Inc. and released last year, 7 out of 10 users prefer mobile websites over mobile apps.

Consumer Prefer Mobile Websites over Mobile Apps
Takeaway:  Everyone should have a mobile-optimized website, but it is not always necessary to have an app. Since many consumers visit websites on their mobile devices, having a mobile optimized website that contains key information is essential for providing on-the-go consumers with a positive website e

xperience. Consumers will appreciate the mobile-friendly site and experience, and it will make it easier to find the information they are seeking. A negative website experience can be as bad as a negative in-store experience while a positive experience encourages return visits.

10. Mobile Users On-The-Go Usually Search With Local Intent

Google reported last year that 56% of smartphone searches when on-the-go or in-store have local intent. MediaPost reported that a mention of a location or city name in a mobile ad can improve click through rates by 200% and that Victor Wong, CEO of PaperG, experienced a 70% lift on click through rates for dynamically localized and optimized ads.

A poll by Google in partnership with Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased revealed that half of consumers who conducted local search via smartphones visited a store within a day while just 34% of computer/tablet local searches lead to store visits. So local and mobile are strong catalysts for each other.

Takeaway: Make sure to prominently include information about your location in all mobile marketing. Much of the time, location is key information that users are searching for and it will improve the performance of your mobile campaigns.

Address, neighborhood, local area code, maps and other information are vital to communicating your local location and maximizing the effectiveness of your mobile strategy.

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