In 2014, more than 1.75 billion consumers will use smartphones. The adoption of Internet-enabled mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets, has further cemented ours as a multi-device world. Mobile devices have taken a more central role in consumers' lives – from research and content consumption to social sharing and shopping – and these shifting consumer behaviors were notable this holiday season.
From personal experience, I can attest to these changing trends. I traveled over Thanksgiving and Christmas and opted to tote my more conveniently-sized tablet instead of my laptop.
Over the course of my trips, I turned to my tablet while relaxing (and digesting) to check out the latest deals and sales. When I wasn't searching and shopping on my device, I was checking in on my social media accounts to post photos and wish my friends a happy holiday.
With activities like these becoming more prevalent, smartphones, and tablets continue proving to be much more than just "on the go" devices. Advertisers must seize the opportunity to capture and engage potential consumers across mobile devices and through different apertures, such as search and social.
With 2014 shaping up to be a banner year for mobile, here's how marketers should equip their paid search and social campaigns to ride the mobile wave.
Consider the Consumer When Developing a Mobile Paid Search Strategy
The biggest news on the paid search front in 2013 had to be Google's switch to enhanced campaigns. Google's response to the evolving multi-device world was a step to better align its advertisers with the future of digital marketing, streamlining campaigns and taking context into account.
As marketers continue to gain confidence in multi-device strategies, the next level of opportunity lies in refining bid adjustments, targeting, and optimizing these campaigns.
Consumers are ready and willing to engage with paid search via mobile devices. In the U.S., seasonal shoppers turned to these deviceson key 2013 shopping dates with more than one out of every three paid search clicks originating from phones and tablets. Of these two devices, tablets saw significant increases, with revenues doubling year-over-year to nearly 19 percent.
Once mobile ads are served, advertisers should think about the experience the consumer will have. Nearly half of all mobile searcherssay they would be more likely to turn to another brand if a business lacks a phone number in its search results. This rings true particularly for local search marketers as click-to-call represents a powerful way to connect directly with consumers looking to get in touch.
Once marketers enable click-to-call functionality, it's crucial to track this activity and analyze these calls. By associating phone calls back to ads and keywords, marketers can discover what works to keep the phone ringing and optimize ad buys accordingly.
Following the click, a mobile-friendly website is a must-have – whether B2C or B2B. Nothing deters a consumer more than reaching a website not optimized for his or her device and having to navigate through a clunky mobile experience. This can be a lengthy and expensive task, so marketers should start by focusing on the key components of their site, seeking ways to create a simplified and streamlined mobile environment.
Driving Mobile App Activity Through Social Ads
Shoppers didn't just engage with mobile paid search this holiday, they also turned to branded mobile apps. With more than 100 million apps available in the Apple App Store alone, it's imperative for marketers to cut through the noise to gain visibility.
Facebook reported that in 2013 its mobile app ads helped drive more than 145 million installs.
Driving installs gets consumers to a branded app, but it's what they do within the app that really makes an impact. It's critical for brands to encourage more down-the-funnel conversion events – such as signups, video views, or in-app purchases. Facebook offers mobile app ads that promote this type of engagement by deep linking to specific contentthat correlates to a desired action.
Marketers should deliver clear and powerful calls to action to make the most of this ad type. By layering some of the sophisticated targeting options offered by Facebook, such as Custom Audiences, marketers can ensure they are targeting the right customers.
Twitter also offers ways to target app installs via its App Card (not currently a paid ad format). Its acquisition of mobile ad exchange, MoPub, certainly added to the company's push for mobile, and soon after, Twitter announced updates to its ad targeting to include options for segmenting audiences by device, OS, and WiFi connection. Taking advantage of these newer options offers advertisers more granular control in reaching desired consumers.
Embrace the Mobile Era
The time is now to invest and capitalize on mobile. The best thing marketers can do is to research and understand the trends in mobile consumer search and social behavior and the various ad options available in the market. Cobbling together a mobile strategy won't cut it. Marketers must embrace the mobile shift and develop well-informed strategies to win in this new era.