6 Keys to Mobile Search Marketing Success

A funny thing happened on the bus on my way to work recently. I was on my phone searching for a lunchtime haircut spot, the lady next to me was shopping for new curtains on her iPad, and a Wall Street type was talking loudly on his phone asking for tips prior to laying a bet with his bookie (you have to love New York City).

Each of us, in our own way, was using our mobile devices to reach out and find answers to our pressing questions. But until a few years ago, the only way we could reach out and answer these questions in a mobile fashion was via email and/or asking someone on the other end, a process that was inefficient at best and frustrating and without closure at worst.

Due to the advances in mobile hardware, software, and user experience, much of this has changed and finally rivals what we love about desktop searching. Screens are big enough to read, keyboards are ergonomic enough to allow for speed, and — most importantly — the search engines and marketers have begun to adapt their search offerings to address our mobile needs.

Mobile Market Maturation Means Money in Search Marketing

As of February 2011, there were over 234 million mobile phone users (age 13+) in the U.S., with nearly 50 percent searching on their mobile devices in some capacity during the course of a given month. Mobile searching is especially prevalent among smart phone users, which now accounts for over 30 percent of the total U.S. mobile marketplace.

Considering that 50 percent of all new phones purchased in the U.S. are smartphones, it’s clear that mobile searching will not be slowing down anytime soon. Toss in another 10 million or so iPad/Tablet users (and counting) and you begin to see why we are finally reaching the tipping point where marketers must address their mobile paid search strategy as its own concern, and not simply allow the search engines to serve mobile ads by default.


6 Keys to Mobile Search Marketing Success

In a recent webinar collaboration I did with The Search Agency, we ran through a variety of best practices and practical recommendations for mobile search marketers.

According to The Search Agency’s client files, mobile CPCs (cost per click) are 30 percent less than those on desktop, but the mobile click-through rate (CTR) is roughly five times higher than that of desktop. This data presents a rather compelling argument on why your paid mobile strategy requires separate targeting.

Below are some of our highlighted points and recommendations for search marketers:

  1. The AdWords interface will show you what portion of your clicks and conversions come from mobile vs. desktop, and if 10 percent or more of a campaign come from mobile devices, consider targeting separately.
  2. Google allows for targeting by specific devices, operating systems, and carrier (with further tablet targeting options expected later this year), which is important because the end user mobile search experience is different on a mobile phone than it is on an iPad/tablet.
  3. Mobile searching lends itself to shorter query lengths and hyper-local results. Google’s mobile keyword selection tool offers great assistance for getting started when choosing your ad keywords.
  4. The searcher’s attention span is limited, so make mobile specific ad copy short and sweet. Include clickable phone numbers and/or geo-targeted maps to enhance your CTRs and conversions.
  5. Landing pages from mobile search clicks should reflect your conversion goals. If you want them to call you, download something, watch a video, and/or view a map, optimize these pages accordingly.
  6. When launching new campaigns, it’s best to start with an aggressive bidding strategy, which will allow you to establish a strong quality score off the bat. Securing position in the top two paid results is imperative with the limited viewing area on mobile devices.


Mobile marketing techniques must keep up with mobile user and technology sophistication.

Desktop search may continue to dominate overall search market share, but mobile search is a new frontier with potentially different searcher intent. Lumping the two in together without taking the time to analyze the differences could lead to costly mistakes, both short and long term.

Although the advent of new mobile devices like the iPad are closing the gap in experience between mobile and desktop searching, the ubiquity of smartphone adoption requires some alternate thinking in order to best capitalize on your mobile strategy.

You’re probably tired of hearing that it’s the “Year of Mobile,” but these numbers and results indicate it may actually be the time to starting thinking differently about this medium.

Make the effort. You won’t be disappointed.

Webinar recording and slides for Mobile Search: Techniques and Tactics for Marketers can be downloaded here.

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