Today’s local consumer is a mobile consumer.
With smartphone penetration nearing ubiquity (58 percent of U.S. adults have a smartphone, according to Pew Research), today’s shoppers have a wealth of information at their fingertips, at all times whenever and wherever they are shopping. Google calls this force the “Zero Moment of Truth” — the moment when everything about a product (good and bad) can be accessed in near real time.
Because smartphones and other mobile devices are completely location-aware, marketers are faced with not only a big challenge, but also huge opportunity to connect consumers with offers available to them at nearby stores.
“Mobile” and “Local” are almost synonymous.
Consumers leverage mobile for a variety of reasons — most importantly — searching for products and businesses. A recent study from comScore, Neustar Localeze, and 15 Mile found that nearly 80 percent of mobile users leverage their devices for local search, mostly seeking business locations, products and services. Mobile search clearly opens a powerful gateway to bottom-funnel consumers. Yet marketers aren’t matching mobile ad dollars (4 percent of total spending in 2013) with mobile usage (20 percent share), according to noted Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers analyst Mary Meeker.
This is because until recently mobile ad strategy centered on a multiscreen approach that leveraged standard-size display ads or static in-app “download now” ads on mobile browsers. But mobile ads designed for larger computer screens haven’t captured the attention of consumers; rather, they’ve drawn “fat thumb” clicks that don’t result in sales. The promise of mobile advertising is in highly personalized targeting technology, not in static banner ads.
“Mobile First” is no longer a presumption; it’s the standard.
Brands and retailers must consider mobile usage as the primary driver of marketing strategy from both creative and execution standpoints. That means taking advantage of mobile factors to design engaging ads and user experiences, using location data to deliver the most relevant results.
When it comes to search advertising, there is really no distinction between mobile and local. When users search on smartphones, search results are often hyperlocal. Whether it’s a mom with a cold searching for the nearest drugstore for medicine, or a teenager searching for where they can get a newly released video game, mobile search is often the first and most powerful engagement point. Today when consumers have a question, they go to their phone first. It is often the first opportunity to connect a consumer with an offer in their immediate or nearby vicinity. The opportunity to drive a sale from this searching behavior shouldn’t be passed by.
Build mobile search campaigns separate from desktop search campaigns.
For mobile search ads to be effective, they must go beyond the standard PPC listing. Prominent click-to-call buttons or links to maps and store directions offer excellent ways to connect local searchers with their targets. Other tactics, such as links to product reviews, not only offer the social validation consumers want, but also push competitor listings further down the mobile screen.
Additionally, marketers must think about separating desktop and mobile search campaigns. That does not mean that they should no longer work together, but they must be built with the channel in mind. Mobile search results are limited to a few paid ads at the top and bottom of mobile screens, rather than the dozen or so paid listings that can appear on desktop browsers. That means a different bidding strategy for each to ensure your results rise to the surface. Separating efforts enables you to add mobile-specific attributes to your campaigns, such as targeting by device type and leveraging mobile-specific creative.
One of the best ways to help consumers find you is through app extension ads. According to comScore, over 51 percent of mobile time is spent within apps — up more than 65 percent over the past several years. Giving consumers an option to engage with your brand through an app is literally giving them what they want.
It’s never too late to optimize.
If your company lacks focus on mobile, you’re not alone. Forty-five percent of Fortune 100 companies don’t even have a mobile website, and only 21 percent of the world’s top advertisers have a mobile-optimized websites. With more and more searches taking place on mobile devices, “mobile first” is not just a buzzword; it’s a call to arms for marketers who want to succeed at the local market level.