Mobile Search Strategies for 2011


strategy_smallADOTAS – I’ve heard and read mobile disappointed a lot of marketers last year, where more hype was generated than results. So, I admit, even I was a little surprised at some of the results our team uncovered while conducting a year-end review of campaign metrics for one of our retail clients.

From 2009 to 2010, traffic from mobile sources jumped 200%. By May, mobile traffic was at 80% of the December 2009 traffic. By end of August, mobile search traffic in the “off season” had passed this retailer’s peak season traffic. Remember, this is a retail client, where Q4 is typically the strongest season. SEO traffic from mobile devices was also up year-over-year. Not surprising: the iPad represented 38% of all search traffic, followed by near tie between iPhone and Android operating systems.

Now, that’s just traffic. Click-through rates (CTR) for mobile paid search campaigns were higher than traditional devices, 30-32% higher. The mobile cost-per-click (CPC) was27%-38% less expensive compared to traditional search campaigns.

The conversion rate from traditional devices was twice as high of mobile, regardless of campaign. This makes perfect sense; this retailer had not yet invested in a custom mobile buying experience for its customers.

I compared these results to several other clients where mobile campaigns were active in 2010. While results varied by type of campaign (e.g., B2B, B2C, lead generation or ecommerce, etc.) the results were similar.

Although I have several mobile devices (iPad, Android mobile for work, my old LG enV2 which is still great for texting, and my older still but trusty Dell Inspiron laptop), I am not quite ready to make a “must do” list but these are mobile strategies advertisers should consider in 2011:

1. Create Separate Campaigns – Develop a unique paid search campaign for mobile including social media campaigns on Facebook. If the campaigns are not separated it will be difficult to measure your mobile campaigns. Also don’t forget to have separate phone tracking.

2. Segment iPad Campaigns – Although they are mobile devices, the iPad and similar tablets are not the same as iPhone or Androids from a user experience. They mimic more of the traditional computer. These campaigns should be tracked separately, including phone.

3. Initiate Different Engagement Strategies – While it is easy to copy an existing paid search campaigns into mobile campaigns, and call it a day – don’t stop here. The mobile campaigns should have different bidding and messaging strategies. For example our client results suggest that the mobile channel appreciates shorter, more direct messaging.

4. Develop a Custom Mobile Experience – While a search engine marketing campaign can generate traffic from an iPhone, the mobile experience needs to be complete through the entire buy funnel. Design and develop mobile landing pages, especially for lead generation campaigns. Consider investing in a mobile microsite if you have sales funnels that are complex, long or have high average order value (AOV) potential. If the site is ecommerce, consider porting some key products to a mobile ecommerce site.

5. Become Location-Aware – While Google has a long way to go on delivering location-based SEO results, mobile and paid search are ready now. If your company has physical stores, create location specific ads. Consider mobile or SMS (text) coupons. Engage customers on Yelp. Reward existing customers that check-in with FourSquare or offer new customers a free appetizer or discount.

6. Become a Social Butterfly – At the end of 2010, Google admitted to integrating “social signals” as part of its ranking algorithm. Therefore in 2011 engage your clients and prospects on Facebook. Announce and promote offers on Twitter and StumbleUpon. Some sites like SlickDeals now offer local deals (see location-aware).

7. Consider Developing an App – Apps are what differentiates mobile from traditional computing devices. Apps keep your customers and prospects involved with your brand, albeit a gaming or service-based experience. For those businesses that can make apps work to engage customers and help their customers while supporting the brand attributes, the results are huge.

Since I love SEO, I should discuss mobile SEO. While Google made a lot of algorithmic changes in 2010, unfortunately (or fortunately) there is not much to report. Although Google uses your IP address to personalize search results, permits “my location” in its toolbar and offers you to enter a default location in your preferences, I have not yet experienced materially different organic search results based on the device.

The only noteworthy variations I see are from smart advertisers in the paid search results. I expect this to change in the future – so sit tight – it is going to be an interesting year in mobile search engine marketing.


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