ADOTAS – Tablet and smart phone devices have forever changed the search marketing landscape, as the year of mobile has finally happened. Tablet sales were up 260 percent year-on-year during the first three quarters of 2011, according to PC World magazine, while IDC projected sales of more than 63 million tablets, including the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook, in the fourth quarter. This technology shift is altering consumer search behavior and requires a different approach to marketing.
With the launch of Apple’s iPad 2 and Amazon’s Kindle, the tablet market continues to expand into a more competitive marketplace, with each new product offering something unique. Despite all the bells and whistles, tablets and smart phones share one feature: web browsing. With so many of these mobile devices getting into the hands of consumers, search marketers should be considering how to better target users of tablets or mobile devices who browse and search the web.
Just as mobile users search differently than laptop and desktop PC users, consumers on tablets have some interesting habits when it comes to how they use the web. An independent study conducted by the Covario Paid Media Services team found that tablet users have a higher level of engagement in online video viewing than smart phone users. The study found that tablet viewers watched videos 28 percent longer than those on desktops and mobile devices. Also, tablet users were more than twice as likely to watch a complete video compared to those on a desktop, and 30 percent more likely than those on other mobile devices.
With such behavioral differences in tablet users, search marketers would be wise to take certain steps when setting up tablet- and smartphone-targeted campaigns. Here are some best practices to reach and optimize search campaigns for the mobile consumer.
• Set up separate mobile-specific campaigns. This provides more control over bids and budgets, allowing for separate reports to track results. It also enables the use of separate optimization techniques to drive campaign performance.
Separate campaigns provide further opportunity to test alternative messaging strategies for various mobile platforms, with strong calls to action and relevant ad formats. At my company, Covario, we have found click-to-call and store-locator campaigns to be particularly effective for mobile campaigns.
Google AdWords allows you to target different carriers and devices for mobile. It also offers associated tracking metrics.
• Develop a mobile keyword list. Similar consumer search behaviors exist between mobile and desktop queries, although mobile skews higher on local queries with cities or ZIP codes. Common misspellings are important considerations in keyword strategies for mobile campaigns, given the smaller screen and/or lack of a keyboard, depending upon the device.
Desktop users are more likely to use long-tail keywords, whereas tablet or smart phone users might feel restricted with a touch-screen keyboard. With more mobile devices offering voice search, consumer behavior will eventually shift towards longer phrases and long-tail keywords when searching. For now, however, keeping keywords short — inclusive of misspellings and local derivatives as appropriate — is crucial to campaign success.
• Create compelling ad text. Creating text relevant to mobile users is critical to boosting click-through rates. Consider including an acknowledgment that the consumer is on a mobile device and an immediate call-to-action, i.e. a click to call. Adding local-specific ad text is also crucial, given that one in three mobile search queries have local intent, according to a study by The Kelsey Group. Local mobile advertising reaches consumers who are close to point-of-sale and ready to purchase.
• Bid and budget for mobile search. Create a separate bid strategy for mobile devices. Mobile devices have limited ad spots available compared to desktop search results. In addition, for display, mobile-optimized sites and mobile apps typically have fewer ad slots to display ads.
With respect to mobile search budgeting, it is vital to deeply understand your target audience and allocate your media budget based on when your audience is searching. Further, as mobile media consumption continues to increase, using analytics to identify and track target consumers is critical to mobile marketing success.
A recent Google study indicates that mobile search compliments desktop search. Time-of-day usage peaks for desktop search during the day when many consumers are behind a computer at work. Mobile search behavior peaks toward the end of day into the evening when consumers are home after work, typically consuming other media. Dayparting search campaigns may be a smart strategy, depending upon the target audience and product/service offering.
• Separately track your mobile performance. Setting up separate campaigns for tablets and smart phones allows you to easily track campaign performance and evaluate the ROI of your mobile programs by device based on clear campaign metrics. Use the same discipline with mobile campaigns that is typically used with desktop initiatives, by refining keywords, adding negative keywords, using various match types, adjusting bids to reach CPA or ROAS targets, and pausing under-performing ad groups.
• Optimize your mobile site. You will increase conversions and improve the user experience with a mobile-optimized landing page or site. Effective landing pages with the right level of content and strong, clear calls to action are the ticket to successful conversions and mobile campaigns.
The important thing to realize is that mobile search and devices are here to stay and will continue to evolve. The sooner you develop, test and implement a mobile strategy for your search campaigns, the faster you will reap the benefits and rewards.