ADOTAS – For marketers, the latest iPad introduction is a reminder of just how much the e-commerce market is changing. In fact, Apple anticipates that up to 60 million iPads will be sold this year, bringing the total to 100 million since April 2010. In the bigger picture, the tablet industry will continue to grow, with industry analysts at Forrester Research predicting (in the report “Why Tablet Commerce May Soon Trump Mobile Commerce”) that one-third of U.S. adults will own a tablet by 2015.
Along with the growth of the tablet market is consumers’ continued reliance on smartphones, with average smartphone usage nearly tripling in 2011, according to a report from Cisco. Smartphones are becoming important tools not only for online research, but also for in-store purchases.
While these dizzying numbers represent significant opportunities for online advertisers in the$31 billion m-commerce market, they also present challenges to search marketing pros when it comes to campaign strategy, management and execution.
On the one hand, there are now more ways to reach a target audience. Whether at work, home, in-store or on the road, advertisers now have the ability to market to consumers wherever they are. But being able to reach an audience does little good if that audience is not being reached effectively and ultimately converting into sales.
In many ways, best practices for targeted and complementary campaigns across mobile, tablet and traditional PCs have been well-documented. As mobile and tablet commerce continue to grow and change, however, the current approaches to search marketing on these devices need to be revisited if advertisers want to get the most from their investments.
• Consumer behavior: We all know that consumers are double-checking a few sites for the best deals before they commit to a purchase. Consumers also use different devices at different times of the day and use different devices for specific tasks. Today, one in seven searches is conducted on a mobile device. While that may sound small, keep in mind that it has quadrupled since 2010, and there’s no reason to believe that number won’t continue to rise. As adoption of smartphones and tablets continues to grow at a breakneck speed, advertisers will need to make creating strategies for marketing on these devices a priority.
• New capabilities: Search engines are seeing the writing on the wall when it comes to smartphone and tablet usage, especially regarding online retail. They continue to create more advanced targeting methods for advertisers to use to help with optimization.
• Path to conversion: Understanding the path to purchase is critical in today’s online shopping universe. While smartphones often have a much lower return on investment than tablets or desktop computers, they can play an important role in leading to sales on these devices or in-store. Understanding how consumers are using smartphones as they shop for your products is key to marketing to them effectively.
To seize the burgeoning m-commerce opportunities and make the most of your advertising dollars across all platforms and devices, search marketers should consider the following:
• Run separate campaigns on tablets, mobile phones and PCs. This doesn’t mean you can’t run complementary campaigns across various platforms to reinforce your brand. It does, however, require that you carefully plan and target how and where the messages appear. Marketing copy on a mobile phone should be different from that on a tablet or desktop computer. It’s also important to remember that many consumers searching on smartphones may be looking to compare prices or find physical store locations. Use this to your advantage by helping your audience find what they want.
• Create different campaigns for various platforms. This allows you to test campaigns and further segment your audience according to mobile operating system, including Apple iOS, Android, and Microsoft. You may find that iPhone users who are interested in your brand convert at a different rate than Android users. Knowing these types of nuances about your audience can help you optimize your campaigns more effectively.
• Think outside of converting directly from mobile devices. Leverage in-store-only promotions by crafting a mobile strategy to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Targeting mobile campaigns separately will allow you to tailor features provided by the search engines to mobile-only ads. This could be ad copy telling the mobile user to go in-store, a coupon to be redeemed in person, or location extensions directing users to the closest store. Coming up with a strategy to track these sales will go a long way in revealing the importance of your mobile marketing efforts.
As search marketers know, the more targeted the effort, the better the results, and that applies as much to mobile commerce as it does to traditional e-commerce. So if your search marketing efforts have been on autopilot, it’s time to dig in and adjust accordingly. By doing so, your company is more likely to appear in top positions across all possible e-commerce channels and devices. You’ll also be better positioned to convert traffic into sales, both online and offline, as consumer behavior evolves.