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by Dean Marsden on 12th July 2012
Smartphones and Tablets are now as powerful as some desktop computers 5 years ago. The mobile device has seen rapid increases in user numbers since the Apple iPhone originally launched in 2007 and more so since the launch of the Apple iPad in 2009.
They offer users access to the web and online services on the move and are usually cheaper to purchase than a traditional computer. This has meant more and more of the population using the internet on these devices for finding information, shopping and socialising. eCommerce and social networks now receive significant proportions of visitors from a mobile device. In this blog post I’m going to summarise how these advances in technology have shaped Digital Marketing.
Disclaimer: I believe that technology has come first and the Digital Marketing has adapted from it and in most cases it has adapted slowly.
Let’s start with the obvious one, Search. Google has led the way in building a set of results optimised for mobile phones and tablets. On Tablets in particular, Google displays results differently depending on which way round the user has their device, landscape or portrait. This directly effects the performance of AdWords listings. If you are advertising through AdWords on these devices, you now need to be one of the most relevant to a user’s search in order to have you advert show at the top.
Location dependent results are also served up as mobile devices have built in GPS or can be located via the phone networks. Half of all local searches are performed on a mobiles device, this has meant more exposure for Google Places listings most relevant to a users search. A click to call button is also the most prominent as the first option under each local listing on a smartphone. Google has performed research and found that smartphone users are most likely to be searching for local businesses and as such these results are given priority.
Mobile websites have come a long way since the beginning of mobile internet and so has connection speeds. Mobile sites no longer need to be cut down in size and information. Most modern mobile devices have the ability to show full websites that can be easily zoomed in and out for easier viewing on smaller screens.
Website owners have realised the significant increase in visits from mobile devices and worked hard to optimise their websites for these smaller screen sizes. This has led to an explosion in ‘responsive’ website design where websites dynamically resize their layout to best fit. Google have recently published their preference on optimising a site for mobile devices as using responsive design. It’s the best option if you want to appear higher up in the mobile device search results.
Responsive websites save you having to rewrite content and all of your information is displayed to every user in a way that is comfortable to read. Responsive layouts have generated increased leads and sales for businesses as a result of the better user experience.
Apps (or mobile device applications) are seen as the cooler way to connect with brands and online services. This is despite the slightly higher costs and ease of creating mobile device specific websites (see responsive design above). However, Apps represent a good opportunity to give your brand a longer term ‘relationship’ with the user by remaining on a their device for longer than a website.
In most cases Apps for businesses tend to just be ‘interfaces’ for displaying data which could have been seen on a website but with greater ease of use to the user. Creating an app takes slightly more investment and can also be an ongoing cost as fixing user issues becomes an issue. However Apps are still extremely popular due to being ‘cool’ so cannot be ignored and brands from all industries have developed them for their target audience.
If you have a business or service that can give users a tool to do what they need then this offers a lot more to the user and can help with longer brand engagement. If you are offering something unique you can your App for a price to help pay for the costs of development. Sometimes, users see Apps with a price more worthwhile than a free app and you can even generate more downloads.
Remember, Apps are not limited to Smartphones and Tablets, people develop apps for other platforms too, such as Facebook or Google Chrome. Finding out what platforms your market utilise is a good way to help choose how to choose what App to create.
Apps can generate referral traffic to your website and the App store services can also give your App the necessary exposure. Marketers are also promoting their Apps through third party App review sites, providing links back to your main website and helping with the SEO.
Previously mobile devices weren’t considered a target for eCommerce businesses as the limitations of the devices seemed to much to allow shopping to take place. The consensus was that people didn’t want to shop on their smaller devices, but in fact mobile device eCommerce has come a long way. In fact users are keen to purchase items wherever they are.
Studies into the behaviour of website users on mobile devices have shown that those with the latest technology are more likely to spend more through eCommerce transactions. Tie this into an optimised PPC campaign and a responsive wesbite design and there are greater opportunities at the moment to generate higher ROI’s than traditional websites because the competition have not yet invested in this.
Website owners have tested and optimised checkout processes specifically for mobiles devices in order to improve conversion rates and reduce drop out rates. Cutting back form lengths and using address look up tools are essential for these users as typing is harder on these devices. Saving users having to log in each time and 1-click purchasing services have now become common as a result of more mobile device eCommerce optimisation.
Despite Facebook launching in 2005, just two years before the launch of the iPhone, it wasn’t envisioned as a marketing tool for businesses; but throughtout the last few years the massive numbers of users on social networks had become too hard to resist for many. Social network operators opened up ways for businesses to communicate with users. Previously customers were stuck with email and telephone number contact options which was frustrating for some as voices couldn’t always be heard.
These days, following and communicating with your favourite companies on social networks has become commonplace due to the easy access we now have to them on our mobile devices. More than 1/3 of Facebook’s user base use the mobile version of Facebook and over 50% of Twitter users use Twitter mobile.
This ‘open’ communication is mostly public which has its pros and it’s cons. If you’re a business with great customer service this will provide significant benefits, but it requires investment into human resources to manage contact through these sources. If your business receives negative comments online, being a part of social networks is equally important so you can respond to issues in person as opposed to ignoring them and letting them become more damaging. Monitoring your social media mentions has now become much easier due to mobile devices.
Email marketing used to be a revolutionary way to promote products and services to customers when it became a mainstream communication tool. Getting your message across instantly and being able to track response rates is very powerful to businesses.
Since those years, email marketing has taken a bit of kick as it became a lot cheaper to use and spamming databases of contacts became a real problem. These days new rules around email marketing are helping fight spam.
Mobile devices have kick-started a fresh opportunity in email marketing as they are able to offer full HTML email support and technologies such as ‘push’ email help users get notified of new messages wherever they are. Nearly all modern mobile devices offer an email client that support this. It could be thought of as a better way to distribute more detailed information than social networking and it lets you be as creative as you like without the limitations of a platform.
There is currently a large switch to responsive email design much like boom in responsive website design. Creating an email that doesn’t require a user to zoom in is only going to help generate clicks and greater responses.
Email marketing has now come full circle, back to a point where it is effective and offers low investment. This is thanks to a significant change in how people access email on mobile devices.
Mobile devices have provided a far greater opportunity to give your brand exposure, connect with your audience remotely and locations, plus it has led to lucrative opportunities for sales and lead generation for those that have adapted their digital marketing offerings via these new sources.
‘Online’ is no longer just desktop website optimisation and promotion. ‘Digital’ is the new way of reaching out to customers online, wherever they may be. Take Koozai as an example: we receive a large percentage of our business through new digital channels which have been created from the boom in mobile device usage. Alongside the direct sales from these sources, being active across more digital sources also helps your traditional SEO efforts for your website by increasing brand mentions and links back to your website.
Set of touchscreen smartphones via BigStock