In today’s interconnected and technology-dependent world, businesses can no longer afford to stay away from mobile.
With roughly three-quarters of Americans owning a smartphone, and mobile conversions being up 64% compared to desktops, businesses have no choice but to adjust their digital marketing campaigns to the new reality of mobile-driven marketing.
An efficiently launched and well-run mobile marketing campaign can become pivotal in impacting SERPs, traffic, user engagement, and conversions. It is definitely one of a few crucial areas, along with voice search, AI, and machine learning, that every SEO professional needs to pay attention to in 2018.
In this article, I will explain why mobile marketing is a big deal, and also provide a checklist of general tips and guidelines that digital marketers and SEOs can use in their mobile marketing campaigns in 2018.
Mobile marketing trends
Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of our lives, and most businesses are following the trend of integrating them into their marketing campaigns. According to the 2017 Salesforce State of Marketing Report, 68% of marketing leaders use mobile campaign management tools as part of their marketing technology arsenal, while a further 20% plan to do so over the next two years.
This is incredibly important when you consider that:
- 83% of all traffic in the US will be mobile by 2018 (Zenith);
- 50% of US customers will conduct all their online activities on a mobile device by 2018 (Garner);
- By 2019, nearly 72% of digital ad spending in the US will be allocated for mobile platforms (eMarketer);
- The number of mobile app downloads will reach 352.9 billion by 2021 (Statista);
- By 2021, over $1 trillion will be spent worldwide to adapt websites and applications to the realities of the mobile-first world (Biznessapps).
However, figures alone do not make the case for mobile marketing. Smartphones and tablets fit in perfectly with the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI), virtual digital assistants (VDAs), the rise of mobile payments, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).
According to Tractica, by 2020 virtual digital assistants will be installed on more than 3.3 billion devices (primarily, on smartphones and tablets). By 2021, VR/AR market worldwide will grow to $215 billion (versus only $11.4billion in 2017) to generate over $67 billion in revenue.
Clearly, customers are not going to abandon their smartphones any time soon. In fact, with the gradual adoption of so-called progressive web apps (PWAs), imminent improvements in mobile UI/UX and accelerated page-load time, they will rely even more on their mobile devices.
As Neil Patel cleverly puts it: “Mobile isn’t just the way of the future. It’s the way of the now.” Thus, mobile marketing needs to become a marketer’s top priority in 2018.
Mobile marketing checklist for 2018
1. Ensure your sites and apps are mobile-friendly
Business owners, digital marketers and SEO professionals need to make sure that their websites and applications work seamlessly across any mobile device. By this I mean that they should be mobile-friendly, which specifically includes:
Responsive design and excellent load time
All pages have to be responsive and load in less than five (preferably three) seconds. Based on Google’s mobile page speed study, as page load time slows from one second to seven seconds, the bounce rate gradually increases by 113%.
With bounce rates on mobile 40% higher than on desktops, it is clear that users no longer tolerate non-optimized, poorly navigable pages: unclickable buttons and tabs, disproportionate images that do not fit the page, and unreadable content that requires zooming can all be a death knell for your site.
Great mobile search optimization
Your areas of interest here are: (a) Images — compress heavy images; (b) Animations — remove Flash; (c) Pop-ups — get rid of intrusive pop-ups; (d) Titles and meta descriptions — make them shorter, to optimize for lesser screen space.
On top of that, implement structured data markup to help search engines trigger “rich snippets” for related mobile searches, and enhance your mobile technical SEO.
With smartphone users growing year-by-year, it comes as no surprise that making your sites and apps mobile-friendly is crucial. Otherwise, you risk losing a considerable chunk of traffic and customers.
2. Optimize and personalize content for mobile devices
Content provides the bedrock for any website: it attracts, converts, and delights customers. Content, therefore, must not only deliver an enormous amount of value, but it must also be easy to consume. In the mobile-first world, this means two things:
- Optimization of content pages that are slow to load and hard to navigate. Update your mobile design and implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
- Optimization of mobile content for voice search. According to ComScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Use more natural, long-tail keywords, implement Schema.org markup, and create an FAQ page.
However, high-quality, easily navigable content may not be enough.
What users crave is specialized and personalized content: emails, instant app messages, and SMS. All of these elements have amazing open rates (e.g. open rate for SMS is 98%), and, if delivered during so-called micro-moments, they can dramatically increase conversions and ROI.
Note: AI-powered chatbots are also becoming essential to instant messaging apps. They can bolster a company’s credibility through a combination of user behavior analysis and machine-to-human interactions, giving you a head start in delivering personalized content.
3. Prioritize local optimization
With more than 40% of mobile searches having local intent and over 85% of user engagement with brands being local, local search optimization for mobile devices should not be underestimated. Here are several tips to consider:
- Use shorter keywords for organic searches; optimize for longer, more natural keywords for voice searches
- Consider shortening the content of your info pages to 300-500 words (e.g. about us, product & service pages, contact us, etc.)
- Include local keywords in title tags, page titles, Alt texts, and content
- Add your company name, address, and phone number to header, footer, and sidebar
- Prioritize user experience over bot experience (better UX, faster load time, highly-specialized and visually optimized content)
If your business is not showing up for local searches on mobile, you have a problem. Do your SEO homework, and make sure to claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.
4. Adjust your PPC & SMM campaigns for mobile
Since few organic results fit in on a smartphone’s screen, investing resources in developing a paid search strategy makes perfect sense. Consider doing the following:
- Create a compelling, mobile-focused ad copy. Include not only keywords, CTAs, and specifics of your products and services, but also add phrases like “purchase from your smartphone,” “order from your mobile,” “easy mobile leasing,” etc.
- Use mobile ad extensions. Specifically, you should try sitelinks, call extensions, click-to-call ads, and local extensions (e.g. location, affiliate location).
- Set up promoted pins. This puts your logo on the Google Map, which naturally increases the visibility and accessibility of your website in search.
- Optimize your spending and bidding strategies. In the case of automated bid strategies, rely on Google’s Smart Bidding tool. Should you choose to go the manual route, bid your ads to top-performing search results and make sure to adjust them to target your marketing goals.
For your SMM (social media marketing) strategy, follow these trends:
- Invest in video. By 2019, nearly 80% of all mobile traffic will be video traffic (TubularInsights).
- Run livestreams and live videos. According to Facebook, live videos are three times more popular than regular videos. In total, there are more than 32 billion views per day on Facebook.
- Use micro-moments to their full potential. According to Google’s user behavior research, the average person’s micro-moments are heavily dominated with mobile. Ninety-six percent of customers reach for their smartphones when they need to find something online, or simply want to distract themselves. Here is where your SMM campaign needs to grab their attention.
In the mobile-first world, if your site is not optimized (aka convenient) to mobile users, you will undoubtedly lose a significant chunk of your market share to competitors. Mobile marketing is a big deal nowadays (and will become even more important in near future), and can easily make or break your business.
Set a high bar for your mobile marketing and be specific about enhancing and polishing every part of it — from mobile SEO and content to paid marketing, social media and usability. Every little bit helps, and makes your site more mobile- and hence, user-friendly, which will not go unnoticed by the Google gods.