By Michael Hewitt.
he mobile search landscape has changed immensely in recent years, transforming how consumers engage with brands and discover new products. But the change of pace has left some brands struggling to keep up, wondering just how hard mobile is working for them, and whether their brand proposition is really translating to the small screen.
It has led to many making what are, in 2017, some fundamental mistakes with mobile strategy. Here are six of the biggest:
The ‘m-dot’ site
When the ‘mobilegeddon’ update first reared its head in 2015, it unsurprisingly caused panic in the digital ecommerce sector. This was an update that threatened to dramatically harm the web visibility of those brands that weren’t delivering a mobile-friendly experience, and it was an update that would kick-in not very long after it was first announced – certainly not long enough to align all of the necessary stakeholders and plan, build, test and launch a completely new site.
Many brands responded by launching what became known as m-dot websites – essentially copies of a desktop website that were tweaked for mobile and appear on an m.website.com or mobile.website.com sub-domain. It was a quick-fix solution, allowing brands to meet the criteria that would see them becoming a ‘mobilegeddon’ victim, but avoided the need to go through a lengthy web redesign and build.
But now Google is warning brands that it wants to see the end of the m-dot, claiming that the mobile-first index may not index m-dot sites effectively. Throw in the increased risk of broken redirects and duplicate content that come with an m-dot, and the time really has come for you call in the designers and go responsive.
Being deaf to voice search
In June 2017, a Think with Google survey found that 57% of people would use voice search more if it recognised more complex commands, and 58% of respondents said they would like more detailed results when using search.
Think about how you can make your existing keyword strategy more conversational, to reflect the way in which your audiences are going to interact verbally with their mobile or smart devices – particularly if your site features a lot of ‘how to’ content on its site. A desktop search for ‘flights to London’ could very easily become ‘when is the next flight to London?’ or ‘what is the cheapest way to get to London tomorrow morning’. Could your current content answer that query?
Not thinking about your long-term app strategy
A survey by Localytics found that 60% of people who download an application become inactive within 30 days, whilst data from Quattra shows that the daily active user rate drops 77% the first three days after an app is installed on a device.
Mobile apps are not, in themselves, a flawed marketing channel but if you are going to invest in developing and maintaining one, think carefully about how you are going to avoid the graveyard of unused apps that lies on practically every smartphone in existence.
Is your app simply an extension of your mobile site? If so, then think about why you actually need one. What does your app offer that your users can’t get or would find more difficult to get elsewhere?
Think about how you would use your app to re-engage and reconnect with your audiences throughout the customer journey, using your data to provide personalised messages and push notifications that will resonate with them. Just remember not to over-use tactics like push notifications as they can get irritating (particularly if you are just pushing offers and sales messages).
Bombarding users with ads
Speaking of things that are irritating, ads on mobile. Obtrusive adverts are annoying on any platform, but on the small screen of mobile, they are even more of a user experience faux-pas.
If you are advertising to consumers on mobile, make sure that it isn’t your brand that is frustrating what should be a seamless and enjoyable user experience with an intrusive and impossible to dismiss pop-up or interstitial. Not only does it frustrate users and harm the brand, it can also harm your organic search visibility.
Ignoring your audiences’ neighbourhood
So-called ‘near me’ searches are growing at a rate of 130% per year, and 88% of these searches are made using a mobile device, claims Google.
This trend is being driven by the way in which the customer journey is becoming much more integrated between desktop, mobile and offline. Consumers are turning to their devices for ‘quick reference’ queries – local shops and restaurants for example – and then making purchasing decisions across any number of channels based on that information.
It means that brands, particularly those with an offline presence, need to really think about how they are optimising their online presence for ‘near me’ searches, and thinking about the content that they serve to these audiences that works on a localised level, and could drive an in-store visit.
Consider the importance of implicit search variables, such as location, time, device, transport and previous search history, and ensure that you have content that can serve as many combinations of those searches as possible.
Failing to close the loop
Cross-device tracking remains one of the biggest challenges for marketers, as multiple devices and multiple communications channels converge to create a much more complicated customer journey.
Google is working hard to close this loop as much as possible, with Google Attribution rolling out to provide much better integration between AdWords and Analytics, and it is continuing to use user data and search history to ‘join up the dots’ as much as possible.
Different organisations will have different approaches and different models to understand how different devices and channels contribute to the overall buying journey, and the model that you adopt will ultimately depend on your brand objectives for your mobile strategy. However, if you are using a last click model of attribution, then it is highly likely that you are either under or over-estimating the value of mobile, depending on the nature of the brand and the product.