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How to Dominate Mobile Marketing

Mobile internet use will overtake desktop in just a few years. Here are five ways to make sure you don't get left behind.
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By the end of 2013, there will be 1.4 billion smartphones worldwide. This staggering number helps to justify why mobile search will outpace desktop search in a few short years.

Marketers must ask themselves: Is my website mobile-optimized in order to capture web traffic and convert those searchers into customers? Working with Justin Garvin, Rise Interactive's senior SEO strategist, we've outlined some key tactics for mobile marketing domination:

Use responsive web design

There was once a debate between the marketing and IT departments: Should we develop a mobile site or go with responsive design? Google and Bing's official recommendation is a responsive web design, which ensures that your website adapts according to the size of the browser. This allows developers to customize different layouts and designs based on different browser sizes. For example, a responsive site can render a unique layout for a smartphone versus a tablet.

Instead of managing mobile and desktop URLs, manage a single site. Mobile-specific sites use a one-size-fits-all approach, serving the same site and content to a tablet user as a mobile phone user. Not only will a responsive site help you drive more conversions, but it will unify your SEO strategy rather than managing distinct SEO strategies for two similar, yet different sites.

Responsive sites will often result in a shorter load-time for users, as search engines will need to detect and redirect a mobile-specific site before it renders the content. You will also be able to build links to a single URL rather than building links to a desktop URL (e.g. www.example.com) as well as a mobile URL (e.g. m.example.com).

If you prefer a separate mobile site, make sure you implement a proper SEO strategy, which includes appropriate redirects, mobile sitemaps, and optimizations.

Exploit the difference in keyword length

Mobile users tend to use short-tail queries to find what they are looking for more often than desktop users. If you are creating a specific mobile site rather than a responsive website, choose short-tail keywords when optimizing your pages. However, if your site uses a responsive design, you can target both long-tail and short-tail keywords for both types of searchers since you can customize layouts and blocks of content for different queries.

Although responsive design is better from an overall digital marketing perspective, there is a downside: the ability to customize your SEO strategy. This is a key advantage for marketers with a separate mobile site. Since search queries are often different on mobile and desktop searches, marketers can more readily optimize their separate mobile sites for short-tail, mobile-friendly queries.

Shorten the path to purchase

When optimizing for mobile users, it is important to understand how those users become customers. Short conversion paths are favorable to mobile searchers, so shorten the amount of steps they must take to make a purchase. Adjust your sign-in, sign-up, download, or shopping cart experience to ensure you do not lose customers along the way.

Mobile bounce rates and abandonments are typically higher than desktop, so creating shorter lead forms can boost conversions. Another helpful tip is to break down a lead form into two separate screens. If you need to ask for information in multiple fields, that'll make the form seem more manageable to the mobile user.

Think local

According to a study by comScore, nearly half of smartphone and tablet owners are using apps to find local information. Since many people are searching with their mobile phones while they are on the go, adjust the content in your site's re-sized blocks to target local queries. Mobile users also require immediate satisfaction, so craft your landing pages accordingly, with shorter conversion cycles and lead forms.

Let data inform decisions

While most marketers understand the importance of mobile marketing, they undervalue the significance of analytics. As a digital marketing agency, analytics is the DNA of our campaign implementation and strategy.

The key is to test, analyze, optimize, and repeat. Use data, not instinct, to uncover the insights needed to increase mobile performance.To take your marketing strategy to the next level, consider tools such as Google and Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to create more efficient reports.

As stated before, mobile search will dominate desktop very soon. Make sure that optimizing for mobile is a part of your marketing strategy. While making your site mobile-friendly can be an investment, taking the time to do so will ensure that your company is able to compete in the digital space. So remember to optimize, test and gain insights to increase visits, conversions and your bottom line.

Last updated: Aug 23, 2013

JON MORRIS | Columnist | Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive

Jon Morris is the founder and CEO of Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency in Chicago which specializes in digital media and analytics.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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