Cater to the Mobile Marketplace

Far more than a fad, mobile technology marks a fundamental shift in how we communicate, find information, and shop. By 2014, the number of mobile Web users is projected to overtake the number of desktop users.

You may already be witnessing this macro shift with your Web site. How much of your Web traffic today comes from mobile devices? Five percent? Twenty percent? No matter what the exact figure is, you can bet it will be higher in the future.

These mobile users have specific needs that must be considered in your marketing and e-commerce plans. If you haven't started already, it's time to cater to this mobile population and mobilize your email, search, and social media strategies.

Mobile Search: Give Them What They're Looking For

Desktop search may still dominate the overall search market, but mobile search represents a new frontier. It is widely accepted that 10 percent to 15 percent of searches today are from mobile devices.

Whether you're running a multimillion-dollar pay-per-click campaign on AdWords or optimizing for organic search traffic and inbound leads, here are a few things you should know about the areas where desktop and mobile differ.

  • Locality: People on mobile devices are seeking things around them; anywhere between 20 percent and 53 percent of mobile searches have a local intent. If you've got local content or content that can be localized, optimize it for mobile.
  • Task-focused: The average keyword mobile search on Android and iPhone is roughly double the average length of a desktop search. Why? Because mobile searchers are task-focused and seeking specific things. When presenting information as the result of a search, offer more specific information to your mobile users.
  • Time of day: Google reports that mobile search volumes increase throughout the day and peak at 8 or 9 p.m., while desktop search volume mirrors hours spent at work.
  • Spelling mistakes: Not surprisingly, mobile searchers are more prone to misspellings than desktop searchers. Including common misspellings in your SEO campaigns can be a great, untapped source of new traffic.

Before You Hit Send...

ComScore found that while Web-based email declined significantly throughout 2010, mobile email surged 36 percent from the prior year. To cater to these mobile users, follow the best mobile usability and accessibility rules:

  • Short wins. Smartphone screens are small, and each line is valuable. Be brief and get your message as high up in the email as possible.
  • Focus on the subject and sender name. In the mobile world, there's little or no preview pane to see the message body. As a result, a message's subject and sender name take center stage. Choose a recognizable name for the "from" field and use your subject line as effectively as possible (keep it less than 30 characters).
  • Consider plain text. As marketers, we want to make things pretty and opt for HTML. However, this practice falls flat in many situations on mobile devices. Consider sending plain text email, particularly for anything that must get into people's hands, such as account activations, password retrievals, and alerts.

Be Social-Savvy

A comScore report found that 72 million Americans accessed social media from their mobile devices during the month of August 2011 alone. Even more telling is the fact that 50 percent of these users are social networking on a daily basis from their mobile devices. When it comes to incorporating mobile into your social strategy, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Mobile Web: While both Facebook and Twitter have apps for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, the majority of their mobile traffic comes from a mobile browser rather than a device-specific app. Looking at some sample numbers for Facebook, 57 percent of mobile posts are made from the mobile Web site (m.facebook.com), while all apps combined contribute 43 percent.

Women rule social media: With the exception of LinkedIn, women are the dominant users of the top 10 social networks on both mobile and desktop. Give women credible things to care about and share with their broader social network.

Help people share the love: A clean and consistent URL structure will help people share your links across platforms. Don't underestimate the importance of client detection technology, which intelligently serves up a mobile site to mobile users and a desktop site to desktop users.

Get Started Now

If paid/organic search traffic, social networks, and email marketing are key drivers of your business today, you need to be serving mobile devices. Whether you're ready or not, consumers are already connecting to you via mobile today, and the numbers will continue to grow.

Igor Faletski is the CEO of Mobify (www.mobify.com), a Web platform that optimizes sites for mobile, powering a network of more than 18,000 sites.

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