Why Mobile Visitors are Different

Like many other companies, you’ve probably noticed that the percentage of mobile users coming to your website is climbing. According to a 2014 survey by Marin Software, mobile searches will drive half of all paid search clicks by the end of 2015. You’ve been doing all the right things: keyword research, content marketing, social media outreach, getting backlinks … and yet when you dig into analytics, mobile visitors are not engaging as well as desktop users.

That’s because mobile users and PC users fit different profiles.

To gain more traction from this audience, be proactive and reassess your SEO strategy. Here are some key differences to keep in mind as you plan for mobile SEO optimization and audience engagement:

Mobile search is local search

Mobile device users tend to search while away from home or office (i.e. not wired or on wi-fi), so it’s also likely that they are out looking for a product or service with some urgency. In fact, 50% of mobile search queries have “local intent” of wanting to do, see, buy, or eat near their location. In contrast, only 20% of desktop searches include local intent. 

Mobile search is time sensitive

Mobile search tends to be more impulse-driven than desktop search. Most mobile searches coincide with peak shopping hours, commuting hours, and downtime/after work hours. Quite often the trigger is something seen on TV, a newspaper/magazine, or a sign or object on the street. When triggered by immediate need, the search tends to be more urgent because the user needs to resolve something right away.

Whether the search is from impulse or from need, businesses have a shorter window of opportunity to capitalize on that need. The mobile user is under pressure to resolve a problem quickly: between appointments, while commuting, or in the middle of doing something else. This could be one reason why 55% of mobile searchers convert (store visit, phone call or purchase) within an hour of making a mobile search.

Mobile searches are often in-store

A noteworthy fact is that shopping and food-related search queries are twice as likely to happen within a store. Mobile users search while in-store to check reviews, find more product information, and compare prices. Research from the Columbia Business School states that that 70% of shoppers, across all age groups, admit to “showrooming”. At the same time, more than 50% are more likely to buy a product in-store after using their mobile devices to read reviews or product information from trusted sources. Furthermore, mobile visitors are almost as likely to use the store’s own website (70%) as some other source (75%).

Mobile device features offer more engagement

After searching for a brand, product, or service, a smartphone user has more options than a deskbound user for interacting with the results. The mobile user can:

  • make a purchase
  • use social media
  • email information
  • collect/redeem a coupon
  • make a phone call
  • navigate to the store location
  • use the phone as an electronic ticket

So. How Can You Capitalize on This Knowledge?

A mobile visitor to your site is most likely to be on-the-go, away from their home or office, and trying to make a decision in a short timeframe. How can you capture their attention most effectively? How can you smooth the path to conversion?

  • Get found: make sure your profile is current and accurate on directories such as Google Places, Bing Places, Yahoo Business, and Yellow Pages. If your business operates in multiple locations, use a “find the nearest” locator. Your website should state very clearly the type of business you have, the location and area, contact details, business hours, availability of stock or seating. Include a map.
  • Develop a strategy to target mobile visitors. Develop a profile for the mobile visitor. What are the most probable motivations of mobile users who are searching while on-the-go, near your store/business, and in need of information? Plan your keywords, content, and call-to-actions (CTAs) accordingly. This helps increase the chances that the visitor will find your business, meet his needs, and meet your conversion goals – which may be a store visit, a phone call, registration, or purchase.
  • Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Mobile phones are handy in many ways, less so in others. Small screen size and keyboard constrain viewing and typing. 58% of smartphone use is over a cellular carrier network, which means that erratic network access and bandwidth costs restrict speed and convenience. Search engines want to provide a positive user experience, so if your website does not conform to Google recommendations for mobile-friendliness, your site won’t rank well. Long page load times, use of Flash, or force users to get past pop-up ads will degrade your rank. For some tips on how to avoid these problems, read How to Make Your Website Friendly for Mobile Commerce.   
  • Assess your keywords and keep them short. Mobile users type less, so they will search using shorter key phrases. What are the most likely abbreviated keywords they might use? Conduct keyword analysis specifically for mobile.
  • Keep your content short and focused. Create content that’s quick to read, informative, and presented in a mobile-friendly format. Offer incentives such as e-coupons or time-limited offers to entice them into your store.
  • Take advantage of mobile device features: Assess your website and look for opportunities to build in convenient CTAs that take advantage of device functions such as: click-to-call, click-to-be-called-back, click-to-email, click-to-find on a map, mobile barcode scanner, or links to social media. Offer incentives and promotions via e-coupons. Provide a Call button – 61% of mobile searches result in a phone call.
  • Confront showrooming. If you’re a retailer, treat in-store mobile search as an opportunity. Offer free Wi-Fi if the customer signs up for your newsletter. Make sure your own product site contains a lot of information. Use QR codes to link customers to product information on your website. If you are concerned about price comparison, offer to match any online price.

Mobile users represent an increasingly important customer segment. Understanding that they behave in distinctly different ways than desktop users is the first step to developing an effective search marketing strategy for mobile. The P.A.C.E. framework for digital marketing is the methodology we use to help clients develop digital marketing programs that target both desktop and mobile audiences. Download the P.A.C.E. eBook and get started.