You might think we’ve turned over every possible stone when it comes to online marketing, but Verizon’s recent bid to purchase AOL in order to obtain its mobile video and advertising technology illustrates that the world of mobile advertising may still be the "Wild West" of Internet marketing.
“In many ways, 2015 for mobile advertising is like 1995 for the Web itself,” says Jeff Sauro, author of Customer Analytics for Dummies and founder of MeasuringU, which measures the ease-of-use of websites and the mobile experience. “Back then, while some companies started shifting ad dollars to online advertising, others dismissed Internet advertising as a passing fad,” Sauro says. “Of course, the latter companies missed out or were late to the party.”
Good Reasons to Try Mobile Advertising
Mobile usage among millennials and consumers in general is rising, notes Terry Murphy, president of SmartLink Internet Strategies, Inc. “Reaching for a smartphone and tablet before a desktop computer to look for something online has become commonplace across all age bands,” he says. “Google recently announced that mobile search has for the first time surpassed desktop searches.”
Give it five more years, and "mobile search" will simply be referred to as "search," adds Kirill Storch, CEO of Electric Web, which specializes in mobile app and website development and online revenue generation through e-commerce.
“Approximately 64 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and this number is only predicted to grow,” Storch says. “The conversion rates from mobile campaigns far exceed the paltry ROIs that desktop advertisers have become accustomed to. According to a study by Google, mobile-only searches are [about six times] more likely to result in a phone call to the business than [PC-only] searches, and 73 percent of all mobile searches result in a commercially relevant action. The typical costs for running the ads are far lower and there is less competition.”
Businesses That Should Consider Mobile Advertising
Not every small-business owner needs to take the mobile advertising plunge, but if you’re targeting consumers under 50, Murphy believes you should try it. “With geofencing, an advertiser can solicit customers right out from under its competitors," he says. "This underscores the need for most companies to have a robust mobile presence.”
Any small business that has experienced even marginal success with desktop ads should jump into the mobile ad space to realize a significant increase in ROI, adds Storch. “If you are a new business that hasn’t done any online advertising, you should absolutely try it.”
Tips for Effective Mobile Advertising
Keep these tips in mind when taking the mobile ad plunge.
- Develop an eye-catching, highly functional website. “Gone are the days when you could set up a cheap mobile template and expect high ROIs,” Storch says. “Think of a new customer walking into your front office. You want the person to see an elegant, visually impressive landing page. In addition to looking incredible, the landing page should also be highly mobile optimized.” Also make your mobile site easy to read, adds Murphy: “Think of it as a mini-billboard where an economy of words is of the utmost importance. Use a clean, legible font.”
- Don’t be flashy. People also use their phones to call and text, so avoid being intrusive. “While you want to present your message at the right time in their decision process, you don't want to interfere with their tasks and goals,” Sauro says. “If ads take over the screen and get in the way of finding information or making a reservation, you’ll gain detractors rather than customers.”
- Make the process frictionless and seamless. “Ensure you have prominent clicks to call, email, map and purchase,” Murphy says. “Nothing is more annoying than scrolling and clicking all over a website to find the Contact Us page. Millennials expect a certain level of interactive functionality and user experience and will move on to your competitor if they don’t get connectivity.”
- Engage and personalize the experience. Jaanuu, Inc., which creates fashionable medical apparel, is “laser focused on mobile advertising that is not only engaging but personalized," says Shaan Sethi, the company's co-founder and CEO. “This type of mobile advertising has become a critical enabler in achieving top of the funnel awareness while driving attractive order level economics."
- Try to test ads regularly. “For text-based ads, such as those on Google's mobile search, write the ads fairly restrictively so you don't run into the problem of getting too many clicks from folks who are not interested in actually purchasing your product or service,” Storch says. “On a more complex ad platform, test numerous ‘creatives’ or image-based ads. Generally, animated GIFs convert better, but even this is not a cardinal rule. Retest ads often. Even experienced marketers can take up to a year to unlock the perfect combination that maximizes ROI.” Sethi agrees: “Use a portfolio of tactics to reach the customer via multiple touch points; test and learn with sophisticated analytics and never ignore data.”
Customers aren’t yet making a great number of purchases online, but they do a lot of pre-shopping on their smartphones, so you want to be there to make a good first impression when they browse while standing in line at the supermarket. Once they hit their desktop to make a purchase, it’s often too late.
“Mobile is an exciting new area of advertising, and ad revenues are practically doubling year-over-year,” Storch says. “The uptrend won't last forever, though. The smartphone market already shows signs of cooling in mature markets like Europe and North America. The next few years represent a massive opportunity for small businesses to advertise in this space, but the opportunity is time limited. Once mobile search becomes more accepted as the norm, ad ROIs will stabilize and begin to look like their desktop predecessors, so take the chance while it’s available.”
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