Online marketing now smarter and mobile

Posted on March 22, 2011

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Many many years ago we only had an option of hooking on to the bulky PC or CPU and viewed the World Wide Web through the monitor. Then we had the option to move on to the laptop and website makers had to simply adjust their resolution. But when the browser entered the mobile phones, website developers had a completely new challenge. And today with Smartphones like iPhone and Blackberry, not to mention the iPod and iPad web marketing is a whole new ball game.

When you are spending on a search ad or on Google maps or on a banner ad, it is going to show up in different ways on different screens, and so commonly a Smartphone screen now. Thus, every marketer has to keep this factor in mind when strategizing respective media. Think about it. When you market online, the speed and the mediums through which you would reach a visitor have expanded.

A fellow blogger (at 1568.theagentmagnet.com) reveals that there are currently over 5 million cell phones in the world while there are 1.8 million computers. Smartphone use as a whole rose 8 percent over the three-month period that ended in October 2010. Based on ComScore’s findings, there are now more than 65 million such devices in the United States. Look for that number to continue to shoot skyward as smartphone prices continue to drop over the next few months. In the smartphone race iPhone and Android rule as the two most popular smartphones (I would like to add Blackberry to this list and contest its space in the top 2); the new mobile marketing has a potential for reaching at least 3 times as many people world-wide than computer marketing, and yet marketing via smartphones has only barely begun.

My aim in this blog post is to present to you the new opportunities and amendments that smart phones bring to online marketers.

1-       More exposure, more avenues and more reach
Be it email, social media or search, the success rate simply races up through smart phones. Let’s start with email. If say, commonly the open rate is 15% on computers, there is a 99% open rate on smart phones. Of course every message that you get on your BB or iPhone is read; No one would even think of avoiding it. People use their smartphones as “take-along” miniature computers to gather information.  Then one is constantly tweeting or facebooking; it could be about how they availed the latest offer at hotels.com or why JetBlue sucks in their service. All the more reason to spend advertising dollars on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget watching videos on YouTube on smartphones is most preferred rather than computers.

2-      Strengthen local search marketing

Undoubtedly, Google leads the field in Mobile Search.  Columnist Brad Simon (southernjewelrynews.com) in one of his articles, reports, “When someone performs a search on a Smart Phone, Google takes the location of the cell phone tower the phone is connected to, along with the GPS data on the phone and customizes the search data for that Local Geographical Area.  Google utilizes the information in their Maps listing for these searches.  For any local business to be considered, they MUST have claimed their Google Local Business Listing and have as much data as possible in their listing.” What a great insight that is Mr. Simon! I call this the GPS of online marketing.

3-      Websites must now have a mobile version too

Most retailers now believe that it is important to have a Mobile Search Friendly website. Simon reports that mobile users are likely to abandon websites that are not optimized for mobile phones. For example, 45% of mobile searchers left a website because it would not load, and 38% left because it was not developed specifically for smart phone users. Most retailers and brands like Hershey’s, Bridgestone Tire, Dove, Wallstreet Journal and Pfizer, all have a mobile version now.

Newyorktines.com recently is going a step further by creating exclusive content for digital audience and monetizing on it as well. The company’s flagship newspaper announced that its new metering system and paid mobile applications will launch globally March 28. A smart phone app package was made available in Canada recently. Employing a system similar to the one that has been used successfully for years by The Financial Times, NYTimes.com will allow visitors to read up to 20 articles a month without paying. Once they go over the limit, they’ll be charged $15 a month for access to the website and to the New York Times‘ smart phone app. A $20 monthly payment buys access to the website and the paper’s tablet app, while $35 is good for complete digital access. Thanks crainsnewyork.com for this information. It shows how companies are realizing the power of online targeting and taking mobile apps to the next level.

4-    Google expands its AdWords program to facilitate mobile
Responding to the increased mobile search, Google expands its AdWords program onto mobile devices, and now Google has decided to help advertisers make the most of mobile ads and keywords.  Publishers would now be able to show up much larger ads on their mobile sites to visitors using smartphones as compared to how previously only small text and image ads could be displayed. The enhancement assists Google to insert advertisements next to search results, into the iPhone Maps app. Local iPhone map searches will also now show sponsored listings in the view and list modes of the Maps app (/news.ebrandz.com/) This brings me to my next observation that mobile apps are other avenues that benefit search marketers. Google search itself is an app on iPhone, Blackberry and androids.

5-    Shopping smart, shopping mobile

As per internetretailer.com, Google searches conducted on mobile phones centering on shopping-related keywords grew more than 300% from January 2010 to January 2011, Google Inc. reports in a new study on holiday shopping. They grew more than 150% from January 2009 to January 2010. When it comes to shopping activities, Smartphone-toting consumers used their handsets in many ways. Google finds that 27% used their smartphones to compare prices, 23% to read customer reviews, 21% to read general product information, 21% to locate a store, 20% to find promotions or coupons, and 16% to check in-store availability of an item, 14% to scan a bar code, and 10% to watch a product video. In the report Goggle affirms that “mobile emerged as a holiday shopping assistant and purchase channel.” Social Media is nor far behind as a purchasing channel. Don’t we all refer to Facebook and Twitter for product and service reviews or advice?  Jon Schepke, President of SIM Partners, a Chicago-based interactive marketing agency, shares the same view as he refers to consumer trip planning behavior, “Those who move quickly to develop engaging and consumer-friendly mobile applications will gain a significant advantage in a very competitive marketplace,” on ehotelier.com.

6-    Click-to-call ads
When you are searching on your Smartphone, you will notice there is an option to call business directly in the search results, rather than actually visit the website. Users can click the number to call just as easily as clicking to visit the website. Again an option that Google creates responding to mobile search behavior. And markets are designing their ads keeping this factor in mind. Run a search on Pizza Hut on your Smartphone and immediately in the results you will see an option to order by phone.  Not only that, Pizza Hut gives you the option to order from your Facebook accounts.

 I ran a search for Domino’s and they had a mobile.dominos.com.  So does Wallstreet journal and Amazon.com. “What’s new?”, I say I reckon that smart phones will lead to the fall of sms marketing. I also foresee marketers stepping into Blackberry messenger, MSN messenger and whatsapp someday by pushing their ads into conversations or just treating it as Blue Tooth Marketing.  Who knows there might even be an option to search from theses applications!

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