Here is Part 3 of our series on What’s Coming Up In 2012, where some of our favorite contributors answered the question:
Question: How should marketers approach mobile in 2012, and what should be considered before jumping into it?
David Rodnitzky — The challenge with mobile is two-fold. First, if you felt constrained by the space given to you in a paid search ad on desktop search, you have even less real estate on mobile search. So you need to figure out a way to communicate even more quickly than you already do! Second, is mobile a channel for brand awareness or direct response? If you are selling a $5,000 trip to Thailand, should you expect ROI from a mobile PPC campaign? I don’t think marketers have really set these sorts of expectations for many forms of mobile marketing yet.
Ben Leftwich — Most importantly, all companies should have a mobile-optimized site. Period. If appropriate, consider investing in a dedicated mobile app as well, but only after you have spent the time to optimize your main site for mobile and tablets. Don’t pay for any mobile traffic to your site (with PPC, mobile display) until you have a mobile site. When you do pay for traffic, make sure your mobile conversion process is a simple and streamlined as possible — if you have 5 steps to check out on a desktop, slim it down to 1 or 2 on mobile.
Jeff Quipp — Make sure your website(s) are optimized for mobile! Creating mobile-friendly versions of most websites is not expensive, so no excuses. Make sure the most pertinent information is front and center, as is contact information (location and phone number).
Guy Hill — I’ll continue my rant here… Again, as an SEM professional, mobile (as a function of PPC), is a distraction 99% of the time. It belongs in the category of “sexy,” but is not positively correlated to the bottom line. Just because you love your iPhone doesn’t mean that mobile traffic is good for your clients. Don’t take my word for it, test for yourself.
That’s the right approach (testing), and testing is classic, conservative, successful — not new at all. To be specific, if you’re not already segmenting your campaigns by “device” (keeping mobile out of your “desktop/laptop” campaigns), you should. If you haven’t done this, do a quick report by device and look at your CPA by device type. When you see that your mobile traffic consistently lowers your ROI, the answer to mobile is to get away from it. If you are segmenting your mobile traffic into separate campaigns, and you can see distinct, mobile-only CPAs, as you optimize, I bet you get rid of the traffic. Mobile’s not new. It’s a failed tactic — for many reasons — from the last couple of years. Dig in yourself — the stats will tell the story better than I can.
Mobile gets messier at the level of the website, as companies are splitting development time across desktop versus mobile versions of the website. Instead of fixing challenges on one consistent site, they’re repeating mistakes across two sites, trying to support mobile users that are much less likely to convert in a meaningful way. If there’s an app version of the site, now development is split three ways. It’s good money after bad.
There are exceptions to the “avoid mobile” mandate. Super-local-focused business (like restaurants and some retail) should have mobile strategies in many cases. But while those opportunities are real, these types of companies are only a fraction of businesses on the web. Most of us have enough to do. Unless you have endless resources, I’d recommend you cross mobile off the list (other than making sure you take this traffic out of you PPC campaigns!).
Christian Arno — With smartphones expected to outsell PCs this year, marketers can’t afford to ignore them. Companies should ensure their websites are optimized for mobile phones, or consider developing specially tailored mobile sites.
Rebecca Appleton — Mobile should be approached as a whole new medium, not just an extension of an existing website or campaign. Design and content needs to be really thought about — less text, fewer graphics, easier navigation. You have to get your point across and encourage a call to action on a smaller space, on a smaller screen, and likely when there are other distractions to contend with such as other passengers chatting on the commute. Mobile content really needs to step up and be a very strong, persuasive representation of your brand.
Part 1 of this series is on social media and Part 2 on paid search.