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Mobile-First Must Be More Than a Marketing Buzzword

Mobile-First Must Be More Than a Marketing Buzzword

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We've reached peak mobile, entering a world where the use of desktop, laptop and even tablet is on the decline and  “smartphones are driving all growth in US web traffic," according to data published this past September by Adobe Analytics. And it's not even a close race. In June 2017, site visits generated by users on laptops were down 30%, relative to January 2015, but mobile visits were up nearly 70% and trending higher.

Mobile marketing can no longer be treated as a nice-to-have or a last-minute add-on in your marketing strategy. If you haven't already, it's time to adopt a mobile-first digital marketing strategy.

So, what needs to be done? Let's explore that today.

Rethinking mobile's role in the sales process.

Not so long ago, a customer might have looked at your website to find out if you carried this or that item, called you on his mobile phone to see if you had it in stock, then driven to your store to make the purchase.

Now, you're lucky if your customer ever graces your actual storefront.

Most customers these days are completing the entire purchase process from their smartphones — many from dedicated apps. They're shopping, reading reviews and checking competitors' pricing, searching for coupon codes and deals, then clicking buy.

If they do happen into your brick-and-mortar location, they're pulling out their phones in the store to find out whether you're offering them a good deal, and they're moving on if you're not.

The smartphone, like it or not, has taken on the role of indispensable advisor. It's the shopper's consigliere — always there, always in the know, arming the consumer with information that can make or break any transaction.

Understand what #Mobilegeddon means for your web hits.

Remember the days when your regular web portal was your mobile sites' older, bigger brother, and search engines deferred to it? No more.

Last year, Google announced that it was flipping its algorithm to prioritize mobile-optimized sites. What does this move toward mobile-first indexing mean for you?

"If you have a page that shows some specific content to desktop-based visitors, but excludes content for mobile visitors, you may notice a change in results because of the mobile-specific content," advised HubSpot's Jeffrey Vocell. "You should consider what, and how much content, to add to your mobile version."

That means you need mobile-optimized content, post-haste:

  • Short videos (which are, in turn, strongly weighted in Facebook and Twitter's feed algorithms)
  • SEO-optimized inbound blogs with layouts that account for smaller screens
  • Design that proceeds from a mobile-up (rather than a desktop-down) philosophy
  • Reduced presence, or elimination, of interstitials (pop-ups, redirect ads, etc.), which Google penalizes in its search rankings
  • Lightning-quick load times (this is, arguably, the most important characteristic)

Google strongly prefers responsive design — sites that deliver the same HTML code to the same URL, but automatically adapt their displays to optimize across users' various mobile platforms.

If you can't redo your mobile sites to align with Google's preference for responsive design, you could still garner additional search traction through dynamic serving, which delivers different HTML frameworks to the same URL, based on the device that pings the site.

The engine also gives heavier consideration to sites that feature Accelerated Mobile Pages, also known as AMP, which some digital experts have call "Diet HTML." AMP can dramatically improve your mobile sites' load times, but it might require some streamlining of your digital content.

The key takeaways here?

Whatever your new, mobile-ready content looks and feels like, it needs to populate reliably and fast, and it should do so whether your consumer is surfing on her home wireless network, or stuck out in the boonies and crawling on 3G.

Forget the other engines. Focus on Big G.

So, Google flipped its algorithm. So what? It's not the only search engine out there, is it?

Think again. Google is a de facto search monopoly, accounting for 93% of all search-initiated mobile traffic (by comparison, Yahoo and Microsoft's competing Bing are both complete busts, driving less than 2%).

Baidu, China's dominant search engine, is ticking up and has become something of a darling for investors looking to score on the Next Big Thing, but it still only accounts for a little less than 3% of search-derived mobile web traffic.

Like it or not, for the immediate and foreseeable future, the folks in Mountain View are calling all the shots. And companies who want to be successful need to acquiesce to their design preferences.

Mobile devices as decision-makers?

We've all been here: we're in a part of town we're relatively unfamiliar with, on our way to a meeting, and want a morning pick-me-up.

So, at the next red light, we pull out our smartphone, Google "coffee near me," look at the first search result and tap "get directions" to the closest Dunkin Donuts, because the independent coffeehouse down the street hasn't the resources to play to the search algorithm. 

Google calls these "micro-moments": the tiny, but increasingly frequent snap decisions that define consumers' aggregate behaviors.

If you extrapolate a bit, this is a potentially challenging social trend. We're reaching the point at which the search engine tells us what to do, and we follow its instructions without further interrogation.

But, if you're in business, let the philosophers and neurologists debate whether this new, search-driven lifestyle is good or bad for humanity. In the meantime, to stay ahead of the competition, you should learn as much as you can about micro-moments, and optimize your digital marketing strategy for them.

Mobile-first isn't a trend. It's the new norm.

If you haven't been operating on mobile-first footing, it's time to reexamine your stance.

In an upcoming blog, we'll discuss the particular "hows" that you could employ to increase your company's mobile marketing fortunes, so keep checking in to stay informed with our latest digital marketing and lead gen insights.

If you're ready now to improve your traffic, click here to contact our team of digital marketing experts.

Tell us your needs and your pain points. We're listening, we're responsive and we're eager. Let's develop your company's new, mobile-first marketing plan together!

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