While marketers realise the importance of mobile, many of them have yet to catch up with consumer expectations, or realise how SEO and mobile work together.
Everybody knows that it’s the year of mobile (again). Everybody knows that smartphones are behind more and more internet searches. But still, not everybody connects the two.
This winter, experience management platform Sitecore and UK market research company Vanson Bourne surveyed brand marketers all over the world about mobile marketing. While 97% of them agreed that a good mobile experience impacts customer loyalty, only 59% have a solid mobile strategy in place.
Part of that is because purchases haven’t caught up just yet. According to Google research, mobile commerce is particularly prevalent in countries like Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, where at least 60% of consumers regularly make purchases with their phones. But in many Western nations – including the US, the UK, Belgium, France and Germany – that figure is less than 10.
Nick Wilsdon, lead SEO for the Vodafone Group, believes there’s a symbiotic relationship between mobile SEO and mobile commerce. He believes that marketers excelling at the former will see more of the latter.
“[Too many marketers] haven’t been thinking about their site through mobile and not testing it enough. They don’t function in mobile; the buttons are too small,” said Wilsdon at Shift London. “The mobile web is broken right now. Very few people get it right, but there are a few champions in the area.”
1. Mobile and SEO
Last year, Google famously changed up its algorithm to favour mobile-friendly sites. The search giant has since launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative, which was designed to speed up mobile content.
More than three-quarters of people will abandon a site that doesn’t load in five seconds; 40% will X out after three. “Mobilegeddon” was born with consumer behavior in mind and brands that don’t follow along are penalised.
Still, 39% of the marketers surveyed by Sitecore don’t have mobile optimised websites in place. Wilsdon doesn’t believe they realise the kind of effect SEO has on mobile.
“This impacts massively on SEO because Google will give us a ranking benefit for having a fast website. We’ll then get more exposure and then get more traffic,” said Wilsdon. “It dovetails with everything that happens in performance.”
2. The ascension of apps
In the UK and Ireland, the Domino’s app now accounts for nearly half its orders. Wilsdon believes that case study is something marketers should aspire to, as mobile internet activity is increasingly happening in-app.
As a result, Google has been pushing its fast-loading Progressive Web Apps concept for most of the last year.
“We can cache parts of it and do push notifications, and basically make our webpages act more like apps,” said Wilsdon.
Analyzing data from 52 million Android smartphones, Paris-based Cheetah Ad Platform compared app engagement from around the world. Engaging with an average of 53 apps each month, Brazilians have the world’s most competitive app market.
For marketers looking to replicate Brazil’s app engagement, Wilsdon recommends smart app banners, which bridge the gap between the mobile web and apps; and native code, which bridges the gap between marketers and consumers.
“Native code actually interacts with your phone and knows whether you have the app installed already. This goes into app deep linking, which is a massive game changer for the web, which we can now link to specific functionality in apps from SERPs,” he said.
3. The seamless factor
Vodafone pushes Indian consumers toward the app when it’s time to pay their bills. That reduces the number of steps in process, as the app already knows who they are.
The strategy there fits in with a larger theme of seamlessness. Making the experience easier is ultimately going to increase customer satisfaction. About 90% of people don’t want to create a new login on a website or stay on a mobile site if they get their login wrong on the first try.
Push notifications are another good – but under-utilised, in Wilsdon’s opinion – strategy for retaining customers and making their lives easier. For example, your website can send alerts to users even when their browser isn’t open, reminding them that they have an item in their cart.
“Previously, we thought of mobile as something to bolt onto our sites. That’s not the case anymore. We have to retool the entire way we’re creating content,” said Wilsdon. “The mobile web is open for business; we now have the tools to make it work.”