Let’s look at some statistics concerning smartphone usage:
US smartphone owners use their devices: 75% for email and 63% for social networking (eConsultancy)
US mobile (smartphone + tablet) Web browsing is up over 13% of all browsing. Up from 8% in Fall 2012 (NetMarketShare)
I wish we could break the mobile numbers out into smartphone and tablet because I think they are two separate devices, but we’ll go with what we have.
Looking at those numbers and the trends it’s easy to see that more Internet users are switching to mobile devices instead of their traditional laptops and desktop computers.
The question is how will the mobile trend impact your online marketing efforts.
The biggest understanding with trends in the marketplace is that age plays a significant role. I read Kevin Hillstrom at Mine That Data for his insight into this matter.
In general, humans are creatures of habit. We develop our preferences in our teens, twenties and into our 30s a little bit. From there we don’t really change much.
There are exceptions, but for the most part we stick with what we know as time goes by and technology changes.
In the case of mobile this means that the generation that will use mobile the most for online activities like email, browsing, etc. will be those age 35 and under.
There are exceptions. For example, if your target customer is a 40 year old marketing manager in Silicon Valley you probably understand that they are likely to be heavy mobile user, but for the most part you can follow preferences by age.
If your customer is 60 years old you probably don’t need to worry too much about mobile if your customer is even online at all.
Mobile and Local
Local businesses with young target audiences may be impacted by smartphone use the most. Again, be careful when looking at mobile statistics because tablets are often throw in. People aren’t using their iPads as they walk down the street looking for a place to eat.
But people are using their smartphones to find local businesses. They’re searching for directions. They’re looking for information.
Local businesses might not actually have to worry so much about the device being used to do this research as much as they’ll have to worry about the changes in local SEO.
For the past year or so the local SEO world has really picked up. It kind of comes from the increase in mobile use among consumers, but Google has been pushing hard on the local information in their results.
If you search for a restaurant in your city you’ll see results packed with local information. There are addresses, maps, reviews and other information.
Your site will need all this information to get solid rankings along with putting your information on sites like Google+ or Google Places.
Mobile SEO will also be different.
Things could go a couple different ways. The one thing we know is that on a mobile device there is less real estate on the search results page. People are still searching as much as ever, but Google has to deal with getting paid ads on the results pages so it could mean that SEO will be even more difficult with mobile devices.
The course of action here is to spread out your source of traffic to your website. If you’re relying heavily on SEO for traffic you’ll want to build your email list and build a solid way to get referrals via social media sharing.
You can do the latter by creating a great business with great merchandise and you can create great content that people want to share.
Social media has the same issue as SEO. There is less real estate, but social sites like Facebook need to get their ads on the page.
Social media sites are also doing more to keep users on the sites instead of leaving the sites. Twitter, for example is pulling in more content from the source making it easier for users to get information right on Twitter without visiting the source.
This has happened before with Google and it’s just the nature of how things will work on social media. They need pageviews to sell to advertisers and keeping eyes on the site and on the apps will help them.
We mentioned one strategy above for social, which is to create content people want to share. The trick is to get people introduced to your brand with the content you create. If people are satisfied reading just a headline and a snippet of your content on a site like Twitter you want them to at least know it’s your brand that created it.
You can also create longer content that entices people to leave a site like Twitter to visit your site to get the entire story.
People have always has short attention spans when it comes to checking email. This won’t change just because people are checking their emails on their phones.
If you don’t have an interesting email people will delete it. That’s obvious.
What you can do is figure out if your customer (look at their age) is using a mobile device to check email. If they are you can design emails that are more mobile-friendly for things like clicking with fingers.
Fast loading emails are also important. Data networks are fast, but if you have a heavy email with images and things and it takes a long time to load people will simply delete it.
The same principles about design and load time will affect your site. Responsive design is endorsed by Google. It’s a way for you to have one website that functions for desktops, tablets and smartphones.
You have your designer create experiences on the same site that gives visitors a good experience no matter what device they are using.
A response site example is Interview Scope.
The one thing that has remained constant over history is the importance of content. There has always been content no matter what the medium. From billboards to radio to TV to desktops to mobile devices – it’s all content.
If you are focusing on devices and channels and not content you’re missing the point.
Without a content strategy specifically designed for your customer you’re missing out on what really matters to them.
Yes, your customer may prefer a smartphone, but they still want content they can read and watch. Content is what they’re really looking for when they search and share information online.
A content strategy is simple. Figure out the questions your customer is asking and answer them on your website or business blog.
It’s a simple strategy, but difficult to carry out.
Mobile will have some impact for some businesses, but it’s not a huge game changer. People generally stick with what works best for them. It’s why things like catalogs still work. People over the age of 40 or 50 love getting catalogs. It’s how they shop. They’re comfortable calling a call center and placing an order.
Another thing that won’t change is the demand for content and information. That strategy is device agnostic or channel agnostic. Content doesn’t need a device to be important.
Focus on what your customer craves in terms of information and provide that information.
You’ll create content that is without a need for a device and you’ll also create a business that can go beyond device marketing.