There is a tendency within the digital sphere to uphold a future-oriented mindset. From social media to SEO, from algorithms to user experience, our approach and practices maintain a forecasting nature. Trends and methods are always observed and developed with the next step in mind and the future in sight, the end goal being to evolve with complexity and instinct matching that of users. How is search behavior changing? What will users respond to? How can we improve the digital practices that already exist? In what direction is search moving, and how can we stay ahead of the curve? The ability to effectively find solutions for these questions requires a marathon-like endurance, and, more than any other search engine, Google sets the pace.
Shifts in Search Behavior
For years we’ve anticipated a shift to mobile-first users, expecting and monitoring search behavior as smartphones continue to become more and more capable. That shift has arrived, and the necessity of adapting to a mobile-first world has become unavoidable. Of the ever increasing number of searches run on Google every day, more than half are made from a mobile device.
Smartphones, more than just a means of communication, have become a personal item for practically every member of society. Smartphones are a personal assistant, a planner, a map, and a genie that can answer any question by way of a simple search. So ingrained into modern culture is the smartphone/tablet/device that it’s now become the best, most effective place to reach consumers. The opportunity to reach consumers on a level as personal as the device in their pocket or purse holds significant potential for growth of any brand or business, but the tools to make that happen have to adapt to the ebb and flow of user behavior.
Get to Know Your Searchers
The importance of getting to know your searchers and/or clientele can’t be understated. In order to effectively market to new search patterns and habits, you have to be able to put yourself into the shoes of consumers-specifically the shoes of your consumers. As a general practice, I recommend spending time among the consumers you’re trying to target through your digital marketing campaigns. For example, if you’re trying to develop a PPC campaign for gourmet coffee, poke around the coffee culture forums on Reddit and take note of what consumers are looking for, respond to, what kind of language they use to talk about coffee, etc. Making observations about consumer preferences will keep you in the loop and allow you to understand your consumers best.
Google Sets the Pace in Mobile First Strategy
True to its trail-blazing performance, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has unveiled the first of what will likely be many adaptions of e-commerce tools. To meet consumers and users where they spend the most time and run the most searches, Google AdWords has been revamped. Its re-imagined design pointedly addresses the mobile-first trends that have arrived, and puts an old but sharpened tool back into the hands of advertisers and developers. The AdWords makeover is optimized for screen sizes of popular smartphones and mobile devices, putting user experience at the forefront of campaign management and therein cashing in on the ‘new’ behavior of searchers. What sounds like more work is actually less, because these upgrades offer responsive ads auto-designed by Google, bid adjustments for each device type, and local optimization-all streamlined into an a simple, contained format.
Why It’s Time to Shift Your Mindset
To spell it out in case it wasn’t already obvious: mobile users are having a moment. We now live in a mobile-first word; Google is adapting to it, and you should, too. The AdWords update and its modified controls are great, but this innovation is likely to be one of many. The emphasis on optimizing the mobile experience and, perhaps more importantly, finding ways to capitalize on it is why Google, the pace setter, is rolling out things like the Google Keyboard or even bothering with an AdWords redesign. More than an exciting and fresh way to meet consumers where it counts, it’s a move indicative of the overall shift towards mobile browsing and search. This assertion of permanence in regards to mobile browsing can’t be ignored and will undoubtedly prompt producers of all industries to rethink their strategy. While the shift to a mobile-first society by no means calls for the total abandonment of other marketing avenues, it does urge the recognition of quickly maturing user habits and a rethinking of how to naturally insert your brand or advertisement into the digital realm where users are doing the most. Clicking, shopping, browsing, local searches-all of the data Google has collected points to mobile, and that direction is where your future-oriented, digital mindset should be pointing, too.
Shifting Your Mindset: What You Can Do
Aside from getting to know your searchers, there are a handful of ways you can embrace this shift and participate in a mobile-first world.
- Make your website mobile-friendly. The way your website looks on a desktop isn’t how it’ll convert on a mobile device. Ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly will keep users on your site and provide useful information for the on-to-go consumer. Also along the lines of having a mobile-friendly site, if you have any forms that a user would need to fill out for your business, try and keep them short. Remember: convenience is key in a mobile-first world.
- Make phones numbers and addresses visible and clickable. If your business has a physical location, having the contact information readily available can significantly boost foot traffic.
- Evaluate your mobile page load speed. Fun fact via Kissmetrics: 40 prcent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Page load speed most directly affects your revenue when it comes to mobile. Every second counts, so make should your load speed is up to snuff by testing it.
- Update your mobile ads. Titles, displays-everything. Treat the re-imagined AdWords as your newest teammate, and use the new features to tweak your mobile ads for optimum performance. Are your ads responsive? Are you utilizing the longer headlines and description lines? Are your URL paths customized? By working through these things like a checklist, you can painlessly accommodate users from every device and participate in the mobile-first world.