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How to drive PC traffic through the mobile Web

Some marketers are wary to roll out sites optimized for mobile devices because they are worried that the traffic will clip into their PC Web numbers. However, experts agree that if done correctly, mobile can actually increase traffic to a Web site.

Digital traffic from both mobile and Web sites is growing across the board for brands, meaning that a mobile site should be used as an additive part of overall traffic instead of being a substitute for Web traffic. Additionally, it is important to tailor the experience across each medium to tap into a user?s intent.

?From my experience working with enterprise clients in media, retail and even business-to-business consulting, the mobile Web is driving significant PC Web traffic,? said Giovanni Calabro, vice president of design at Siteworx, Reston, VA.

?For example, the iPhone iOS 6 is making it easier to post to Twitter and Facebook,? he said. ?This aspect of social alone shows how people are engaging in separate areas and tying the separate devices together.?

Mobile driver
With more consumers using their handsets for quick access to information while on the go, mobile Web is typically one of the first focus areas for marketers.

Consumers are often interacting with multiple screens at the same time, meaning that if something does not render correctly ? such as non-optimized content ? users are likely to move on to another experience elsewhere.

From researching to buying, consumers are doing everything on mobile sites. However, the mobile Web does not replace a PC experience for many users.

Take the car-buying experience, for example.

Consumers might be looking for quick information about a car model while at a dealership from their handset, but they are most likely not going to buy a car over their handset on the spot. Instead, mobile serves as a research tool, which will ultimately help a brand drive more traffic to its PC Web site.

Research from Google also points to how mobile can be an initial starting point for driving Web traffic. According to a recent study, 65 percent of consumers begin a search on a smartphone with 60 percent of users transitioning the task to a desktop and four percent moving to a tablet.

The same study also found that 66 percent of social media access begins on a smartphone. Of those users, 58 percent continued the experience onto a laptop and eight percent moved to a tablet for the same purpose (see story).

Mr. Calabro used USA Today as an example of a brand that is designing fluidly for both PC and mobile Web as the company sees an uptick in both types of traffic.

?Marketers who are hesitant to get into mobile should recognize that the trends are just not in their favor,? Mr. Calabro said.

?Instead of trying to influence their customers? channel preferences, they should start by learning their customers? engagement preferences and focusing on serving them effectively,? he said.

Mobile implications
Recently, an executive from floor products maker Armstrong Worldwide at the Netbiscuits World 2012 conference in New York said that mobile makes up approximately four percent of overall traffic to the company?s consumer-facing site.

The company launched a mobile site in May and has seen that Web traffic is up almost 30 percent year-over-year (see story).

Although the executive declined to provide specific data, she does believe that mobile is contributing to the brand?s Web growth.

Armstrong?s mobile site is not commerce-enabled, meaning that consumers are using the site to research quick bits of information and are likely going back to their PCs to finish tasks that they begin on their handsets and tablets.

Multiple contexts
Given how consumers are using mobile and PC Web in conjunction, there are also strong implications for marketers looking to retarget consumers across multiple screens.

Tracking is still a challenge on mobile with privacy concerns. Additionally, the lack of compatible cookies in most devices also poses a problem.

Therefore, location and social media play a big role in connecting the dots between mobile and PC usage. Based on signals from a consumer?s intent, similar ads can be served across Web and mobile screens to get users to convert.

Although mobile commerce continues to grow, some consumers are still wary of transacting over their devices, which can be reflected in the way marketers present advertisements.

For example, a brand could serve an ad aimed more at brand-building to mobile users. On the PC side, the ad could include a call-to-action to let consumers buy a product or service.

Mobile and PC Web go together hand-in-hand. Both serve important but different roles for a brand and should not be substituted for one another.

If done correctly, mobile Web can also increase traffic rankings and impressions in the marketplace, according to Craig Besnoy, president and managing director of North America at Netbiscuits, New York.

?Marketers today are more conscientious about setting up their mobile sites so as to increase the effectiveness of their SEO,? Mr. Besnoy said. ?Leveraging the mobile experience correctly will drive online and offline actions that deliver advertisements with higher yields.?

?We see geo-content ? content that is accessed because of your surroundings ? as the biggest driver of mobile to traditional Web traffic,? he said. ?The mobile Web increases the amount and relevancy of the content you can provide a consumer who is mobile and on the move versus stationery in front of their desktop or laptop.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York