Marketers understand that in the current advertising climate, mobile marketing is key to success. If nothing else, the fact that Google announced mobile searches surpassed desktop searches last year is proof enough it’s a mobile-first marketing world. But, many marketers still find the channel challenging.
ClickZ found that only 13% of mobile advertisers felt they were “advanced” with a majority at 56% describing themselves as “beginners” in navigating the mobile channel. That finding came from surveys that led to ClickZ and Search Optics’ “The State of Mobile Advertising” report, covering a range of topics with a direct impact on mobile marketing including programmatic, hyperlocal advertising and paid search.
Troy Smith, president of Search Optics, told Marketing Dive the fact that 56% of respondents called themselves beginners at mobile marketing was surprising. "It seems that many businesses have not yet developed a truly mobile-first approach to digital marketing strategy," he said, adding that "a full 46% of marketers surveyed said they do not believe that their current mobile advertising spend is in line with their customers' consumption of media through mobile."
Still, Smith noted that 84% of client respondents and 79% of agency respondents reported utilizing responsive web design. However, he said, "The study makes it clear that digital marketers as a whole aren't taking advantage of all available opportunities to reach customers at every stage of the purchase funnel."
The role of programmatic
The mobile marketing challenge lies in developing a holistic digital marketing strategy that takes advantage of mobile-first tactics. Smith said that includes advanced tactics made available by technology and innovation such as programmatic.
"Programmatic is a valuable tool that will continue to drive growth by raising brand awareness, thanks to the more data-driven and targeted approach that mobile enables," Smith said. "But it's also critical to support your programmatic investment with a strong attribution strategy, which will help you evaluate campaign performance and assess the full impact of your efforts."
The ClickZ report found 54% of respondents are increasing programmatic mobile budgets this year, and 38% are increasing investments in data management platforms. They are doing so in order to fully take advantage of the first- and third-party data driving programmatic spending.
Looking ahead, programmatic mobile is predicted to drive growth this year for businesses looking to build brand awareness at the top of the sales funnel.
Hyperlocal is too often a missed opportunity
Even though targeted advertising based on precise location might be mobile marketing’s most powerful attribute, only 22% reported exploiting this capability to its fullest potential. In the ClickZ survey, for every hyperlocal tactic, the vast majority of respondents reported “excellent” or “good” ROI, an indicator that marketers focusing on geo-targeting are finding measurable success.
In terms of where hyperlocal advertising fits into a strategy, Smith said the tactic “offers great opportunity to deliver targeted, location-based ads to customers.”
One respondent was cited in the report saying that with more consumers constantly having access to their mobile devices, it provides ample opportunities for them to conduct "near me" searches about brands. That in turn requires "brands to be more responsive than ever," the respondent said, adding, "If your business is not present when near me moments of need occur, you might as well not exist."
For a brand to be visible when a consumer conducts a "near me" search on their smartphone, that brand has to properly manage and distribute their location data, and pair it with contextual content in order to turn those search moments into purchases.
Paid mobile search drives ROI
Paid search, according to Search Optics, lends itself really well to the small screen.
And Smith explained that paid search is the go-to tactic to convert bottom of the funnel prospects.
"Mobile search is ranked highly by digital marketers in terms of ROI, and at Search Optics we predict that it will continue to drive growth for businesses in 2016 and beyond," he said. "Paid search is especially well-suited for mobile because paid results appear at the top of the page, and we've found that the smaller screen tends to discourage users from scrolling further down."
He recommended investing in paid search to drive conversion, and for marketers to enroll in beta opportunities with Google to gain access to mobile data such as store visits. This type of data will provide greater understanding into the ROI of paid search campaigns.
Interestingly enough, Smith said respondents indicated they still looked to the tactic for more top-of-funnel outcomes, such as branding and engagement, despite paid search being most effective for conversion at the bottom of the sales funnel.
It’s a mobile-first world
Marketing needs to begin with mobile at a strategic level. And mobile should be thoroughly explored from email opens on smartphones through to actual sales via mobile e-commerce.
"While digital marketers are already leveraging a variety of tactics to prioritize the user experience on mobile, they still aren't keeping up with all of the changes in consumer behavior that mobile has brought about," Smith said. "More widespread adoption of advanced digital marketing tactics ... could help digital marketers better reach customers in all the channels in which they're seeking out information."
As a foundation, understanding programmatic, hyperlocal advertising and paid mobile search as strategies that can join forces to impact the entire buying cycle goes a long way.