Throughout the year, the growth of mobile marketing has been a topic of great interest for professionals in many industries. The trajectory has increased sharply in recent months, not only in the U.S. but in a global context. The repercussions for businesses hoping to reach customers both at home and away are expected to be substantial and lasting. Because online marketing has for so long worked primarily with a desktop-driven model, there are questions about how companies should handle the mobile shift.
When will the major transition occur?
While different sources have varying viewpoints on when the mobile line will be crossed, there's mounting evidence that it will happen sooner rather than later. In fact, 2015 is expected to be the year during which the largest portion of marketing and advertising spend and organic traffic transitions to mobile technology like smartphones and tablets (1).
While more than half of all digital expenses will go toward mobile marketing, there still may be some hesitation to fully embrace the trend. Why? The cost of mobile advertising compared to the revenues that businesses generally see still trails desktop models. In other words, actual sales aren't picking up at the same pace as ad spend. For this reason, some marketers are still watching and waiting.
Search engines take a deep dive into mobile
Meanwhile, Yahoo is benefiting from its investment in mobile marketing. Currently, Google remains at the top of the list of companies that are netting revenue from their mobile ad strategies, comprising more than 37 percent of the roughly $19 billion (2). By comparison, Yahoo accounts for 3.18 percent, around 0.4 percent behind Twitter. However, 2015 is expected to be the year when Yahoo overtakes the social media platform for a bigger share of an expanding mobile ad market. The expected spend in the U.S. mobile marketing segment is predicted to more than double from 2014's numbers to more than $40 billion in 2016.
Twitter is also expected to grab a greater share of mobile advertising revenue, as companies invest in promoted tweets, but to a lesser degree than Yahoo. The other social media giant, Facebook, is expected to hold onto the second top-most position in market share, while LinkedIn isn't predicted to make much of an impact.
A global perspective
While businesses in the U.S. have taken advantage of the rise in interest in mobile technology and commerce, it remains to be seen whether it will become a global phenomenon. As the home of roughly 1.7 billion international mobile users, the Asia Pacific region is one area that many companies are looking to for strong performance (3). Countries like China and India are both rapidly developing and significant populations that have adopted mobile technology with great zest. At least two-thirds of the companies in Asia indicated they're making mobile a central part of the marketing strategy, but just one-quarter of businesses have a clear strategy.
Over the next 12 months, 47 percent of companies plan on integrating mobile advertising and a nearly equal number will implement mobile search strategies. Another tactic 4 in 10 organizations anticipate using is mobile-optimized emails.
Keeping in mind the strategies that companies are using to leverage mobile devices for marketing, not every smartphone and tablet are created equal. The hybrid phone and tablet products called phablets provide users with a larger screen, which generally allows for easier navigation. Despite the fanfare of the new iPhone 6 Plus, 77 percent of the traffic generated by phablets comes from Samsung devices (4).
The bigger issue is that phablet owners act more like their counterparts who own tablets. The average order size on a phablet during the third quarter of 2014 was $115.86, which is much closer to the $121.30 median order size on tablets than smartphone owners boast. Another important fact to keep in mind is that larger screens tend to increase the number of conversions a business sees.
What does this mean for marketers? Because of the apparent trend toward larger screen sizes on phablets, there's a temptation to disregard many of the best practices for mobile marketing, such as using responsive design to adjust to fit smaller screens or creating a mobile website altogether. However, it's critical to continue pushing for a user experience on mobile devices that integrates easy navigation and relatively simple design that gives buyers the ability to find exactly what they want to on a brand's site. At the same time, a mobile-optimized home page helps companies perform better in organic search.
1. "Mobile Search Will Surpass Desktop in 2015"
2. "Yahoo Poised to Pass Twitter in US Mobile Ad Share by 2015"
3. "Four things to know about the State of Mobile Marketing in Asia Pacific"
4. "Big Phones Gaining Share, Driving Traffic And Larger Conversions"