Looks like it’s time to get some new hiking boots because mobile is climbing yet again! 2014 marked the first time that mobile surpassed desktop Internet usage, and we’re now witnessing a new way it continues to grow: in conversions.
People are spending more time with the Internet on their smartphones than ever before: 34 hours per month vs. only 27 hours on their desktop computers (Nielsen). A recent report by Marin highlighted that as traffic continues to grow, so too will the way people engage with their mobile devices: not only in impressions, but also clicks, conversions, and (we’d like to add) phone calls. The report studied Q3 2014 metrics and year-over-year changes in key performance indicators (KPIs) by channel and device, offering marketers insight into how we can optimize marketing ROI by platform.
While desktop remains the most popular source of online conversions for now, mobile has experienced double-digit growth in conversions where desktop has seen the opposite. The key is to understand which channels and devices are best suited for mobile and how to optimize to drive valuable conversions.
Online Channel Investments Are Shifting
It’s not surprising that people engage with search, display, and social advertising in distinctly different ways – each serves a different function for us in our daily lives. Yet the Marin study found that all three channels have seen growth from mobile for nearly all metrics measured (impressions, clicks, spend, and conversions) at the expense of desktop engagement. As a result, consumer behavior has impacted advertiser investment for:
- Search: Smartphone spend outpaces clicks, indicating marketers still need to work on optimizing for mobile.
- Display: More focus on mobile display from advertisers has led to half of display investment being spent on mobile devices.
- Social: As the channel with the fastest mobile user growth, advertisers hurried to spend ad dollars in social, yet consumer intent on this channel is less tied to conversions.
The changes advertisers have made to their digital strategy make us reevaluate the metrics we need to analyze to measure success. The study found that:
- Click-Through Rate (CTR): Search drives the highest CTR of all channels, and smartphones are the leader within search.
- Conversion Rate: Search again leads in conversion rates, but desktop has much higher conversion rates than on mobile.
- Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Similar to conversions, desktop leads the pack in CPC, and CPCs in general are much higher for search.
We said we’re adding it as a measure to consider: don’t forget about phone calls. While the study did not measure inbound calls, BIA/Kelsey estimates that inbound calls to U.S. businesses from mobile search alone will reach 75 billion by 2018. Being able to track calls back to your business is yet another tool to help you attribute your mobile marketing and optimize for what is working.
Mobile Conversions See Largest Growth
For many, the ultimate goal is conversions – a.k.a money for your business. Here’s where we get back on the mobile trail Marin put forth: the study found that, of any device, mobile experienced the highest year-over-year growth in conversions. Sure, desktop still dominates the actual share of total conversions, but this growth is significant. It offers further evidence that we need to optimize for mobile conversions. And because phone calls have been found to convert to revenue 10 to 15 times more frequently than web leads, it’s imperative to measure these conversions from phone calls to get the full picture of your marketing efforts.
Channel and Device: It Requires a Holistic View
By looking at the differences in both channel and platform engagement, we can be smarter when investing our marketing dollars – optimizing for precisely what is driving conversions. Including phone calls will close the loop on your reporting and help you recognize all the ways your marketing is driving conversions.
We as marketers know that as mobile device usage continues to grow, the above statement from Marin’s study will no longer even be a thought. Thanks to the growing sophistication of lead management tools, we are able to follow them through the sales cycle all the way to conversion.
And with more inbound calls to businesses from marketing than ever before, if we’re not tracking calls to our business, how are we attributing the conversions that happen over the phone? The answer is that we’re not able to. Not unless we’re using call tracking technology to understand which ad, web page, search keyword, or marketing campaign is driving calls. Only then will we have the full picture of our marketing and be able to optimize for what is driving conversions; from any mobile channel that is driving conversions, be it search, display, or social.
If you’re looking for ways to maximize your mobile marketing, check out our eBook, “Marketing to Smartphone Users: New Mobile Strategies for Driving Sales Calls.”