When referring to the digital world, many people like to say that we are “shifting” towards a world comprised of mostly digital. However, I think it is safe to say that that “shift” has been complete and that we operate in a world that is completely dominated by the digital scene; the scary part being that our world is continuing to grow further in that direction. In a whitepaper put out by comScore, they discuss the demographics that have been leading this shift as the younger generation and Millennials. ComScore states, “Young people and Millennials play a critical role in leading shifts in consumer technology adoption and usage habits, in areas such as social media, mobile, and video.” So where are we at digitally? Take a look at some of the drastic changes that have occurred sense 2010:
- Smartphone engagement has tripled in the last year, moving from 131 billion total minutes, to 442 billion minutes
- Tablets have the smallest usage percentage in minutes, but have still increased x10 sense 2010
- Desktops still have some presence, but have not been growing at the drastic rate the other platforms have been. Desktop usage has only seen an increase of 7% total from 2010.
While it is technologically awesome that our world has hit such an advanced digital era, in terms of marketing this created some chaos; comScore states that “the most disruptive shift in the digital media marketplace has been the shift from desktop to mobile platforms” because it “drastically” changed consumer behavior and how customers interact with organizations. In addition to this, another key issue facing the digital marketing world is the “Multi-Platform Majority” which refers to all the people/consumers in this world that interact with more than one device; TV, desktop, mobile, and tablet. ComScore defined this shift towards the use of multiple platforms as the “marketing challenge of this era” and that is because each platform is used differently. Consumers interact with a desktop differently than they do with their mobile phones, they use them for different purposes. In terms of marketing, this means we must be aware of how each platform is being used, and then tailor our digital marketing efforts to that use. Sound simple? Yeah it’s not. Below you will find an analysis of just one aspect of this issue; Mobile vs. Desktop.
Mobile vs. Desktop
As the expansion of mobile begins to take over, more and more search is being done on mobile devices and tablets; as opposed to desktop or laptops. That being said, it is crucial for organizations to understand some key differences between mobile searches and desktop searchers:
- One of the first and most important differences to understand, in my opinion, is that people may be using mobile search for a different purpose then desktop searchers. MOZ joins in on this conversation when they state, “the key here is to figure out if visitor’s goals on the main site should be the same on the mobile version of the site…you should determine your business goals internally, but use your web analytics to see what mobile visitors ate doing on your current site.” Once, as an organization, you have figured out what consumers are doing on your mobile site, you can begin to tailor the content of your mobile site too that need. For example, a lot of times, with the exception of Starbucks, consumers are not looking to make a purchase on their mobile phone. Keeping that in mind, if an organization wants to optimize their mobile SEO, they may want to focus more on information content, rather than landing pages that are meant for purchases. It is important for organizations to understand how users are using their mobile site, because this will determine the content of the site; as we have learned previously, having relevant content is a key aspect of SEO. By understanding the differences in search purposes between mobile and desktop, organizations will reap the benefits in the form of increased traffic to their webpages.
- Another key issue that MOZ brings up in an article titled Mobile Optimization, is the differences in site design for mobile vs. desktop. For example, you should not use Flash on mobile whereas for desktops, you should be using flash. It is important for organizations not to use Flash because “the plugin may not be available on your user’s phone.” Another example of site design involves the use of pop-ups. While pop-ups are annoying on desktops, they are easy to manage in that a user can close them with a click of the mouse. However, when it comes to mobile devices, pop ups can be hard to close. MOZ states, “It can be difficult and frustrating to try and close these on a mobile device. This might lead to a high bounce rate.” It is important for organizations to understand the differences in site design between mobile and desktops, because in order for a mobile site to be optimized, it must be user friendly. As the MOZ article states when referring to pop-ups, if a user gets frustrated it may lead to high bounce rates; a high bounce rate will not lead to a higher ranking on mobile searches. Overall, organizations can benefit from understanding the key site design differences because it will lead to a better user experience, thus ideally increasing traffic to their website and optimizing their mobile search results.
Starbucks: A leader in the Mobile App Universe
When you think of organizations that are truly “killin” it so to speak in the app world, who might you think of? You may have guessed from the heading of this section that Starbucks should come to mind. Starbucks, maker of the addictive coffee that we all know and love, has had extreme success with their mobile app and mobile purchasing; an accomplishment that is unrivaled for the most part. According to an article put out by the Washington Post, on average “customers pay for a purchase using a smartphone 7 million times per week, with mobile payments now accounting for roughly 16 percent of total transactions.” It is clear that Starbucks customers have become acquainted to “engaging” with Starbucks on their mobile app, and even more so have become accustomed to paying for their order via the mobile app. But why has Starbucks been so successful with their mobile App? What are they doing differently? The answer is quite simple and probably one that most of us could guess; My Starbucks Rewards. The My Starbucks Rewards program offers free drinks for every x amount of purchases, but the catch is you have to pay with your mobile device or with your Starbucks gold card. Essentially, in order to get a free drink and reap the benefits of Starbucks rewards, you have to engage with the app and pay for your drink on the mobile device; thus explaining the 7 million smartphone payments that they receive per week.
The question then becomes, how could other organizations who are looking to have a presence in the mobile app world learn from Starbucks? My answer is, follow their lead and intertwine a reward/incentive program to customers that are engaging with your app. It is clear that Starbucks large presence in the app world, and in mobile payment, is due to the fact that customers are rewarded for doing so; in other words, Starbucks is making it worth their while to download the app. The same strategy should be employed by other organizations, add a feature to your app that makes it worth the customers while to download and use the app. This concept could take many forms, for example:
- An organization could offer discounts that are only available via the app. This will spark more downloads of the app, and ideally entice customers to explore the other features available in the app
- Create a system similar to Starbucks and allow customers to pay via their mobile app in exchange for some sort of reward
- Offer sales promotions that are only available when downloading the app
The next question may then become, why is it worth an organizations time to enhance their mobile app presence? In other words, why should organizations want to have a popular app? As discussed previously, mobile app’s are where the majority of the time on mobile devices is being spent by consumers; we are coming into the day and age where your organization needs to have an app in order to get website traffic. In addition to this though, having consumers use your app acts as another tool for gathering demographics, psychographics, Geographic’s, etc. The Washington Post describes Starbucks use of their app beyond just loyal customers when they say, “Starbucks also gathers a rich trove of data about its most loyal customers, something it can eventually leverage to shape its marketing tactics, promotions and even store locations.” Clearly it is important for organizations to optimize their mobile app because that is where consumer time is being spent, but beyond that, apps can help gather crucial information about organizations customers.
All of the quotes and statistics used in this post came from the following sources:
US Digital Future in Focus: ComScore White Paper
MOZ Mobile Optimization
Starbucks Washington Post