How evolved is your digital marketing strategy?

Mobile has fun­da­men­tal­ly changed con­sumer shop­ping behav­iour and pur­chase jour­neys. How well has the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try kept up with the­se changes in con­sumer behav­ior?

Troy Smith By Troy Smith from Search Optics. Join the discussion » 0 comments

In less than a decade, mobile has fun­da­men­tal­ly changed our lives. Shop­pers now rely on mobile for every stage of the buy­ing jour­ney, from ini­tial aware­ness to final pur­chase deci­sion. When Google made the announce­ment last year that mobile had become the pri­ma­ry plat­form for online search­es, they con­firmed some­thing most dig­i­tal mar­keters already knew: we’re liv­ing in a mobile-first world. But just how well has the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try kept up with the­se changes in con­sumer behav­ior?


Search Optics part­nered with ClickZ Intel­li­gence to sur­vey 400 dig­i­tal mar­keters world­wide about the tac­tics they cur­rent­ly uti­lize, as well as their plans for the future. Now that the results are in, we have a clear pic­ture of the state of mobile adver­tis­ing today.

The good news

There’s cer­tain­ly some good news. For exam­ple, the evo­lu­tion of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing tech­nol­o­gy has enabled wide­spread adop­tion of some indis­pens­able mobile-first tac­tics. A healthy 84 per­cent of client respon­dents and 79 per­cent of agen­cy respon­dents report lever­ag­ing a respon­sive web­site design that offers full func­tion­al­i­ty on any size screen. This essen­tial mobile-first tac­tic ensures audi­ences can access con­tent when and where they need it, so it goes a long way toward greater engage­ment and con­ver­sion for brands.

Lots of room for improvement

But in oth­er ways, the indus­try still has a lot of catch­ing up to do. The study makes it clear that many dig­i­tal mar­keters are fail­ing to use every tac­tic at their dis­pos­al to reach mobile users—and they know it. In fact, 56 per­cent of respon­dents rat­ed them­selves as “begin­ners” in mobile mar­ket­ing, and 46 per­cent said they do not believe their cur­rent mobile adver­tis­ing spend is in line with their cus­tomers’ con­sump­tion of media through mobile. In a mobile-first world, that’s a big prob­lem.

The path forward

The bot­tom line: while some exper­tise exists in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, the indus­try also has a lot to learn. It’s crit­i­cal that dig­i­tal mar­keters lever­age a broad­er range of tac­tics to reach shop­pers at every stage of the pur­chase funnel—and in all the mobile chan­nels in which they seek out infor­ma­tion. Here are three key tac­tics all dig­i­tal mar­keters should con­sid­er when build­ing a mobile-first strat­e­gy for 2016 and beyond:

1. Top of fun­nel: pro­gram­mat­ic

Pro­gram­mat­ic is more pop­u­lar than ever: more than half of respon­dents report plans to increase their bud­get for pro­gram­mat­ic dis­play, pro­gram­mat­ic mobile, or pro­gram­mat­ic video in 2016. And it’s no won­der: pro­gram­mat­ic offers dig­i­tal mar­keters an unprece­dent­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty to tar­get audi­ences based on data—so it’s well-suit­ed for rais­ing aware­ness among shop­pers who may not have heard of a brand, but are like­ly to be inter­est­ed in it. Users exposed to Search Optics Pro­gram­mat­ic Mobile cam­paigns were 35 per­cent more like­ly to buy a new car com­pared to a geo-nor­mal­ized bench­mark, demon­strat­ing programmatic’s effec­tive­ness for increas­ing cus­tomers’ inter­est in a brand.

Addi­tion­al­ly, pro­gram­mat­ic offers a num­ber of ways to mea­sure cam­paign per­for­mance and ROI. Given that only 31 per­cent of sur­vey respon­dents believe their approach to attri­bu­tion enables them to see the true val­ue of mobile adver­tis­ing, pro­gram­mat­ic could offer a much-need­ed solu­tion. From mobile-enabled loca­tion stud­ies, to advanced match­back using third-par­ty data, to mea­sur­ing pur­chase intent among audi­ences exposed to ads, pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ing offers a new degree of cer­tain­ty for dig­i­tal mar­keters.

2. Mid­dle of fun­nel: hyper­local

Sur­pris­ing­ly few dig­i­tal marketers—only 22 percent—say they are cur­rent­ly exploit­ing hyper­local adver­tis­ing to its full poten­tial. What’s more, not a sin­gle hyper­local tac­tic is used by a major­i­ty of adver­tis­ers. That means many dig­i­tal mar­keters are miss­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect with the rapid­ly grow­ing num­bers of con­sumers who con­duct “near me” search­es on a dai­ly basis.

Using loca­tion data to deliv­er rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion to audi­ences at exact­ly the right time can deliv­er aston­ish­ing results. For exam­ple, in one Search Optics hyper­local cam­paign, audi­ences were 42 times more like­ly than a con­trol group to vis­it a client restau­rant loca­tion after expo­sure to ads. Given con­sumers’ grow­ing appetite for cus­tomized, rel­e­vant com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try has only begun to scratch the sur­face of hyperlocal’s poten­tial.

3. Bot­tom of fun­nel: paid search

Dig­i­tal mar­keters have achieved great results with paid search, with agen­cies rat­ing call exten­sions (90 per­cent), mobile bid mod­i­fiers (89 per­cent), and loca­tion exten­sions (87 per­cent) as good or excel­lent for return on invest­ment. Their suc­cess with this tac­tic comes as no sur­prise, since paid search per­forms espe­cial­ly well on mobile. That’s because it’s easy to mea­sure, and it’s fre­quent­ly used by bot­tom-fun­nel shop­pers who are active­ly search­ing for solu­tions. (Plus, ads appear at the top of search results, and small­er screens tend to dis­cour­age users from scrolling fur­ther down the page.)

Dig­i­tal mar­keters can achieve even more suc­cess with paid search by lever­ag­ing new, mobile-speci­fic tac­tics, such as enrolling in Google’s store vis­its beta pro­gram, which uses Android data to track the loca­tion of users click­ing on ads. When a user walks into a client loca­tion after see­ing a paid search ad, Google notes the results and dis­plays them in AdWords next to clicks and impres­sions. This lev­el of track­ing rep­re­sents the next step in ad tar­get­ing and will like­ly expand as mobile con­tin­ues to grow.

It’s true that with the rapid expan­sion of mobile, dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing has grown more com­plex. As audi­ences seek out infor­ma­tion in an increas­ing­ly diverse array of chan­nels, mar­keters can no longer depend on large, homoge­nous audi­ences with a sin­gle set of needs and inter­ests. How­ev­er, by devel­op­ing a holis­tic strat­e­gy that com­bi­nes a range of mobile-first tac­tics, dig­i­tal mar­keters can reach their cus­tomers in all the chan­nels in which they seek out information—and in every stage of the buy­ing jour­ney. With broad­er, more rapid adop­tion of the newest inno­va­tions in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, we can dri­ve our indus­try for­ward in lock­step with the pace of dig­i­tal evo­lu­tion as a whole.

Troy Smith

Written by Troy Smith

President, Search Optics

Troy Smith is president of Search Optics, a leading digital marketing provider with a specialty in automotive. Troy has a diverse background in digital marketing, technology, automotive and sales, and he helps thousands of automotive dealers and OEMs integrate digital marketing campaigns that emphasize quality lead generation.

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