Google's Recommendations on How to Reach Mobile Holiday Shoppers

With increasing mobile usage, businesses and organizations must focus on being friendly to smartphone users in order stay competitive. Whether you are an ecommerce or a brick-and-mortar store, mobile marketing is crucial to prevent missed opportunities and conversions.

The guys over at Google have laid out their holiday trend forecast with recommendations on what brands can do to better reach their customers for the upcoming shopping season.

This 2014 Holiday Season, Expect:

“Gray Friday” – Google retail experts suggest that Black Friday will no longer be a single day where customers can expect to get the best deals. Much like last year, stores will release promotions ahead of Black Friday and throughout the month following.

Mobile Research – while there has been a decrease in in-store traffic over the least few years, much of the time that’s spent outside of stores is on a mobile device. Google’s Industry Director of Retail, Julie Krueger, mentioned that one-third of all Google searches occur between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Google data from the 2013 holiday season indicated that the biggest in-store sale days coincided with high spikes in mobile searches, indicating that users were on the prowl for the best deal via a mobile device.

Showrooming – while “showrooming,” or looking at an in-store product online, Google found that mobile devices were being used to compare prices on the spot in-store. While brick-and-mortar stores may be concerned with this, they shouldn’t be. 46% of showrooming shoppers ended up making their purchase online. This suggests that retailers must have rich, detailed information about their products online and available for customers to search.

Integration Between Online and Offline – During 2010 to 2013, there was a 55% drop of in-store traffic. However, for those customers who do make it into a store, Google found they purchased twice as much per visit than they would have online. The key, as Google suggests, is to prep the customer beforehand online to get them to go into the store. Or else, “you’ve lost the sale”.

Video Promotion – For a business to thrive online, they must create information content marketing. A recent Google survey suggested that 25% have shopper have used YouTube to search for videos about products they consider buying in-store. These can be in the form of how-to videos, product reviews, branded content, and celebrity endorsements.

While there’s a lot that Google suggests for the upcoming holiday season, one thing holds true. In order for businesses to thrive this holiday season and win the hearts of both online and in-store customers, they must begin with a successful and mobile friendly online presence. So how do you get started?

Below is a few recommendations we recommend for building a more mobile friendly online presence:

1. Responsive Design

Google’s recommendation for website configuration is going with responsive design. Since responsive design uses the same HTML to serve one URL, and the style and look of the website adjusts automatically to whatever screen size it loads on, it is the ideal choice. This decreases the chances of any glitches and free users or redirects, something that can cause a long website load time.

A study conducted by Google found that 61% of mobile users do not return to a website if they had trouble viewing or using it. And if that wasn’t enough, 40% of those users will go to competitors to find information they are after.

2. Click to Call Buttons

Call-to-action buttons are one of the most valuable inbound marketing tools available. Google found that 61% of users called after performing a local search. The call-to-action button must be large so it’s easy to click on by a user’s thumb. It was found that call extensions increase click-through rate by 6-8%

3. Google AdWords Extensions

One feature that business owners may not now about Google PPC is that there are several different extensions that can be added to ads to increase the chances for customer clicks. This includes call extensions, which are great for restaurants that want to capture dinner reservations. There is also a review extension that shows off users ratings and reviews for a particular business. On average, extensions increase click through rate by 6-8%.

4. Integration Between Mobile and Desktop

During the holiday shopping season, customers will be on-the-go using smartphones to access deals, compare prices, and check store stock. According to Google, four out of 5 customers will be using their smartphones for smarter holiday shopping this season. A Google study conducted in 2012 concluded that 90% of customers move between devices, that is, from desktop, to tablet, to mobile. This means that businesses must create an integrated, 360 degree marketing approach. PPC campaigns must match the website, which must match with Facebook cover photos. Additionally, ad campaigns must target users on both desktop and mobile to see conversions.

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