The growth of smartphones and tablets has surpassed the expectations of even the most optimistic commentator this year. It’s now estimated that smartphone and tablet usage will overtake PC and laptop usage in the US before the end of the year. In the UK, Ofcom has just released its own study, the annual Communications and Marketing Report, which states that 1 in 3 UK adults own and use a smartphone on a daily basis. What this means for the marketing industry is that marketers will have to re-think their strategies and increasingly concentrate their marketing efforts on the mobile audience if they wish to continue to drive traffic to their sites. IBM’s recent study, The Mobile Sweep, has already identified that such mobile search strategies are already being adopted by some of the more forward-thinking companies. So, is your business forward looking? Have you already optimised your mobile search engine strategy to target this ever-growing market?
In its report, IBM looked at the fortunes of the website Priceline.com and noted that it had benefitted significantly from the growth of mobile search. As users get used to searching on the go and using e-commerce, they become increasingly comfortable and are prepared to spend money more freely, it appears, than their non-mobile counterparts. IBM reported that 82% of Priceline.com’s, mobile visitors booked their hotel rooms within a day of discovering the website: only 45% of non-mobile users did the same. Of the mobile bookers, over 50% were within 20 miles of their hotels when they booked them, which would suggest that location and proximity are key drivers in helping them to make these decisions.
All the available statistics indicate that the total number of consumers who search and buy on mobiles will continue to rise exponentially. Using data from Morgan Stanley, the conclusion IBM reached was that mobile internet devices will lead the market in the coming years and will produce the bulk of internet sales. But why has the smartphone had such an impact on search and sales? IBM believes that it’s the availability of 3G internet, and the promise of fourth generation broadband, that has been the major driver in the smartphone and tablet market, along with the ability of mobiles to deliver enhanced context awareness. That may sound a little high faluting and complicated, but in essence what they’re getting at, is that the mobile is very good at delivering information to mobile users in real time which answers all their needs – that is physical and geographical location, social context and time. The implications for those businesses that haven’t yet optimised their websites to deliver locally optimised content to mobile searchers is that you’d best do it quickly, or you’ll miss the boat.
If businesses need any encouragement to optimise their sites for the local market, and also for mobile users, then surely this is this it. The market is out there and growing all the time, and it seems this sector of the market is more willing to spend online than any other. So, go on: you know it makes sense. Mobile search engine optimisation is the trend of the future. Don’t let your business lose out.