The following column was originally published November 26, 2016 in The Gazette.
It’s tough to separate marketing from technology these days. It’s even harder to talk about digital marketing and not hammer away on the importance of a good mobile experience for your customers. I’d like to say that this column is going to be different but well, sorry, not sorry, it’s not.
Last year, mobile searches overtook desktop queries. Since 91% of American adults now have a cell phone this trend will certainly continue.
Google has made several changes this year to accommodate the different ways users use mobile search, most recently announcing that it is rolling out a separate mobile index in 2017. The mobile index will operate in real-time to deliver results that are more relevant and will favor businesses with strong mobile optimization and even more importantly, a good user experience.Google Drives Innovation, Standards
Google, of course, is the master of developing search tools that anticipate the needs of the consumer and creating a slick, seamless experience for mobile users. For instance, this year it added a super-functional appointment-setting feature that touches several different Google tools for a more holistic user experience.
Here’s one possible scenario for the appointment setting features. First, the customer does a Google search for a service provider. Then, the user “clicks to call” from their mobile phone. Or, perhaps they make an appointment online, getting an email confirmation that will automatically update their Google calendar app with the appointment information. On appointment day, customer gets a Google Calendar reminder, pulls up Google Maps for turn-by-turn navigation to their destination. In a perfect Google world, the user may also pay for the service with their Google Wallet and in the not too distant future, he or she may ride to the appointment in a self-driving car powered by Google.
While the whole experience is easy for the user, there’s a lot happening on the back end to make the experience appear seamless. Each step along the way businesses need to make sure their digital assets, especially their online business listings, are optimized for the Google ecosystem.
Local Tools = Local Sales
For retailers, mobile text-based marketing services are gaining in popularity. National chains have been delivering discounts and specials via text message for a couple of years now. However, smaller businesses can also get in on the act using services that provide the technology and reach local companies need.
One such service, JumpOnIt, recently began offering service to the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area. Users sign up to receive texts featuring promotions and deals from local businesses by simply texting JumpOnCR to 82928. To redeem the offers, they click the text message that takes them to a mobile webpage, and then click redeem in front of the retailer. No lengthy registration or purchase is necessary. Like the Google appointment setting technology, the service creates a smooth mobile experience that requires little or no effort on the user’s behalf. Local businesses interested in giving JumpOnIt text-based marketing a try can contact Fusionfarm to get started.
The demand for simple, intuitive mobile experiences is driving these changes, both in technical SEO and in product development. For 2017, businesses should take a hard look at how well their SEO stands up to the structural changes Google is putting into place, as well as the mobile friendliness of their marketing tactics.
For more ideas on strategies for 2017, download our free eBook, Digital Cocktail - How to Mix the Best Digital Channels for your Marketing Goals or contact us directly. We'd love to help.