Marketers have been discussing the implications of mobile devices since Apple released the first iPhone. Almost 10 years in, only recently have many of the big players such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft gone "mobile-first” and invested heavily in mobile technology. Recently, there have been a number of big announcements and new figures that show we are now at the tipping point of being a ‘mobile first’ world.
1. M-commerce sales almost one-third of e-commerce revenue
The first mobile trend is the monumental rise of m-commerce sales. According to a report by eMarketer, between 2014 and 2015, retail m-commerce sales rose 56.2 percent. Last year, mobile transactions accounted for more than a quarter of all e-commerce sales. This year, m-commerce would make up about 32 percent of sales.
This is a huge shift. Consumers are no longer just using their mobiles to check product details or find store locations, they are buying on their phones. This means that marketers need to put emphasis on creating a mobile experience that is not just a carbon copy of their desktop site but a stand alone experience. The Altimeter Group stated that, "When businesses don’t consider differences in mobile device interaction, they’re left with a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile that doesn’t account for nuances of engagement, context, and intention that vary greatly from one platform to the next.”
2. Google's making an index just for mobile
Another big new story in the last month was Google's mobile search index. At Pubcon in Las Vegas, Gary Illyes, one of the search giant's webmaster trends analysts, announced in his keynote speech that Google is developing a separate index exclusively for mobile. Eventually, this index will become the search engine's primary index.
The primary index, as it stands now, crawls websites and looks for particular signals indicating whether websites built for desktops would display well on mobile devices. In other words, the index ranks mobile-friendly sites, as opposed to desktop-centric sites.
The new mobile index aims to change this, using algorithms that identify "pure" mobile content, as Search Engine Land's Barry Schwartz put it.
Does this mean another "Mobilegeddon" could be in sight? That very well may be the case.
3. Mobile starting to dominate ad revenues
Google's transition to a mobile index makes sense perfect sense when seen in conjunction with a new report that found much of Google's U.S. ad revenue comes from mobile. According to eMarketer, 49.7 percent of Google's ad revenues will come from mobile devices in 2016. Next year, the company's mobile US ad revenue will be 55.7 percent.
Of course, Google isn't the sole company that has seen significant ad revenue pouring in from mobile. Facebook, which has experienced tremendous annual ad revenue growth over the past several years, will generate $21.98 billion in mobile ad revenue worldwide in 2016, according to estimates from eMarketer. eMarketer noted that Facebook's mobile ad revenue increased 66.6 percent between 2015 and 2016.
Preparing your business for a mobile-centric world
What can businesses do to tap into this new mobile-first and mobile-only world? Firstly, it is important to understand how your visitors are interacting with your mobile properties. This usually starts with analyzing web analytics data.
The challenge is that web analytics data only reveals what your visitors are doing, not the intentions and motivations behind their behavior. By conducting Voice of the Customer (VoC) research you can engage with your visitors and dialog with them to understand their intent, needs and experiences. Only by asking can you know what your customers want and create meaningful and relevant mobile experiences.
One of the biggest advantages of VoC research is that it allows brands to interact directly with their customers – or potential customers, in the context of their current mobile experience. This gives your customers the chance to engage and respond to your brand, allowing them to participate in shaping the experience. By capturing insights in the Moment of Truth (i.e. the most critical time in their browsing/shopping experience) you are collecting the most relevant and reliable attitudinal research on their experience. Therefore, the research becomes an excellent portal through which brand loyalty can be increased, as well as a vehicle to listen to customer needs in order to stay ahead of the curve and promote brand growth.
Today mobile is the new norm and is emerging as the default channel for many if not a majority of consumers. Companies that seize the opportunity to create relevant and high quality mobile experiences using the voice of their customers will be rewarded with greater share of m-commerce and higher search rankings.