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Having a grown-up mobile marketing strategy with site and SEO

By Heather Fernandez

Mobile is not just for email anymore.

That is evident to any marketer who has spent time around teens, at a mall or at a sporting event. Mobile is everywhere and it is reshaping how people interact with brands and make online purchases.

In a three-month study spanning February to May 2012, comScore found that 234 million U.S. consumers use smartphones and, of that number, 110 million are smartphones owners. 

This impressive growth demonstrates the need for marketers to understand that consumers are changing their online behavior when they research and engage with brands. 

Consumers are using the Web 24/7, thanks to the affordability and portability of owning a mobile device. The issue they increasingly face is trying to connect with businesses that have yet to adopt a mobile-friendly digital strategy. 

Brands that have not developed such a strategy are missing out on the largest segment of online growth opportunities.

According to market research firm Gartner, mobile phone ownership reached 5.6 billion in 2011 and is expected to continue to grow until 2015, when total ownership will reach 7.4 billion.

Designing for mobile
Having a mobile-friendly Web site is the most important step in rolling out any mobile strategy.

No matter which marketing channel companies focus on, they want consumers to connect with their brands.

A brand?s Web site is its main hub to foster brand loyalty. Whether marketers are running paid search, or pay-per-click, campaigns or focused on a strong search engine optimization program, all of these channels funnel consumers to their Web site.

Mobile design is paramount to a successful ecommerce strategy. If a brand?s Web site is not easily navigated on a mobile device, its customers will leave to find a company that is.

Not all mobile devices users are smartphone users, and while Web designs typically scale down properly on smartphones, they do not scale down well on other mobile devices, which comprise 53 percent of mobile devices.

This might mean designing a site specifically for mobile users, or incorporating a responsive design Web site that allows a Web site to scale to virtually any size screen.

Apps not always the answer
Does a mobile strategy always mean developing an application? It should not. It is wise to develop apps when staying connected with customers is important. They can also become a wonderful customer-service tool. 

Apps, however, do not replace the need for marketers to provide relevant, easily viewed content to potential customers.

A brand?s Web site should be doing that. It is vital, therefore, that corporate Web site content is easily accessible for mobile users. Apps are not the answer in this respect.

Paid search in mobile
Running PPC campaigns? Check to be sure they are set up to display on mobile devices.

If managing campaigns specific to mobile devices, there are efficiencies that should be incorporated into a PPC campaign that are only applicable to mobile devices. These include ad placement/bids, ad copy creation and proper keyword lists for modified search queries from mobile devices.

When running a mobile PPC campaign, there are many optimizations that should be made specifically for this segment of consumers.

Other issues to consider surround mobile?s effect on SEO campaigns. It is important to evaluate how search engines handle Web content and display that for mobile users.

Google is already crawling and indexing content for mobile devices. It has developed Googlebot 2.1, which is a mobile-specific spider.

When mobile users view search engine results page (SERP) results on these devices, the SERP snippets are shorter in character length in many instances, so incorporating shorter meta titles and descriptions becomes important.

If the focus is on SEO and developing a mobile version of a brand?s Web site, it is important to display this content so that it does not get filtered out as duplicate content.

Consumers behave differently when they use mobile devices versus a desktop PC.

Screens and keyboards are smaller and cumbersome to use, which means search queries are shorter and more efficient. These behavior shifts require strategy shifts for marketers overseeing mobile campaigns.

Understanding and pulling intelligence specifically for this segment of consumers is critical to developing an effective mobile strategy and running successful mobile campaigns in PPC and SEO.

MOBILE IS GROWING up. Marketers need to ensure their mobile marketing campaigns are as mature and sophisticated as today?s mobile shopper.

Heather Fernandez is senior SEO strategist at MediaWhiz, New York. Reach her at .