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Should Brands Prioritise Mobile Over Desktop for Search?

Should Brands Prioritise Mobile Over Desktop for Search?

Short answer: Maybe

We’re in an age where mobile technology is becoming evermore important to consumers. The average person in the UK now owns 3.3 mobile devices and over 60% of all searches now conducted on mobile. As a result, the smartphone is fast becoming the most important platform for marketers. Whether or not brands should prioritise mobile over desktop really depends on what it is they are trying to achieve and the behaviour of their potential customers.

As mobile search usage continues to grow, and search engines continue to release mobile first updates, more marketers are optimising PPC strategies and prioritising mobile search over desktop. Yet, many brands are still undecided as to where their primary focus should be, and which area will be of most benefit to their businesses search visibility and position on the search engine results page (SERP).

In order to include both mobile and desktop search into marketing strategies, many may be tempted to just transfer campaigns from desktop to mobile and vice versa. However, this won’t deliver the best results as the two platforms often cater to different audiences. Business to consumer brands for example are more likely to receive greater traffic on mobile, whereas business to business brands might experience the opposite. Search marketing strategies must differentiate between desktop and mobile advertising, ensuring all ads are relevant to specific marketplaces and targeted towards combatting competitor activity.

Research vs. Response

The two platforms are typically used for different things. Desktop is mostly used as a direct response platform, while mobile can be both a direct response platform, and a research platform. For example, if a user is looking to buy a particular pair of shoes from a certain shop they might go straight to that shop’s website on desktop to make the purchase. Or if a user is looking to buy home insurance they may begin by researching different insurance providers through their mobile, and buy straight from that search or actually switch devices and use desktop to finish the purchase. Therefore, it’s important for search marketers to segment which terms are going to focus on users researching and which terms are going to engage to deliver a direct response.

Search marketers need to be aware of what people are looking for and how they will search for it on each platform. Next step is to optimise strategies by tailoring ad copy. Without any segmentation, brands will miss the opportunity to deliver a cost effective mobile strategy.

Different platforms, different search terms

When optimising ad copy search marketers need to look at keywords and behaviours from both consumers and advertisers. It is important to recognise that in searches today, some keywords perform differently on mobile than desktop. Both advertisers and consumers behave differently on each device, and it’s important to keep this in mind when developing strategies for mobile and desktop. Marketers need to be aware that people use different search terms on mobile than they do desktop. We’re expecting to see even more differences emerge between the two platforms as new technologies such as geo-targeting and voice search are introduced to the SERP.

Mobile search strategies should deliver straightforward and easily actionable options. When a consumer clicks through a desktop ad, they are most likely prepared to complete an action, whether that is purchasing an item of clothing, signing up for a newsletter or creating a social media account. On mobile, actions must be even more seamless. If a user’s end goal is to contact a company, a search marketer should provide a call button within ad copy through extensions, or provide mobile friendly landing pages with quick loading times.  

As mobile search increases, in order to deliver the most cost efficient blended results for brands, search marketing priorities and strategies will need to change to become not only more heavily cross-device focused, but also more cross-digital focused. To do this most effectively, brands need to understand the search landscape they operate within, and how competitor activity, consumer behaviour and small changes to strategy impacts this. Investing in competitive intelligence tools and technologies will provide brands with the means to observe competitor activity and track their own performance, enabling a real-time data driven approach to search marketing.

Many search marketers with PPC experience are already beginning to expand their expertise towards digital display, paid social and SEO in order to produce successful strategies that will suit both mobile and desktop search needs. To remain ahead of these current search trends, more search marketers will need to use cross-digital tools as well as adopting a data driven approach to in order to remain visible and ensure they don’t drop down the SERP.

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Ian O'Rourke

Ian O'Rourke

Having founded Adthena in June 2012, Ian specialises in the strategic growth of the business. Ian has his finger firmly on the pulse of the rapidly-growing digital marketing landscape and has been involved within the tech industry for the past 20 years in Silicon Valley, Taiwan, England and Australia.

With an Economics degree from the University of Queensland, Ian is proficient in Chinese and an avid rock climber.

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