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As has been the case for the past while, the start of a new year brings a whole host of predictions, rich with content about the importance of mobile (thankfully, this year we avoided the dreaded 'year of mobile' proclamations).  

For PPC campaigns this year, one of the key challenges will be ensuring that the opportunity for increased sales via mobile traffic is efficiently and profitably taken.

Before we focus specifically on PPC traffic, there have been some really interesting statistics published recently to help put into context just how important mobile traffic will be this year:

  • 61% of shoppers used a smartphone before a shopping trip, spending more on average than those who didn't. 
  • In 2013, the percentage of in-store sales where mobile phones were used as part of the shopping journey in the UK stood at 6.8%. This equates to £18bn of sales, a figure 45% up on 2012.
  • For John Lewis, sales from click-and-collect jumped 60% compared with 2012.
  • In the grocery market, as much as 15% of UK sales, worth £900m, is thought to have been booked online between 20 and 23 December.
  • Rising consumer confidence coupled with the convenience of purchasing on a hand-held device has contributed to 50% of year-to-year mobile commerce growth in 2013 over 2012. 
  • 40% of all PLA (product listing advert) clicks will occur on smartphones by the close of 2014.

As expected, the trend of visits continues in an upwardly motion, but importantly, the role of mobile traffic in the path to purchase is becoming more important (be it by influencing decisions, or as is happening more and more, the purchase itself).  

So, to quickly set the scene for optimising your mobile PPC, here's a...

...brief introduction to AdWords Enhanced Campaigns 

In mid-2013, Google completed the migration to Enhanced Campaigns, a format designed to allow you to better integrate your cross-device strategies.

Previous to this, many PPC experts had segmented their campaigns based on the device (one for desktop, one for tablet, one for mobile). Although this was the preferred method, it's perhaps sub-optimal, requiring up-keeping three times as many campaigns.

Enhanced campaigns introduced a number of 'mobile-specific' features – most notably, the 'bid multiplier'. What did this mean? Rather than having set a separate amount, your mobile bids would just be a factor of your overall bid (for example, a bid of -100% would turn off mobile activity).

Initial reactions were that this was a less flexible solution, but I've found some features to be highly useful for improving the mobile side of AdWords campaigns.

Three important strategies for improving your mobile AdWords results

To make the most of what is clearly now a huge opportunity, what strategies should you be including as part of your PPC campaign in 2014?  

Below I outline three areas for consideration as part of your overall PPC strategy:

Use insightful reporting

At a very basic level, you should be clear about the split of traffic/cost/revenue between different device types.  

How much traffic is coming from mobile and how does its behaviour compare to desktop and tablet?

To get more insight, we need to start considering the role of mobile in the user journey.

There are plenty of figures around which help to understand why we expect to see a lower conversion rate from mobile visitors: along with reservations about purchasing (#fact#) on a mobile device, the role of mobile visits can be slightly different, giving a need for understanding the value of these visits in the path to conversion.

For single-device paths, we can get good visibility of the touch-points, for example, using the Model Comparison Tool or Multi-Channel Funnels features of Google Analytics:

For cross-device paths, it becomes a lot more difficult for cookie-based tracking to provide this kind of detail. What we do have for AdWords campaigns are Estimated Conversions.  

In Google's own words:

Cross-device conversions start as a click on a search ad on Google.com on one device and end as a conversion on another device (or in a different web browser on the same device). 

For example, say someone shops for 'blue jeans' on her mobile phone while waiting for the morning train. She clicks on a mobile ad for ABC Blue Jeans.  hen she gets to her office, she goes directly to the ABC website to make a purchase.

This is an example of a cross-device conversion. We calculate cross-device conversions using a sample of data from users who signed into multiple devices.

The last part in bold is important to understand: the 'estimation' of your conversion is achieved by aggregating data from a sample set of signed-in Google users.

By analysing data across thousands of advertisers. Google estimates incremental conversions can be somewhere between 2% and 12% depending on vertical.

In AdWords, this report would look something like this:

 

Taking the full picture into account allows you to make better decisions about your bidding strategies, and when you can see the full value, it enables you to make a better case for pushing for greater mobile presence.

Tailoring your campaigns for mobile

Given we have good awareness of differences in user behaviour depending on the current device in use, we should cater to this by ensuring the advertising is tailored specifically to mobile users.

There are a few options for doing this in AdWords:

Mobile-optimised ads:

Selecting that an advert's device preference is 'Mobile' means that this specific advert will be shown to mobile users. This is useful for ensuring your proposition appeals to the mobile user.  

Examples of tailoring ads could be:

  • Calls-to-action which appeal to mobile users (e.g. 'Mobile friendly site').
  • Specific offers which appeal specifically to mobile users.
  • Using shorter, more direct ad copy if 'click-to-call' buttons are truncating your text:

Mobile-only sitelinks:

It can be well worth creating differing strategies for your mobile and for desktop/tablet sitelinks.  Considerations for mobile sitelinks are:

there are only two shown, ensure that your two key sitelinks are given priority on mobile searches

deep-linking to sites of the section specifically to help mobile users quickly navigate the site (e.g. highlighting the 'Best sellers' or 'New Range' pages could help 'fast-forward' the user journey)

Be pro-active about improving landing page performance

As the lower mobile-site conversion can be a barrier which is limiting your exposure (by making competitive bid prices unprofitable), review the landing pages and find areas of opportunity.

But this is a PPC article, not a conversion optimisation piece? Something I've learned through the years of handling PPC campaigns is that, by the nature of the beast (i.e. repeatedly firing traffic at a site and measuring its value), you develop a really valuable, granular view of how well a page is performing, which helps identify issues and areas for improvement.

When conversion is hindering your PPC performance, raise awareness of the issues and, when possible, suggest solutions. A good PPC account manager cares deeply about post-click activity.

Conclusion

Hopefully you've picked up some useful thoughts on how to go about improving your mobile PPC presence and results over the next year.

Do you have any favoured strategies for succeeding with mobile PPC campaigns? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

David Fothergill

Published 11 February, 2014 by David Fothergill

David Fothergill is Project Director at QueryClick and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. He can also be found on Twitter and Google+

3 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

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Jordan McClements

Do you have any further info on mobile ad text / calls to action which does work / doesn't work ?

over 2 years ago

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