Digital marketing agency with a strong foundation in SEM Founded in 2003 and acquired by Omnicom (OMC) in 2005 Omnicom’s only dedicated search marketing agency Four US office locations: Chicago*, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco
The questions that our clients come to us with and the questions that this panel tries to answer are these.
To answer these questions I’m going to go through a brief history of mobile search and then go through some of the research highlights prior to 2010. The bulk of what I’m going to talk about is smartphone search behavior 2010 and beyond. I’m going to close with some things that marketers should be thinking about regarding mobile search behavior in the future, and with some best practices that they can implement today.
When we’re talking about mobile search behavior, it can differ dramatically based on device type, query type, platform type, etc. so you have to be careful about statistics that say “mobile searchers do this…”. A lot of the research that has been done on mobile search to date has been done with devices that are already outmoded, and a lot of what we know today could be irrelevant in another ten years.
Nonetheless, much of what has been written about mobile searchers by search engines still applies. From 2006-2009 there were 6 studies that are still relevant to marketers, starting with a large scale study of wireless search behavior in 2006. They’re not written for marketers, so I’ve read them and pulled out some highlights in the next slide.
In the largest logs based study to date, Yahoo! defined Entertainment as a top category, rather than local Several studies identified mobile users as being more task oriented, which conflicts a bit with the entertainment classification, but it doesn’t mean that mobile users can’t be both focused on entertainment in some contexts and tasks in another Several studies identified search behavior as relating to trivia that needs to be solved now, and immediate context searches like driving directions, etc Categories are similar across desktop and smartphone, more so than across feature phone and desktop One study identified good abandonment rates in mobile search, which could mean that for certain queries clicks are not necessarily the best metric to define success
The next few slides are observations of search behavior in the last year, and all of it should be relevant to marketers today.
Data from Covario late last year showed that mobile searchers are twice as likely to search for your brand name than desktop users. What we’ve seen is that navigational searches are likely in mobile. One takeaway from this for marketers is that buying brand terms may be more important in mobile search than it is in desktop search, particularly with the low quality search results that brands often have for their mobile terms due to SEO issues.
You can see here a snapshot of the top 25 Google mobile queries that we assembled based on 34k keywords that the Adwords mobile keyword tool suggested. From it, you can see that Facebook and social networking is top of mind in mobile, with 5 of the queries being Facebook navigational terms, and 10 of them for social networks in general. To underscore the point about mobile search and desktop search being different, at least 3 of the top 25 keywords are mobile-specific sites, and wouldn’t appear in the same list for desktop keywords.
They got into this a bit yesterday in the mobile ads session, but it’s important to note that not only do the keywords differ when it comes to mobile search, but the times that people search vary as well. This is a Google slide that demonstrates that many users are not just searching on a mobile device or a computer, but both, at different times.
When it comes to engagement and good abandonment in mobile, we would expect organic CTR to mirror what advertisers are seeing in paid search, which is lower CTR as searchers find what they’re looking for without clicking. However, we’ve found the opposite with organic search, in that click through rates are typically much higher. You can see here one example broken down by branded versus nonbranded terms which shows a mobile CTR as high as 52% for brand, compared to 9% on desktop. Likewise, the nonbranded CTR was ten times higher than desktop CTR, at 30%.
And we can see that this really isn’t an anomaly for most of our clients. On the left you see a click distribution study that was done recently for desktop, and on the right we have a similar, but slightly different study for smartphone search, based on 26k smartphone keywords over 6 domains in different industries for 30 days. What this demonstrates is that most clicks happen in the first two positions, as on desktop, and that the CTR for the first position is 56% on average, but that, unlike desktop search, CTR remains high beyond that. What this means for marketers optimizing for organic search is that even with 10% of the overall query volume, mobile search can drive a significant amount of traffic.
This wasn’t done specifically for mobile searchers, but Adobe has put out a study that demonstrates that mobile smartphone users prefer mobile sites, and that they convert at a higher rate when given mobile content. If you’re not giving mobile content to mobile users, you probably have fewer sales than you would otherwise.
Not only are mobile searches different than desktop searches, but certain types of mobile searches are different than each other. One example of this is voice search. Maryam Garrett, who did a lot of the important mobile research for Google recently released a study on why people use voice search, which showed that voice queries are more local in nature and represent an immediate need. They’re also longer, at 5-6 words. And we also know from Google that many people are using voice search, with a quarter of Android users regularly searching by voice. It’s still pretty early to understand how this will affect marketers, but there may be techniques such as building out phonetic paid search campaigns, that can help with these specific types of queries.
Another mode of input Android users have that desktop users do not is gesture search. At this point it’s a desktop search tool that doesn’t have many implications for marketers, but recent Google research has shown that users are finding things like apps and bookmarked sites with it, which can be controlled by marketers. Encouraging users to bookmark your mobile site, for example, could make it more visible to mobile users in gesture search, and auto complete.
A lot of people are building apps these days, so it’s a competitive market. You can see from the top app store keywords put out by getjar that app search keywords differ from mobile web search keywords. We also know from app search engine Chomp that most people search by app function rather than app name, and that most people search for apps most at night and on weekends. Marketers can use this information when optimizing or advertising apps to mobile users.
I know this is a lot of information, and hopefully it starts to give you a sense that users search differently on mobile devices than they do on desktop devices. One of the best ways that we’ve found to take all this data and make it actionable is by creating search personas with the data. We have proprietary technology called ClearTarget that aggregates and weights the data, allowing us to build search personas. There’s also a good description on how to do something similar on a budget in Vanessa Fox’s book Marketing in the Age of Google. Either way we find it’s a good way to really take what you know about your users and put it to work for you.
As I said, mobile search behavior is changing as devices and search gets more sophisticated. A few things you should be thinking about for the future are…
Finally, here are a few things you can do today to start taking advantage of this mobile-specific search behavior.
MOBILE SEARCH BEHAVIOR: IMPLICATIONS FOR MARKETERS
Multiplatform Search Behavior, SMX West, March 9, 2011
Associate Director, Content Solutions
We Deliver Digital Solutions For The World’s Top Brands
Brand-loyal CTR for relevant category more than 5x higher than desktop
Brand-agnostic CTR almost 10x higher
Source: Google Webmaster Tools data
Organic Engagement with Smartphone Search Results Smartphone CTR by position Desktop click distribution Source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/06/prweb4184374.htm , Smartphone CTR per position for 26k keywords over 6 domains in different industries for 30 days