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Mobilegeddon and Digital Darwinism: Don’t Go the Way of the Dodo

Jon Billett

“It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

By now you’ve probably heard the news: on April 21, Google will give a significant boost to mobile-friendly websites in their search rankings, and downgrade results for sites that offer a lackluster mobile experience. This applies to all mobile searches in all languages worldwide.

That’s right, friends. Mobilegeddon is upon us. Starting next week, you will be penalized for not having a mobile-friendly website. E-commerce marketers: if you expect this change to negatively impact your business, or if you’re scrambling to pick up your mobile game in this 11th hour, it’s time to take your Digital Transformation more seriously (FYI: Digital Transformation is a real thing. The Altimer Group defines it as: “The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle”).

To add more context to Mobilegeddon’s impact, consider this: as of April 21st, e-commerce brands lacking a Google-approved mobile presence will be missing out on the nearly one-third of e-commerce traffic that originates from mobile. One-third. And yes, mobile converts at a much lower rate than tablet or desktop, but the consumer is searching on mobile for a reason, likely to research prior to purchase. Ignoring these consumers takes you out of the running one-third of the time. Ouch.

To back up what we preach, we dove into Google Keyword Planner and did an quick analysis of e-commerce search trends. We chose four popular retail verticals and looked at four common search terms within each:

  1. Electronics: Headphones, Smart Watch, HD TV, Laptop
  2. Clothing: Nike Sneakers, Air Jordans, Jeans, Socks
  3. Jewelry: Engagement Ring, Gift, Diamond Earrings, Watches
  4. Hardware: Drill, Hammer, Saw, Tool Box

Within the four verticals we examined, mobile searches saw a YOY average increase of 51% between 2013 and 2014. 2015 is sure to see yet another spike due to mobile/phablet sales continuing to rise while PC and desktop sales continue their long, slow death march. So that one-third we mentioned earlier? Assume that share of mobile search will grow to one-half well before 2016 comes to a halt.

This is user experience Digital Darwinism at its finest. The sophisticated, tech-savvy consumer demands content and experiences relevant to their contextual preferences, environment and technology, and will engage with brands that provide that personalization. Don’t go the way of the Dodo (or the Dinosaur. Or the Jamaican Giant Galliwasp); pick up your mobile game and return to favor with Google and your customers.

Not yet as mobile-friendly as you want to be? Google has all of the tools you need to get started in their Mobile Guide for Google Developers. Here you can take a pretty neat mobile-friendly test that will analyze your site URLs and assess their mobile friendliness. They also provide great documentation with technical information, information about third-party software and advice for working with a developer – all aimed at assisting you in getting your website mobile-friendly and ready to roll.

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