For the past several years, there have been studies showing the sales figures for online buying through the holiday season. This is a distinction that will start its ebb slide this year. Going forward, I expect to see sales and lead attribution models that display results for online, retail, and “both”.
InsightExpress released its “Mobile Consumer Research: 3Q 2011 Digital Consumer Portrait” recently, and the behavior we’re seeing is representative of nothing less than, to borrow a buzzword from a few years ago, convergence.
When the term “convergence” was bandied about ever so many years ago, it was typically used to tie your computer into your tv viewing habits (everybody remember the Pontiac/Google ad?). What we’re seeing now is the true, actual merger of the online and offline retail experience thanks to mobile.
Some great data points:
- 67% of men and 54% of women expected to grab their phone before they speak with a salesperson. Not surprising considering the level of customer service out there, but also not surprising when you know that the information you can get on your phone is accurate – and without having to hassle with a temp holiday worker. Factor in price shopping,, and comparison – all functions highly referenced in the InSightExpress study – and your customers can physically browse through your store and virtually browse your competitors’ stores (both online and off).
- The majority of both men and women said they would check reviews. User generated content like ratings and reviews are huge now from both an SEO and desktop search perspective, but the focus on generating reviews (both positive and negative) for the “on the go” shopper is vital both for products and locations as this is content that’s being consumed by your customers en masse.
But it’s not all wine and roses. Most users still think smartphones still have security problems, along with other issues around the connection speed and general mobile access. Further, a recent Performics report showed that those retailers that are driving this convergence with apps, mobile friendly sites, and solid consumer reviews, are also driving up Search costs. A core retail group observed by Performics observed a full 1/3rd increase in cost per click the first week of May and saw a nearly doubling in budget and a 43% increase in click through rate. My suspicion is that these retailers have much better insight into true Return on Investment metrics – both online and offline – and can therefore increase their spend leaving their competitors in a “do or die” scenario. The alternative being that they’re throwing money at a wall to see what sticks (entirely possible…)
Regardless, the behavior we’re seeing plainly tells us that mobile is vital for retail – and where retail goes, the rest of the search space ultimately follows. Why? Because going to the mall at Christmas sucks. Any opportunity to make that easier will be executed, and once a searcher sees success with their personal searches, they’ll utilize that same behavior elsewhere.
So – for retailers – if you aren’t heavily engaged in mobile, time to do it – sites, reviews, listings, product descriptions, apps – get on it. For those companies not in the retail space, now is the time to get your plans together for 2012. Get your tools together. Make sure you have a mobile strategy – not a standalone, but one that integrates directly into your overall marketing strategy (including ROI and all those little details). Understand what your thresholds are for Paid Search – what is a good click cost, and what’s just silly. For mobile convergence, it’s not too late for retail, and the time is just right for everyone else.