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Thought leadership

Thriving in the Mobile Age

Oren Eisenberg Author Photo By Oren Eisenberg
Associate Director, Strategy

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Mobile now accounts for two-thirds of all time spent on digital devices. And in 2019, mobile will eclipse TV to become the #1 medium for US adults by share of time spent.

However, the data alone do not tell the full story about our media behavior. This new era is about more than optimizing display media for a smaller screen and building responsive sites. To engage consumers, marketers need to understand evolving user behaviors and how the technology continues to change.

At Evoke, we are always asking: How should brands adapt to best engage the increasingly mobile consumer?

Making Sense of the Data

Mobile is now ubiquitous

91% of Americans who use the Internet now do so regularly via mobile phone, with the vast majority using smartphones, across all age cohorts (even seniors, 65+). Consumers are making the easy and available choice and are grabbing their mobile device for more and more things.

An “artificially low” measure of mobile web browsing

Although it’s true that poor mobile web design can cut mobile sessions short, leading to interrupted experiences or session abandonment, there are more factors at play than just experience quality that impact the length of time that consumers engage.

Browsing behavior differs significantly by device type for a number of reasons. For example, small screens are generally better suited for finding quick answers or completing simple tasks. Since these activities value short session durations, it is therefore natural to see average session times skew shorter.

So for marketers, the days of consumers browsing your website are long gone. Don’t expect mobile users to stray from their intended path easily or for very long.

Getting to the heart of mobile app usage

The overwhelming share of all digital time (59%) is spent using mobile apps—but that doesn’t mean consumers want to use your brand’s app. 50% of total in-app time is logged in the user’s most-used app; these apps are primarily streaming services, social platforms, or other passive content-driven experiences that create repeated reasons to bring us back throughout the day.

This type of user behavior is very different from health-based mobile apps, which tend to be utility driven, do not require frequent sessions from users, and have historically low adoption rates overall. For brands trying to leverage mobile apps as a media channel, we recommend you consider ways of making an impact in existing apps where users already spend their time.

Futureproofing Your Brand Toward the Mobile Consumer

Don’t just dump advertising dollars in mobile. Current benchmarks tell us that mobile display units tend to perform worse than their desktop counterparts in standard metrics across the board. In fact, unless you’re talking about in-app ads, users spend very little time in mobile web environments (7%) where they would encounter this type of ad. Instead, focusing on tactics that deliver more impactful, useful mobile experiences can drive better returns.

So, what should brands do?

1. Double-down on proven tactics with high mobile reach: Mobile excellence can often begin with building on successes in your marketing mix. For instance, increasing investment in channels like social—which has high ROI and mobile share on platforms exceeding 70%—places your advertising in mobile-dominant channels without "reinventing the wheel."

2. Design efficient mobile web experiences that fulfill user needs quickly: Although it may go against traditional marketing mindsets that reward longer engagements as “higher value,” more efficient site sessions that get users in and out quickly with their desired answers in-hand may actually indicate a better brand experience. Develop mobile sites with utility in mind, then continuously optimize towards completion of key actions.

3. Make a targeted play with mobility data: Mobile devices are constantly streaming information about their specific location in the physical world, building rich new data sets for targeting. Mobility unleashes greater potential for marketers to activate more hyper-specific marketing that is “moment-based”—made more relevant to the target’s mindset and likelihood to take action through the added context of setting and location. Utilizing data services that map device relationships can also help marketers match multiple devices to a single user, ensuring advertising continues to grow more targeted even as the user moves between different devices like a smartphone, tablet, or PC.

4. Fine-tune search strategies: When you don’t know something, you Google it. Plan for this new standard behavior by: (1) getting granular to better anticipate hyper-specific search queries to your condition, category, and brand; (2) employing native language keyword strings that help capture voice-enabled search from both mobile and connected devices; (3) exploring voice search activation strategies such as “near me” queries to trigger at moments of relevance in the customer journey; and (4) designing lean web experiences for faster load times that improve search rankings and increase conversion.

5. Tap into new trends that expand the breadth of your media mix: As mobile devices have become more integral parts of our everyday lives, new trends have emerged. Take audio entertainment: streaming audio is now the top mobile app category and podcast listening has surged 40% in the last year. Brands that leverage emerging media channels can often access advertising inventory at greater cost efficiency.

6. Market through content, not media: Native advertising is about investing in the content people want and allowing access to it, not just buying the ads that surround it. By partnering directly with select publishers, advertisers can generate premium sponsored content that doesn’t “feel” like advertising and expand their reach through publishers’ social accounts, email newsletters, and more. These avenues pair perfectly with mobile devices, which may explain why an astounding 91% of native advertising was delivered on mobile devices in Q1 2018.

Is Your Brand Ready?

Let’s have a conversation about how your brand’s engagement strategy can take advantage in the new mobile-first marketing landscape.