Get more personal. Be more mobile. And above all, do it fast.

That’s the message to mobile marketers for 2018, say technology trend watchers and data crunchers. The focus next year will be even more niche-oriented and high-speed than in 2017, reflecting the exponential growth of consumers who now use cell phones and tablets as their first – and many times only – search devices.

We already know that people access the internet more from their mobile devices than from their desktops. Time spent online by mobile users has increased over the last several years, too – from 3.1 hours to 5.6 hours a day, according to Mary Meeker’s annual analytics update on internet trends for KCPB. And by 2018, more than half of all consumers will be using mobile devices first for anything they do online, according to Gartner for Marketers.

The message is clear: Go mobile or go home. Here are the top 10 mobile marketing trends you need to know for 2018:

1. Mobile-first indexing is still priority #1

Responding to the growth in mobile searches, Google announced in late 2016 that it would begin indexing websites based on their mobile sites, not their desktop sites. Therefore, for a site to rank highly, its mobile presence needs to reflect the proper content and perform well. A good desktop site is no longer the predominant ranking factor. What does this mean for you?

  • Pages need to load quickly and use responsive design – meaning that the site senses what size and shape device it’s being loaded on
  • Photos and text need to appear where they should
  • Buttons need to work with touch screens
  • The site shouldn’t have to be manipulated with zooming or scrolling to be usable

If you have delayed completing the mobile optimization of your site, you need to devote the resources needed to get it done and keep it updated and accurate. It’s not an option anymore.

2. Smart content improves the mobile user experience

Do you appreciate a retail clerk who makes you feel welcome on your first visit? Do you feel good when a restaurant server greets you as a regular? The digital world is trying to create the same kinds of experiences with personalized content, which means a lot more than ads that cater to something in one of your recent searches.

Instead of every visitor to your website receiving the same experience, smart content
delivers:

  • A welcome to a new customer
  • A welcome back to a former customer
  • A great deal that complements a recent purchase for a return customer

In a yearlong data study of nearly 93,000 CTAs, HubSpot found that those that were personalized were 42 percent more successful than those that were not.

3. Mobile speed matters

Optimizing your site for mobile doesn’t just mean cleaning it up code-wise; it also means paying attention to the speed with which it loads and improving it when necessary. Think about it: If you pick up your smartphone to perform a search and find yourself looking at a blank screen, what do you do?
If you’re like most people, you bounce. In fact:

  • Research by DoubleClick says that if a page takes more than three seconds to load, the bounce rate rises to 53 percent
  • Think With Google found that if a page’s loading time goes from one second to five seconds, the bounce rate goes up by 90 percent

That means conversions fall accordingly.

Ninety percent. Do we have your attention yet? Good. Get started by checking your site’s speed at Think With Google.

4. Know your target audience’s micro-moments

Since we’re talking about speed, we need to talk about micro-moments. What are they? They are the numerous moments during the day when a consumer instinctively reaches for their smartphone to find something – a tutorial on fixing a plumbing problem, a recipe for dinner, a video on that day’s news events, the answer to a trivia question, the location of a local store. In those moments, quick as they may be, a user is turning to the internet for an answer, which gives you a chance to build loyalty and credibility.

But these are all small things, you say. How important can they be? Think With Google defines these as “I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do and I-want-to-buy moments,” and its research shows that 96 percent of users now reach for their smartphones in those moments.

5. Location-targeted ads are paramount to mobile marketing success

These are micro-moments of a different sort. You’ve seen the commercials from an internet dating site that shows you when someone compatible is nearby? This can happen because the site’s consumers allow themselves to be tracked by the location of their smartphones; when two of them with similar profiles find themselves in the same coffee shop or museum, the site notifies them.

Overall, local searches – also called “near-me” searches – are growing at a 50 percent higher rate than general mobile searches, according to Search Engine Land.

The possibilities of this are wide open and include:

  • Google and Mapquest can pinpoint ads on their maps along a searcher’s route
  • In a retail store, a brand can send a coupon to shoppers, notify them of that day’s sales or recommend a product based on their purchase history

6. Develop an app – if it makes sense & provides value

Has your company developed an app? If so, that’s smart. An app is like a little piece of visual real estate on your users’ smartphones or tablets. It acts like your own direct marketing channel, provides extra value for return customers and increases customer engagement. If you don’t have an app going into 2018, consider getting one.

Here comes the caveat: Make sure your app meets (and continues to meet) your customers’ expectations. Take these stats into consideration:

  • The Data and Marketing Association’s 2017 Statistical Fact Book says that almost a fifth of consumers have deleted apps because they aren’t useful
  • TechCrunch and HelpShift say 80 percent of apps are deleted after just one use

Apps now number in the millions; those that don’t work seamlessly, offer high value and have exceptional content are not going to survive.

7. Leverage micro-influencers

Don’t confuse micro-influencers with micro-moments, although both deal with niche performance. Micro-influencers are people who – due to such things as their position in the public eye, their expertise in a certain subject, or their blog – can affect the way specific groups of people think.

A bit more about this important group:

  • Micro-influencers are those people who have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers (as opposed to macro-influencers, who have millions)
  • Micro-influencers have loyal followers who share their passion – in fact, micro-influencers are four times more likely to get comments and interaction from their followers than are their macro counterparts, Markerly reports
  • A staggering 83 percent of consumers worldwide trust (what they see as) peer recommendations, while only 36 percent trust mobile text ads, Nielsen reports

In other words, your target mobile audience will take their suggestions – but only if you’re leveraging micro-influencers in the first place.

8. Live-streaming is a huge mobile opportunity

Maybe you’ve seen the notifications; so-and-so has started a live video on Facebook,
Twitter or Instagram, behooving you to join the feed before it’s over. Sure, you’ll see plenty of sports clips, behind-the-scenes celeb scoops or even just puppies chasing their tails, but don’t get lost in the weeds here. The power of live-streaming video is our curiosity about what we’ll miss if we don’t check in.

Live streaming gives people the human connection they want with the brands they follow. There’s a pseudo-intimacy involved, even though the video is being broadcast to thousands or even millions of people. Check out the numbers:

  • 81 percent of consumers on mobile devices watched more live video in 2016 than in the year before, according to LiveStream
  • 80 percent would rather watch live video than read a blog post
  • 82 percent prefer live video over social posts

9. Artificial intelligence is a growing force

AI tools like chatbots, data analysis algorithms, personalized recommendation systems and predictive analytics are driving better content, which marketers can leverage for their mobile marketing campaigns. This is especially true in areas where the content and format can be tightly controlled. Look what the experts are saying:

  • AI and big data technology is driving the current insights revolution, Forrester reports
  • By 2020, AI will revolutionize the marketing industry, DemandBase predicts
  • A virtual digital assistant will be on more than 3.3 billion devices by 2020, Tractica projects

10. Google is still the 500-pound gorilla in the mobile search room

In 2017, NetMarketShare reported that Google carried 96 percent of all mobile search traffic, while Yahoo carried two percent and Bing carried one percent. And that’s an increase over 2016, when Google’s share was 94 percent. If you’re trying to get your site rankings up, it’s Google’s algorithms that need to rule your agenda.

Are you a mobile marketing trends watcher?

Mobile is only increasing in importance for 2018. If you need to be on top of the biggest mobile marketing trends, then you need to attend a Digital Summit conference. Digital Summit events bring together industry experts and thought leaders for two days of big-name keynote speakers, educational workshops and excellent networking opportunities. Contact us to learn more.