Data Transforms Digital Media and Creative

Is Mobile Killing High ROI Digital Tactics?

Two of the most important aspects of digital marketing are email and search. The return on investment for these two tactics are above and beyond all other forms of digital marketing: On average, search returns $22 on the dollar while email delivers $44 for every dollar spent¹.

Mobile ROI chart
It is no surprise that for anyone looking to sell online, these two tactics often make up the lion’s share of their profits. At BCM, we’ve recently noticed some dramatic changes in these two fields that portend a shift to a more mobile-dominated world. Surprisingly, given the importance of these two channels, we have not seen as much of a shift in many companies’ approach to search and email in a mobile world. Core desktop search has been on a consistent decline since August 2012 when it failed to grow YOY for the first time since comScore began tracking it². Even in a Q4 that saw record online sales, core desktop search was down YOY from 2011. December’s numbers declined by 3.33% and November’s were down over 5%³. So where did all these searchers go? Are people searching less? Quite the contrary.

People are searching more than ever – they are just using multiple devices to do it. Mobile search is on the rise in a big way. It is estimated that a quarter of all search clicks are now from mobile devices⁴ and this number is increasing rapidly. These numbers not only indicate the rise of information seeking on the go, but they underscore the necessity of having mobile-optimized websites and landing pages. Email trends paint a similar picture: mobile open rates are set to eclipse desktop rates by March 2013. Email share of opens Desktop vs Mobile For some clients, a mobile dominant email channel is already a reality with over 50% of their opens happening on mobile devices. Do you know your mobile open rate? You should. While it may not have reached the tipping point yet, odds are that it will soon. Even for verticals where mobile open rates might be lower, the fact that 25-35% of your audience is reading your email on their mobile device should cause you to consider what type of experience they are having and whether or not your current approach to tracking and optimization is comprehensive enough to account for this fact.

Whether your customer base has gone mobile or is still in a transition phase, what should give every marketer pause is the fact that recent studies show that 70% of consumers delete emails immediately that don’t render well on a mobile device⁵, and only 2.4% of people read an email later on another device once they have read it initially⁶. Email messages designed strictly for desktop viewing are no longer sufficient. Accurate rendering on mobile screens should be a prime objective for all email communications. Details such as email clients, screen resolutions, alt attributes, media queries, and touch-enabled design should all be considered. For many clients, a “mobile first” approach to email makes the most sense. Adapting content to display well on screens both big and small (responsive design) is certainly a good idea—and is becoming more prevalent—but it is not the be-all end-all of email marketing in the mobile age and actually not one of the biggest challenges.

While responsive design has emerged as a hero, many marketers are still falling short in terms of tracking their mobile marketing efforts. Tracking is a key responsibility for digital marketers. Email and paid search rose to prominence at least in part due to their ability to be tracked at a very granular level. Clicks from search ads and emails can be tracked through to purchase quite easily using most online analytics packages. While conversions on a mobile site can still be tracked this way with a little effort, in our work focusing on mobile devices we have found that the preferred response channel for the phone is often the phone. Customers, particularly those using smartphones, often prefer to call and close the deal versus pick their way through a mobile optimized (or not) site experience.

Mobile ROI pie chart One way of using the phone as a response channel is custom 800 number tracking. Sophisticated paid search and email programs implement this custom solution in order to track conversions accurately. Without the ability to tie in phone calls alongside other online high value actions, it is unlikely you are getting everything you could be out of your marketing spend. If your current tracking and optimization efforts do not include a robust call-tracking component alongside a mobile site experience, you are not only undercounting your results, but as mobile usage increases your understanding of what is working and what is not will only grow less clear. Companies that understand the importance of solid call tracking solutions alongside their traditional analytics are going to be the companies that succeed in the mobile marketing age.

Curious about call tracking? We implemented a dynamic 800 number tracking solution to tie online research with purchases. Contact us to find out more.


¹Direct Marketing Association (DMA) The Power of Direct Marketing Report, 2011-2012 ²³comScore qSearch August 2012 – December 2012 ⁴The Search Agency, “The State of Paid Search: Q4 2012 ⁵Blue Hornet, “The Consumer View of Email Marketing”, April 2012 ⁶Experian “Email Market Study: Email acquisition and engagement tactics”, December 2012

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Kerry Channon

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