Mobile commerce is fast-paced, competitive and the rules of engagement are constantly changing. But this secret weapon can help your retail traffic and revenues soar.
Mobile commerce is a fast-growing business with tons of upside. For many of us, this is not news. For instance, mobile payments are trending up: Tech In Asia notes that as of 2012, users spent $12B in mobile payments, up to more than $90B in early 2017. M-commerce sales are also expected to rise this year: eMarketer predicts that US m-commerce sales from smartphones will grow from 58% last year to 65% this year.
So, for those of us already in mobile commerce, the secret to success is just showing up to work...and waiting for profits to pile up by themselves. Right? Not exactly. We know that mobile is a highly competitive business, but it’s also one that’s afflicted by a peculiar gap. Americans check their phones 8 billion times per day, yet while adult shoppers spend 59% of their time browsing on phones rather than desktops, they spend only 15% of their dollars on mobile.
Why this gap? As has been extensively documented, smartphone shopping experiences are less than ideal. Small screen sizes don’t always provide an adequate picture of pricey consumer items; loading times and speed vs. unreliable Wi-Fi or LTE connections often lead busy customers to lose interest; and not all customers feel secure about sharing personal and financial information over mobile - all issues that those of us in m-commerce know only too well. In addition, customers are, more than ever, increasingly adding “webrooming” to their purchasing decision process - that is, the act of extensively researching purchases online before even thinking about making a purchase. As Wired points out, 69% of 18-36 year-old smartphone owners have webroomed, while only half have “showroomed” (actually visited a physical shop location).
So let’s review what we know so far:
- M-commerce has tons of upside
- Customers are increasingly using their phones to research shopping purchases
- Conversions are still problematic due to user experience and the increased practice of using mobile for research rather than purchase
- There remains a significant gap between smartphone shopping activity and actual sales
Aside from improving the user experience for m-commerce - a constant imperative for those of us who work in the space - is there another strategy or avenue to explore that can help us drive more sales? As it happens, there is.
Enter Google Shopping - the massively popular e-commerce solution created by the Search giant itself. Google Shopping is on a growth rampage, showing 52% revenue growth and 160% sales growth overall for 2016. The New York Times reports that more than half of all retailer ad clicks come from Product Listing Ads, the specialized ad units used for Google Shopping. This is a powerful growth category for both traffic and clicks.
That’s all well and good, but why should m-commerce professionals look into Google Shopping? Two important factors:
- Screen real estate - Don’t take our word for it. Do a quick Google search on your phone for any kind of product and you’ll see how PLAs take up half your screen or more. Add your ZIP code to your query to see how map-based listings, in addition to ads, dominate your entire search engine results page (SERP) experience. Provided you can effectively bid for PLAs to get your listings at the top of the page, your products enjoy powerful placement with ever-growing click-through.
- Google Shopping is driven by customer intent - Because of the intent-based nature of Search, customers are less likely to tune out relevant messaging for products and services for which they’re actively looking. Online advertising continues to be a thorny subject for advertisers, customers and even Google, which recently announced a built-in “ad filter” for a future version of America’s most popular browser, Chrome. 1 in 5 smartphone users have used an ad blocker and the numbers continue to rise.
However, 4 out 5 users have stated an actual preference for relevant ads that are tailored to them with regards to their location. More importantly, 76% of customers who run a “near me” mobile search visit a storefront within 24 hours, and 28% of them make a purchase. This is intent-driven marketing that directly connects users who are already interested in purchasing
with the products and services on which they’re ready to spend cold, hard cash.
PLAs represent a huge opportunity for smart retailers to reach millions of mobile users. No wonder other publishers, including Microsoft Bing, Facebook, Ebay and even Amazon are all getting on board with their own versions of these powerful ad units.
Interested in learning more about PLAs? For an in-depth walk-through on these high-opportunity ad units, please see our blog series on how to “Become an Expert at Google Shopping.”
About the Author
Andrew Park is a content marketing manager at QuanticMind. A UC Berkeley graduate and lifelong Bay Area resident, Andrew has done tours of duty in editorial, PR and marketing, and now works with the QuanticMind team to communicate the importance of data science and machine learning in digital advertising.More Content by Andrew Park