Search is Going Mobile in a Big Way

Search is going mobile in a big way, not due to the changes in Google’s algorithm that took effect yesterday, but because that is the device people are actually choosing to make searches from.

60 percent of local searches take place on a smart phone or tabletFact is that most of the local searches, 60 percent, now take place from a smartphone or tablet. (Local Search Association)

Google’s change in their algorithm is a response to how people actually search in an effort to improve results. Yesterday they updated their algorithm to include data on whether a site is mobile-friendly or not.  This means that the search results from mobile devices will include whether a site is mobile friendly or not in determining their rankings. Google is responding to changes in consumer behavior to improve their product.

Businesses that are prepared with mobile friendly web sites will benefit and those that are not will lose ground.

Regardless of the changes Google made yesterday, businesses that are not prepared are most likely already feeling the negative effects of not having mobile friendly offerings for their business. Consumers find web sites built for desktop viewing as clunky and unfriendly on mobile devices and are quick to abandon them. Additionally, sites built for desktop viewing are rarely optimized to load fast and often users well bounce before the site even loads.

Consumers’ expectations and habits are changing and businesses must keep up. The trends are clear, not only is search from mobile devices growing rapidly but according to the Local Search Association, only 40 percent of adults in the US now use PCs to search for products or service locally, which is a 9% decline from 2014. On the other hand, 90 percent of all users said they have used mobile devices while in stores, additionally, 52 percent have used smartphones to perform searches while in an automobile.

Furthermore, this same study also indicated that 54 percent of users have used their smartphone to look for specials while in a store and 51 percent have used it to compare prices.

It isn’t just about getting found on the search engines, people feel more favorably towards your brand when you offer satisfying experiences and this applies to your mobile web site as well.  When your mobile web site offers an optimized user experience it builds trust and improves engagement.

Unfortunately, if your mobile web site is difficult to use customers are likely to head to your competition rather than taking the time to go sit down at a desk top computer to use your web site.  If you can’t provide your customers want, you will lose the opportunity for a sale and even more importantly, risk losing customers permanently.

Photo: Matti Mattila (Flikr) http://bit.ly/1QfhP8j

3 Tips to Improve Your Mobile Apps’ Shopping Experience

According to recent study by Flurry, mobile application usage saw significant growth over the past year, with application usage overall up by an astounding 76 percent in 2014. It should be noted that Flurry defines app usage as users opening and actively engaging with an application.

While every app store category saw growth, the top app growth categories where: Shopping, Utilities & Productivity and Messaging. Meanwhile on the other side of the coin, growth has slowed some for the categories that were the strongest in the early days of mobile applications: Games, Music, Media and Entertainment categories.

Shopping apps saw the most improved growth of any category of mobile appShopping apps were clearly the star of the show in 2014. Growth within the shopping category was larger than in any other category. Looking at iOS and Android combined the number of sessions in the shopping apps category increased by a phenomenal 174 percent in 2014 (Flurry).

More and more, users are not only just getting more comfortable with shopping from mobile devices but they are demanding better tools and experiences from mobile shopping experiences. Consumers today are comparison shopping, checking out coupons and offers, reading and writing reviews, engaging in social shopping, buying & reselling and more, all from their mobile devices.

With shopping apps becoming increasingly more popular it is important that you are creating exceptional experiences for your users or risk losing ground to your competition.

These 3 tips can help you improve your shopping mobile applications.

Focus on Content

Showcase your content rather than hiding it behind unnecessary flourishes and overstated branding elements. Don’t focus so much on superfluous design elements that the content takes a secondary role. Reducing clutter can improve the shopping experience as well as focusing attention on relevant content. Mobile application developers are improving user experiences all the time and can suggest cutting edge methods for presenting navigation in a clean fashion that doesn’t distract from the user experience.

Personalize

Smart phones are personal devices, which lend themselves to applications that allow user to personalize the application and its activities. Users are comfortable interacting with brands about individual preferences in order to improve their user experience; with this data you can create a tailored experience that increases engagement.

Leverage Technology

Don’t be afraid to integrate new technology into your mobile shopping app. Mobile wallets and iBeacons are examples of technologies you can utilize to improve the experience your customers have while on your application.

Photo: John Karakatsanis (Flikr) http://bit.ly/1IzgB2m

Keys to Taking a Mobile First Approach

It has become obvious to even the most casual observer that mobile is no longer considered a second screen by many consumers. Given the enormous growth of smart phone usage and improvements in mobile applications, it is easy to see why many feel that this trend that will only continue to accelerate.

Research backs up casual observation. According to a recent study by comScore, 56% of all time spent online by consumers engaged in retail activity in the U.S. takes place via a mobile device.

Consider how your user will use your mobile application It seems that mobile no longer is the second screen in the minds of consumers.

Yet interestingly enough in 2014 only 16% of companies strongly agree that they are prepared to meet customers’ mobile expectations (CMO Council). There is clearly a great opportunity here for businesses willing to meet the needs of consumers.

Consumer expectations have changed, along with the way that they access and interact with information. Businesses have no choice but to adjust as well. The modern consumer cannot be expected to sit down at their computer to interact with a business or to finalize tasks there. Mobile applications must offer consumers the seamless, stand alone experiences that they are looking for.

Unfortunately, as the research suggests, far too many businesses view mobile the way many viewed web sites a decade ago, ignoring customer experience, personalization, analytics, location based features and many of the opportunities available due to mobile applications.

How does one take a mobile first approach?

Optimize for the form factor – Key to providing the mobile experiences that your customers are looking for is understanding the form factors of the mobile devices your customers are using and providing content in a format that is intuitive for your users to access at that size. Your users interact with mobile applications in particular ways and a mobile first approach carefully considers these items. Mobile application developers can help you understand trends in the industry and help you avoid creating an app with outdated style or functionality that runs counter to what mobile application users are used to doing.

Optimize content for your users needs – Additionally you must remember that mobile users are looking for content that is relevant and contextually meaningful. Personalization increase reliance and engagement.

Businesses looking to contact an Android application developer or an iPhone application developer should make sure that they are building applications for the future that take into account what users are looking for. This includes planning to deliver personalized shopping experiences to your customers on mobile devices in an intuitive fashion.

Photo: Yutaka Tsutano (Flikr) http://bit.ly/1ODgneb