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Sales on the Go: How Mobile Marketing is Shaping the Future of E-Commerce

E-commerce clients all have two things in common: they want to sell their goods and they want to sell them online. In 2015, mobile commerce sales were estimated to total a jaw-dropping $104.05 billion (up almost 40 percent from the previous year) and mobile commerce was projected to grow 2.58 faster than e-commerce as a whole. Shopping carts are increasingly virtual in nature and consumers are comfortable buying on the go from the convenience of their smartphones and tablets. Ultimately, it's up to us to find ways to reach these consumers as they continue to shape the future of mobile commerce.

Why You Can't Ignore Mobile

Nearly two-thirds of Americans currently own a smartphone and 19 percent of those smartphone users have limited options other than their phone for accessing the internet. As of July 2015, mobile digital time in the United States outweighed desktop usage. Consider the following statistics, all from the latest Pew Internet survey, concerning the habits of smartphone users over the last year:
  • 62 percent have used their phone to research a medical concern
  • 57 percent use their phone to bank online
  • 44 percent look for rental properties or new real estate
  • 43 percent use their phone to job hunt
  • 30 percent take a class or otherwise get educational material on their mobile device
And it goes on and on and on! As a society, we're getting up and going and we want to take all the convenience of search, social media and online shopping with us. For e-commerce shop owners, it's downright essential to have a mobile presence.

What's Driving Mobile Traffic to E-Commerce Sites

In order for mobile users to spend money on your product or service they first have to find you. Traditional keyword-based SEO still plays an important part in driving website traffic but if you don't incorporate responsive design into your mobile strategy, all the content marketing in the world will be for naught. In early 2015, Google followed up on their late-2014 'Mobile-Friendly Test' offering with an ultimatum: satisfy their new algorithm update with mobile-friendly website design or watch your search rankings plummet. There are several ways to optimize your site for mobile use and some notable pitfalls to avoid. For example, ditch unwieldy Flash videos that are virtually unplayable on most mobile devices and make sure your catalog and shopping cart both work on smaller mobile screens. You can't sell them what they can't see, right?

The Many Different Mobile Channels

Some 40 percent of shoppers in the U.S. consult at least 3 channels before ultimately making a purchase and 52 percent are doing their multi-channel research while actively shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Not all mobile marketing channels are created the same and they shouldn't be treated like they're identical, either. Mobile organic search has already been addressed above, but that still leaves us with the following big three:
  • Mobile Apps: Of the average 162 minutes Americans spend on their mobile devices each day, 86 percent of that time is spent in mobile apps. These self-contained programs are a stellar opportunity to deliver branded content, product information and sales-driven ads in a neat, streamlined and wholly proprietary package.
  • SMS Messaging: You can text customers about sales or follow up on previous purchases with automated feedback requests but some companies are utilizing SMS in new, ingenious ways. The Vinyl Factory sends a daily text to subscribers offering them a chance to buy a featured album by simply replying with the word 'yes.’ This tactic makes the decision easy for their customers, it's as tempting as an impulse buy in the grocery store checkout line and it delivers customized sales offers into the hands of the consumer.
  • Social Media: More than 80 percent of Twitter users log in from their mobile device and Facebook has similar user stats, so if you're going to post ads on social media you had better make sure they're mobile friendly. Luckily, social media advertising can be especially cost-effective, especially on Facebook where one savvy marketer reported an extraordinary 35x ROI.

The case for mobile marketing grows stronger every day. Consumers are on the go, taking their checkbooks and bank cards with them. As businesses work hard to improve their mobile marketing practices, we're bound to experience the future of m-commerce in surprisingly profitable ways.

Guest blog post by Sophorn Chhay, an inbound marketer specializing in attracting targeted visitors and generating sales qualified leads. He works at Trumpia where he helps businesses and organizations communicate effectively with their customers or members.