I’ll cut to the chase: Your audience is changing, regulations are shifting in weird ways, and markets are softening. The old ways aren’t doing as well as they used to, or at the very least, aren’t growing in a sustainable way for the long-term, making your day-to-day even more intense, and your end-goals & exit strategies even more time-consuming.
No one’s at fault here, we all know growth is an unending struggle for both Apple Computer and Mama Dee’s corner pie shop. With the ups-and-downs of renewals, staffing issues, and waiting on slow-to-act parties as deadlines creep closer — the future isn’t always a concern when it comes to the day-to-day. Meanwhile, every aspect of technology that has been driving our recent consumer economy has come to a point of convergence, and that’s a huge change. Habits are different now, but your insurance website isn’t catering to them.
So what’s changed? The answer is simple: mobile devices and our interactions with them have evolved. Compared to mobile-friendly sites simply being a “convenience” before, the modern mobile vertical has become a separate living and breathing beast. Unfortunately, most business owners are simply seeing it as another “channel” for additional views, instead of as an arguably separate “experience” to capitalize upon.
We are entering another significant pivot in marketing, and many online properties just aren’t ready for it.
The Roadmap to Mobile Changes
Let’s go into context to understand where the market is going: Mobile technology has matured to the point of making almost every new device we own, actually usable. We all have a smartphone in our pockets, our kids have a tablet in their hands, and Grandma is using Skype on her phone to ask Ernesto in Argentina about empanada recipes without — and this is important — having to get the neighbor’s kid to set anything up.
With rising usability, expectations have changed. People don’t just wonder, they assume things are easily findable using their devices. It’s no surprise then that reportedly 70% of mobile searches led to action on a website within an hour of the search, or that rather then walking to a computer, 77% of mobile searches are done in a location where people likely have a PC available to them, such as home or work. When was the last time you got up from your couch, and used your home PC to look something up instead of pulling your iPhone out of your pocket? For most of us, it’s been a while.
In a lot of markets, a larger portion of sales are shifting from aggressive outreach to more inbound passive roles due to these changing habits. People want a solution, and they want it to just work. Unless you have a huge creative marketing budget to demonstrate your product is a true need, consumers simply won’t think about your brand when it comes to purchasing time, they’ll be searching for a generic service or product, clicking a button, and having a number immediately dial on their phone.
Big players in search know this, and over the last couple of years, the data gathered by Bing, Google and Facebook has become sufficient enough for everyone to understand that they have to cater to this changing habit of having online search, just really work to find them the solution they need, and a website or app that has everything they want literally at their fingertips, without the need to pinch, zoom, or scroll to find it.
2015: Transition Time (For Real)
We can quote statistics all day, but it’s what’s being done with it that matters. 2015 will likely be when numbers are turned into action. In my specialty of Search Strategy, you can already see the significant rumblings of transition as both Google and Bing focus on making things just work in mobile search. Already in the last few weeks of 2014, we saw multiple instances of execution in the sphere of improving mobile experience: The big 2 search engines are judging us by incorporating labels like “mobile friendly” in listings, optimizing location data with tech-wizardry, and judging us based on the presentation of our websites.
It may seem daunting that we have a dozen new hoops to jump through, but these guidelines are common sense in light of how the market is changing. We can moan, or we can appreciate that these companies are pushing us to do what’s needed in order to stay relevant, and profitable.
For me, all I see is an opportunity to dominate while the competition relegates themselves to obscurity as they fall more and more behind. I guarantee you that later they’ll have to invest 10-fold both in time and money to even try to play catch-up.
Julia Ask of Forrestor Research put it best with their just-released report titled. “Mobile Is Not A Channel“.
It just isn’t anymore. Mobile is a new, self-sustaining opportunity –something we’ve been lacking in this increasingly saturated market — which is what makes this so exciting. As website owners and builders, we have one job, and it’s simple: Just optimize for client experience, and have a website that just works.
The Future is Written on the Walls, And They’re Becoming Transparent
As location data and habits become more accurate, marketing between the real world and the digital one will start to lose its borders.
This gives plenty of opportunity to try new things: Using texts to deliver online coupons has already proven itself to be more effective than similar campaigns engaged through emails. Utilizing the data from health programs can help pin-point exceptional clientele for Life and Group Health plans, other big aggregate data will be able to grow our understanding of how to target extremely-qualified individuals. These are the mid-term goals everyone should consider as they develop a strategy that works for them.
In the short term, it’s all about making sure that your site is an efficient experience on mobile.
Ask yourself these questions as a preliminary check-list:
- Are your buttons big enough?
- Does your mobile form auto-fill?
- Can users simply click a button to call you or get directions right when they load your site without having to scroll?
- When you search for your insurance product on a phone, what are you likely looking for?
- Does your site just work, and does it do that to the spec of Google, Bing, and most importantly, the future?
- Do all your mobile elements utilize microdata and mobile prompting to tell devices and search engines what different elements on your mobile site are?
For most people, the answer to this list is more than likely a simple, “no”, and that has to change if we want a better chance at succeeding.
Next time, we’ll talk about branding, but until then, tell us your opinions, thoughts and questions about mobile in the comment below, and I’ll do my best to try and answer.