October 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Special Report: Meeting the needs of the mobile shopper

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When it comes to measuring the success of a mobile site or app, traditional metrics such as conversion rates provide only a fraction of the information needed. One of the newer techniques on the mobile measurement scene is leveraging native technologies like local push notifications. Once a shopper opens the retailer's app the retailer can send her messages pertinent to her location, which the retailer can determine via the global positioning system technology embedded in the device. A shopper in a retailer's store or nearby can receive discount coupons, notices of sales or other incentives to make a purchase.

"Push notifications are permission-based so they are a great way to market to consumers that have opted in to receive these messages," explains Feinberg. "Retailers are focused on assessing mobile's success and mobile's contribution to the overall business. They want to know what shoppers think of their mobile site, and traditional metrics such as traffic and conversion rates simply fall short in mobile because they don't tell the whole story."

Mobile SEO

Only a retailer's most loyal fans are likely to have its app on their mobile device, but search engine marketing is one of the most effective ways to attract mobile shoppers who are not already loyal customers. One of the pitfalls of mobile paid search that retailers need to be aware of, however, is that the keywords that convert well when consumers are shopping on a computer are not necessarily the ones that will be most relevant to mobile shoppers.

The small keyboards on smartphones means it takes longer to enter a search term on a mobile device than on a PC. That makes it important for retailers placing paid search ads to focus their bidding on mobile-friendly keywords. Mobile shoppers tend to enter one- or two-word search queries instead of lengthy search strings, and those should be the terms retail marketers prioritize.

One way retailers can discover which keywords shoppers search for most on mobile devices is to analyze by keyword how paid search ads perform on various kinds of mobile devices versus their ROI on the PC web.

"Google allows retailers to purchase keywords for mobile only, which helps increase the performance of those words because they are not included in searches conducted from desktops," says Svanascini. "Comparing keyword performance between mobile and desktops can help eliminate a lot of underperforming keywords in both channels."

Lesson No. 1

With mobile commerce evolving at a breakneck pace, retailers looking to take advantage of the mobile opportunity need to keep one thing in mind: Mobile users are task-oriented. And the task at hand may not be to buy immediately. It is more likely the shopper is comparing prices, reading reviews, finding a store, checking in-store inventory or finding out how late a local merchant is open.

In other words, mobile shoppers are typically looking for information that ultimately will help them make purchases in other sales channels. By keeping this in mind, retailers will deliver the type of content and experience mobile users want and that will keep them coming back.

"The number one thing retailers need to accept about the mobile channel is that it influences future consumer behavior in another channel like web or store," says Feinberg. "Once retailers submit to that premise they will be able to deliver mobile experiences that satisfy the unique needs of their mobile shoppers."

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