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Mobile clicks on paid BTS search ads expected to double: report

June 18, 2014

back-to-school-optMobile search will play a key role in this year’s back-to-school season, according to a new report issued yesterday by PM Digital.

Among the keys to success this season will be strategies that optimize mobile for drive-to-store efforts and delayed conversions via PCs or tablets. Other important attributes of a successful mobile-marketing effort this season could include mobile-friendly Web sites, appropriate and timely messaging and proprietary shopping apps.

“We expect mobile clicks on back-to-school paid search ads to be at least double what we saw a year ago,” said Glenn Lalich, vice president of research and analysis at PM Digital. “Already in 2014, mobile clicks have grown 100 percent over prior year [from 10 percent of total paid search clicks in 2013 to 20 percent of total paid search clicks in 2014].”

The 4th Annual Back to School Trends Study looked at results from the 2013 season and made forecasts for the 2014 season that has already begun in some product categories. It was conducted by PM Digital, a digital business of Paradysz Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency.

Mobile activity remains very much at the top of the sales funnel, per Mr. Lalich. Actual sales on mobile devices, he noted, remain very small.

“The majority of conversions are still happening on desktops,” Mr. Lalich said.

Mr. Lalich suggested that retailers make sure store locator and click-to-call information is prominent and easy to use on mobile devices. For online shopping, he suggested that retailers focus on free shipping in ad copy and site links.

College shoppers

Among the findings of the report was that more than 60 percent of back-to-school spending is expected to be for college students. Online shoppers are 37 percent of this market, and they spend more than $1,100 per family — considerably more than average, the report said.

Search, both paid and organic, should remain at the heart of the back-to-school strategy, PM Digital noted in the report.

Momentum in back-to-school search is evident by July, and peaks in mid-August. Online shopping starts and ends earlier than offline for back-to-school.

Search interest in certain categories, such as dorm furnishings, has already begun to rise and will peak in mid-July. That is a month earlier than backpacks, clothes and shoes, PM Digital explained.

Other tips for marketers

Other advice for marketers that PM Digital offered in the report included the suggestion that marketers offer integrated, multichannel options to browse, share and shop across devices and in-store.

PM Digital also suggested that marketers consider the mobile marketing channel first — for in-store as well as site design, and for search, social and email.

Retailers should also prepare for tighter competition from Amazon and product listing ads in paid search.

Messages to shoppers should be sent early — but appropriately — adjusting urgency and offer as the season transpires.

Finally, as the back-to-school season comes to a close and the end-of-year holiday season begins, retailers should capitalize on back-to-school’s ability to put consumers in the mood to buy. That is especially true for higher-ticket product categories that bridge the two seasons, such tablets, laptops and other electronics.

“For back-to-school specifically, marketers need to keep seasonal timing in mind for promoting shipping deadlines, versus pushing in-store sales,” Mr. Lalich of PM Digital added.

Final Take
Mark Hamstra, content director at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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