Mobile has been moving fast, really fast. We’d place it somewhere between an Aroldis Chapman fastball and Superman when he flew fast enough to reverse the spin of Earth to turn back time. If digital marketers could set back time, they’d use their knowledge of future trends to maximize their mobile marketing efforts. That’s why it is so important to look ahead at the remainder of 2018 and beyond to see the mobile marketing trends that are coming down the track. Any good marketer knows that the sooner you can begin preparing for the future, the more you’ll be able to capitalize when the time comes.
With consumers using their mobile devices for hours out of each day to complete any number of daily tasks, mobile marketing is a must for any small business. The following mobile marketing trends will help any small business prepare for the future and ultimately succeed in attracting and converting mobile users.
Trend #1: Google’s Shift To Mobile-First
Two years ago, in 2016, Google announced that the team heading its search department would be moving towards a mobile-first approach. This is Google’s response to mobile becoming the preferred channel of search over desktop. With the majority of its users now searching via mobile, Google understands that for the best interest of its user experience, it’s essential that the search engine focuses on mobile over desktop.
What is the mobile-first index? Think about all of your SEO efforts thus far. Any time you’ve measured your site’s search performance, looked at what keywords you rank for, created meta tags/descriptions, it was all based on the desktop version of your website. Mobile-friendly versions of websites have always been secondary. The mobile-first index changes this so that Google and its crawl bots will begin treating your mobile site as the primary version, even when a user is searching via a desktop computer.
The mobile-first index is expected to take full effect by the end of 2018, which means businesses should prepare their mobile site by making sure it has all of the same markup, content, and features that your primary site uses to enhance SEO and functionality.
Trend #2: Mobile Speed And Performance Are Everything
As Google’s new indexing strategy puts mobile pages in the spotlight, the performance and speed of these pages become critical. After all, as the soon-to-be primary version of your website, your mobile page is about to get a lot more traffic. Thus, it needs to be in excellent shape. Mobile users expect fast, frictionless mobile pages. Regarding speed, mobile users expect pages to load in three seconds or less, and 90% of users will abandon the page entirely if it takes more than five seconds. You want to engage users, not turn them away with slow load speeds. Unsure of how fast your mobile pages load? Take a look at Google’s free PageSpeed Insights; this tool will help you determine your mobile load speeds and even suggest steps to make them faster.
One of the hardest obstacles of preparing your mobile site for the new Google index is content. It’s a challenge to include all of the content on your desktop website, without producing added friction to your mobile site. Small businesses have long kept the mobile versions of their websites light, including only the most relevant information that mobile users want. Now that Google will begin treating this as the primary version of your web presence, you need content to preserve your SEO rankings. But, burdening your mobile page with this added content will create unwanted friction, if you aren’t careful.
You’re going to have to strategically add content to your mobile pages, so that it doesn’t conflict with the user’s ability to navigate and find the information they are seeking. This means resizing images, collapsing large blocks of text, adopting a responsive design and more.
Trend #3: Live Streaming Video Content
Video content has always been the most engaging content type out there. Now, it’s becoming even more engaging, thanks to live streaming on social media platforms and other services. Plus, mobile devices make creating and watching video content much more accessible, especially on-the-go. While your content strategies should still incorporate blogs, pictures, and other formats, videos produce 12 times more shares than both photographs and written content put together.
Live streamed videos only raise this engagement to the next level. The key to this increased engagement is that live streaming videos are happening at that very moment, unlike pre-produced videos that can be watched over and over again. Mobile users are prone to viewing live content even longer than static videos because of the inherent fear of missing out. In other words, if they don’t engage now, there may never be an opportunity to see the content again.
Trend #4: More Mobile Payments
Mobile users rely on their devices for some daily tasks, including making payments for in-store purchases. Mobile payments completed through wallet apps have been gaining more and more momentum each year. By the end of 2020, it’s expected that 56% of the consumer population will, to some degree, be using their mobile devices to make in-store purchases, which will allow these mobile wallet apps to become more popular and used more often than credit or debit cards. Thus, it is vital for small businesses to have the necessary POS tools to handle the NFC (near-field communication) technology that these wallet apps utilize to make payments, primarily as we near this 2020 mark.
Mobile payments have a lot of benefits for both the small business and the customer. It often takes less time to pay with a mobile device than swiping a card or even paying with cash. This helps keep lines shorter, so guests have less wait to check out. It also means your business can process even more sales in a shorter amount of time! And, customers will remember how fast and easy it was to pay, which could lead to a better experience and increased loyalty!
Trend #5: Progressive Web Apps
The apps that we use today are known as native apps, named because they require the ‘native’ programming language of the device’s operating system to run. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the next evolution of the mobile app experience. Many of the obstacles that face native apps are fixed by PWAs. For example, one of the hardest challenges of a native app is encouraging users to download the app in the first place. This obstacle becomes even harder to avoid when mobile users have little or no storage left on their device or feel they already have too many apps.
PWAs, on the other hand, are entirely web-based. Users connect through a simple URL link, just like visiting a typical website. Thus, there’s no download required (unless the user wants to add a shortcut to their home screen, but even then the storage needed is minuscule) and connecting to the app experience is very easy that any customer will figure it out.
Progressive web apps are also lighter on data usage, can be run on a limited Internet connection, leverage push notifications to encourage return uses and more. Many of the native app features that small businesses commonly use can all be housed within a web app. And, PWAs can even cost less to develop, because you don’t have to create multiple version to appease each native programming language.
With all of the benefits of these powerful, web-based apps, it’s hard to predict a mobile marketing feature that doesn’t involve small businesses using PWAs.
Trend #6: AI Personal Assistants Answer A Lot Of Questions
The sophistication of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are the stuff that science-fiction dreams and nightmares are made of. While Today’s AI systems are a long way away from usurping their fleshy overlords and enslaving mankind in favor of a machine-driven future, they are getting smart enough to function as virtual personal assistants à la Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Ask Google and others.
You may not use these virtual assistants, but your customers do, and it is changing the way they search. More and more searches are being made through these AI machines, and those queries are almost always in a question format. Instead of searching ‘fastest growing vegetable,’ an Apple user might say, “Siri, what’s the fastest growing vegetable?” Siri then enters that query in its complete question form. In terms of SEO, this means that you should be creating content with more long-tail keywords that directly answer these questions.
Google has also taken notice that many of its users search in a complete question format. You may have noticed the boxed snippets of information that Google displays when you make specific searches. For example, if you search our question about fast-growing vegetables on Google, the first thing you see isn’t your typical blue link, but rather a list of twelve of the fastest growing vegetables brought to you by Growthis.com. Ranking for these featured snippets can help increase your site traffic because people will often look at these boxed answers before browsing the actual website results.
This list incorporates the top mobile marketing trends that small businesses need to begin paying attention to right away. But there are smaller trends, like augmented reality technology, which are still percolating on the back burner. That’s why paying attention to mobile marketing trends is something that you should actively be doing throughout the year. It’s good to check in on the latest trends at least every month or so. This will give you plenty of advanced notice into what’s about to hit the mobile world and how you can prepare your small business for the latest and most significant trends. Thus, be sure to check back into this space and others for more mobile marketing trends for 2018 and beyond.