Google’s Landmark Study Showcases Mobile’s Vital Role in Consumers’ Path to Purchase
As we approach mid-2015, marketers need to remember two key trends: smartphone penetration is growing at an astonishing rate, and the vast majority of digital consumers are now multi-platform (i.e. they use both desktop and mobile platforms to access the Internet).
According to comScore’s (@comScore) white paper, “2015 U.S. Digital Future in Focus,” more than three-fourths of all digital consumers in the United States, aged 18 and older, are now classified as multi-platform users. Moreover, 21% of Millennials access the Internet exclusively from mobile devices. As for smartphone penetration, although growth has seen modest deceleration, at the end of last year it was still growing at an astonishing rate of 16% in the United States.
According to Google’s landmark report, “Mobile Path to Purchase: Five Key Findings,” which was conducted by Nielsen (@Nielsen), mobile plays a major role in consumers’ path to purchase. The study (which was released in November 2013), encompassed 950 survey respondents who answered questions based on their mobile related research within a purchase category.
The study examined consumer research and purchase behaviors in nine different verticals: Food & Cooking, Restaurants, Finance, Home & Garden, Travel, Apparel & Beauty, Automotive, Electronics, as well as Health & Nutrition. Respondents also met the following criteria: [See Figure 1]
Listed below are the key findings from the study:
Consumers Spend More than 15 Hours per Week Researching on Mobile
According to the study, consumers perform research on mobile websites throughout the purchase process. In fact, consumers spend more than 15 hours per week on mobile research (7.3 hours per week on the mobile web and 8 hours per week on apps). [See Figure 2]
Peak times for mobile web research are the weekend, and peak times for mobile app research are Thursday and Friday.
Mobile Research is More Likely to Take Place on Search Engines
Smartphone users are more likely to research about different products, services, and businesses on search engines than they are to perform research on branded mobile sites or apps. [See Figure 3]
More specifically, 48% of consumers start their research on search engines, 33% start their research on branded websites, and 26% start their research on branded apps.
Location Proximity Matters Considerably to Mobile Consumers
Not surprisingly, 69% of consumers expect businesses to be within 5 miles of their locations, while 10% expect businesses to be within 1 mile or less of their locations. Additionally, a sizable majority of consumers (71%) are using store locators (such as Google Maps) to look for store locations. This propensity is particularly high for restaurants (61%), electronics (38%), as well as apparel & beauty (31%).
More than Half of Mobile Consumers Want to Purchase Within the Hour
More than half (55%) of consumers who use their mobile devices to perform research want to purchase within the hour, and a further 83% want to purchase within the day. As noted by other studies, mobile consumers are using their phones to compare prices, search for product information, check user reviews, ask friends and family for recommendations, and assess other businesses.
Mobile Research Influences Purchase Decisions Across Channels
Perhaps most remarkable of all, 93% of consumers who’ve used mobile to perform research go on to make a purchase. This propensity is most apparent for the following verticals: restaurants, apparel & beauty, and electronics. [See Figure 4]
Furthermore, 82% of consumers purchased in-store, 45% purchased online (using desktop or tablet), and 17% purchased directly from their mobile devices. While the number of consumers who actually complete purchases on their mobile devices is low, this study clearly demonstrates mobile’s important role in consumers’ purchase decisions.
Key Takeaways from the Report: Marketers Need to Focus on Mobile
As consumers spend a great deal of time performing research on their mobile devices, marketers and business owners need to ensure that their sites are mobile responsive. “Start with a mobile-friendly site for the majority of your visitors and extend to apps for loyal, repeat customers,” the report recommends. Mobile-friendliness is also crucial because Google is planning to release an algorithm that expands the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on April 21, 2015.
As search engines are a common starting point for consumers performing research, marketers and business owners need to tailor their search ads with mobile-preferred creatives and CTAs that are specific to mobile, such as “call now” and “visit our mobile site”. Additionally, as location proximity matters to mobile consumers, marketers and business owners need to enable location extensions, which let users know how close they are to the business (including directions).
As purchase immediacy is vital to mobile consumers, marketers and business owners need to make it easier for consumers to complete their purchases by enabling click-to-call, displaying local inventories, and creating mobile checkout experiences.
Lastly, as mobile influences purchases across channels, marketers and business owners should “create seamless experiences across touchpoints and measure conversions across channels that originate from mobile.”
For more updates on Google AdWords and paid online advertising, check out our articles on Paid Traffic. To learn more about the latest developments in mobile marketing, check out our articles on Mobile Marketing.
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