Mobile search is big news everywhere. According to Google, mobile searches quadrupled in the United States last year. “Roughly one in seven searches, even in the smaller categories, are happening on a mobile phone, but how many of you are putting one seventh of your resources into mobile?” asked Google’s Head of Mobile Advertising Jason Spero.
Many experts predict that global mobile searches will overtake static searches by 2015. In India and China, that tipping point has already been reached. The other two countries in the emerging or newly advanced economic powerhouses of the BRIC countries (collectively Brazil, Russia, India, and China) also offer huge potential in marketing terms, not least because of the vast populations of each of these nations.
Mobile Search Marketing Tips
According to a new study called Mobile Marketing Strategies and Emerging Opportunities in the BRIC Countries drawn up by BRICdata, the nature of mobile marketing is expected to change rapidly within the BRIC countries.
While mobile penetration is high in the BRIC markets, the technology and infrastructure available to the average user is not as advanced as that in other markets including the United States, Japan, and much of Europe.
Many users access the Internet on relatively unsophisticated mobile phones, poor connections, and low bandwidths. Up until now, mobile marketing strategies have reflected this by tending towards mass market campaigns targeting customers through bulk messages. This is expected to change, however, as marketers begin to use location-based services driven by the increased penetration of smartphones and improved mobile infrastructure. Essentially, mobile marketing campaigns in the BRIC nations are expected to get far more personal.
Mobile Internet users are increasingly demanding content that is suitable for the device they are using to access it. For smartphone users, this means quick to load sites (two-thirds of smartphone users expect a page to load within 4 seconds) that are optimized for smaller screens and mobile accessibility.
For less sophisticated devices, pages should be kept simple, with high-resolution images, animations, and videos kept to an absolute minimum. If your desktop website does not display or function well on a mobile phone, consider a separate mobile optimized site or a mobile landing page at least.
It’s also worth noting that mobile users also tend to have less patience for scrolling through pages of search results. A higher proportion will head straight for the top result, making mobile SEO even more important. The good news is that mobile advertising has a higher click-through rate and that pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can also be highly effective.
Mobile Search by BRIC Country
While the BRIC economies (sometimes known as the “Big Four) have certain similarities, they are also distinct markets with their own variations in demographics, mobile Internet penetration, and usage.
Brazil is the perfect example of a market with huge potential in terms of mobile search marketing. Penetration of mobile subscriptions is currently 131 percent. Considering the population is around 200 million, this means there are approximately 258 million active mobile phone contracts.
However, Internet access through handheld devices has yet to really explode. Last year, only around 13 percent of Brazilians used mobile phones to access the Internet. This was at least partly due to low smartphone take-up and poor infrastructure, but it’s predicted that by 2015 at least half the population—or 100 million people—will have phones with Internet access.
Russia also has a high proportion of mobile subscribers but is lagging behind other developed nations in mobile Internet usage. Again, this looks set to change as figures released by Russian mobile sites directory and statistics provider mobtop.ru suggest that the Russian mobile Internet audience increased by 2.5 percent during the first two months of 2012 alone.
The number of people accessing the Internet via mobile devices overtook desktop usage for the first time in August 2012, according to Statcounter’s global statistics. Given a continuing upward trend that’s been growing steadily for some time now and an estimated population of more than 1.2 billion, that makes mobile search marketing a must for any series e-commerce enterprise targeting the Indian market.
The vast Chinese market has also recently seen mobile Internet usage overtake desktop, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC). “The emergence of smartphones under 1,000 yuan [$157] sharply lowered the threshold for using the devices and encouraged average mobile phone users to become mobile web surfers,” the report said. Mobile Internet users, now number 388 million, up almost 10 percent since the start of the year.