Tips for Getting Serious About Mobile Marketing

    March 25, 2009
    Chris Crum

Cindy KrumThe Mobile Marketing Strategies session at Search Engine Strategies New York focused on mobile SEO, while also touching on driving traffic and conversions with mobile applications, text messaging and mobile email. The session’s goal was to help people understand how mobile marketing fits into the traditional and online marketing mix and determine what mobile marketing strategy is most appropriate for their business.

Stay tuned to WebProNews and the WebProNews Video Blog for continued coverage of the Search Engine Strategies New York event.

Cindy Krum of Rank-Mobile talked about making your existing website work for mobile. Why is mobile important? According to Krum:

– Mass mobile convergence –  Cell phones can do a lot more than just make calls: Games, search, web, etc.

– Most personal marketing mediu – You always have it with you

– More interactive marketing opportunities – more potential for varied responses

How is mobile different? Krum notes:

– Mobile bots – Mobile algorithms are different

– simplified rendering

– smaller screen

– more sophisticated users – changes the demographic

– more specific searches = mobile users aren’t browsing, they are generally searching with a specific intent

Why Now?

Real mobile web browsing – Krum says the iphone has set the bar and now carriers know that it’s not ok to have a crappy mobile browsing experience. 75% of mobile search is done on iphones.  "In the next 2 years we’re going to have a mass entrance of people on mobile search" due to more companies having more browser friendly phones.

Flat rate data pricing – As Krum notes, it’s cheaper. There isn’t the fear of data overages.  Download speeds are going up. Processor speeds are increasing.

"We are on a tipping point for mobile search," says Krum. The mobile web is not a fad. It’s here to stay, she says. There’s a need and an opportunity to master the medium before your competitors.

Road Map

There are hurdles in mobile marketing. There are too many browsers that render things differently. "In terms of browsers, the mobile web is like the regular web 10 years ago," says Krum. "Some sites look fine in some browsers, and not so good in others." This is improving and standardizing, but right now it still has to be taken into account.

Handsets – Different handsets have different screen sizes, processor capacities, etc. So similar to browsers, the devices can affect the appearance of your site.

Download speeds – 3G is not widespread enough, Krum says. Speeds and coverage are spotty. This will improve with time, but for now, streamlining your message for mobile is essential.

Mobile Search – 3 Considerations

On-Deck Search

On deck search is also called carrier search. This is a walled or semi-walled garden from the carrier – kind of like AOL in the old days. It typically consists of monetized content and downloads. Carriers have huge targeting power, Krum says. This type of search is preferred 38% of the time because users feel like it’s more convenient, but a lot of times this is because carriers make off-deck search more difficult to find and use. She says off-deck is gong to diminish over time for the same reasons the old AOL evolved – people want to access and search the whole web.

Off-Deck Search

This is is like regular web search – not controlled by the carriers. Handsets and browsers can impact results. Off-deck search is not location aware (yet), Krum says, but is preferred 68% of the time. Yahoo has a larger percentage of off deck mobile search in the US than in other countries. This is because Yahoo has deals with several carriers to offer their logo for search.

Basic Demographics

Krum says the highest demographic is 20-29 years old. The second highest is 30-39. The highest has an income of 75k+. Males outsearch females by about 10-12%, but more recent studies suggest this gap is shrinking.

What is Being Looked For? In order of search frequency:

– Maps, directories
– Weather
– Local info
– News
– Entertainment
– Sports
– Finance

Urbanspoon Major search applications in your niche (like urbanspoon) can be heavy drivers of traffic – in excess of search engines in some cases, Krum says. Mobile search apps have to be looked at on an individual basis. Find out where they get their data and make sure you’re listed in their datasources.

Mobile SEO

Krum says mobile SEO as an industry is still in its infancy. Many of the best practices for mobile are the same as traditional SEO though:

– There are different crawlers and bots – The result pages are very different

– Slow download speeds and connectivity issues can be an issue if your site is slow to download and your bounce rates are very high as a result.

Creating sites and pages that are device independent is key, she says. Ideally, you want a page that loads and performs equally well in mobile as well as regular web browsing. With mobile SEO, the click thru is not always necessary.  Often the information the user is looking for will show up right in the result (addresses phone numbers, hours of operation etc.). Avoid these:

– embedded images
– flash
– scripts
– frames
– flash
– mouse over events
– objects
– pop up windows


Krum says traditional browsers are more forgiving than mobile browsers. Clean code is far more important in mobile. She says to code in XHTML because it has rigid accessibility standards, which make it better for mobile. External CSS is ideal for mobile. It separates content from design, maximizes code, and decreases download time. She says to develop a handheld stylesheet as well as a screen stylesheet=1 set of content with 2 display variants. This way there are no duplicate content issues (screen.css and handheld css). Use ‘display none’ to selectively hide elements in either rendering.

Reasons not to use .mobi

– .mobi not preferred in mobile search

– not universally accepted

– cumbersome development standards

– no unique assets or features

– limited useful life

– bad for seo — duplicated content

– confusing for customers

Krum says the best option for most webmasters is probably the mobile/traditional hybrid pages (like the multi css example).

Mike McDonald Contributed to this report. If you have any more thoughts on mobile marketing, please share them with WebPronews readers. Check out Krum’s lists of mobile search engine submission pages and Mobile Web Directories.