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A new study published by ad tech company Fluent shows the holiday season is looking to be more mobile than ever.

According to the report, nearly 40% of all US consumers are already planning to make at least one purchase this holiday season from a mobile device. Unsurprisingly, younger consumers appear to be more likely to make purchases from mobile devices compared to older individuals.

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For the survey, the company asked almost 2,000 US consumers questions about their holiday shopping plans in late September. The responses showed 39% plan to make at least one purchase on a mobile device, with younger shoppers being increasingly likely to go mobile.

Just less than half of consumers between the ages of 18-44 say they plan to shop on mobile devices, compared to 33% of those 45-years-old or older.

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The survey also provides insight into how consumers will be researching their purchases ahead of time, both online and offline. In total, approximately 54% will do the majority of their research online, while 47% will continue to do their research in traditional physical stores.

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While online research is becoming a big part of the holiday season, brick-and-mortar stores will still be where shoppers are spending the majority of their money. The survey results show 78% of consumers will do at least half their shopping in stores, while 22 percent said they will do at least half their shopping online.

The survey shows a small discrepancy between genders, as well. Fluent says men are slightly more likely to research products online compared to women.

A new study by Blue Nile Research investigated search behavior and found some interesting trends that give insight into exactly how people are searching online and what they are looking for. Most notable among the findings are the discoveries that searches use question formats in 27% of queries, and are perfectly divided on searching in short form (under 4 words) or long form (4 or more words).

According to the findings of the study, 27% of searches phrased their search in the form of a question, using words such as ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘what’, and ‘which’ rather than a ‘statement query’.

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When broken down, most question queries included the word ‘how’ (38%), followed by ‘why’ (24%), ‘where’ (15%), ‘which’ (12%), and ‘what’ (11%).

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The study also finds that searchers are perfectly split when it comes to search length. The report shows that 50% of searchers break queries into so-called ‘fragment queries’ which contain 2 to 3 words, while the other half use ‘full queries’ which contain 4 words or more.

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You can read the full report from Blue Nile Research here.

Best-Android-phones-for-Christmas-2013Now that the holiday season is over, several companies including Target and Amazon are releasing statistics related to 2014’s holiday shopping. While there are several interesting facts to be found in the reports, Target’s release may have the most striking bit of information.

Target claims the majority of traffic to its Target.com website came from mobile devices throughout the holiday season, making it clear that mobile is quickly becoming the primary option for online shopping.

The company says, “Mobile traffic made up 60 percent of Target.com traffic November through December.” The press release also highlighted other mobile milestones for the company:

  • Black Friday weekend purchases made via mobile phones were 2 times higher than 2013
  • Cartwheel, Target’s digital coupon app, added 2 million new users over the holiday period and surpassed $1 billion in promotional sales since it launched
  • Target.com store-pickup orders hit a new record high on Thanksgiving Day
  • Store maps in Target’s new iPhone app were accessed more than 400 thousand times

Long-time mobile leader Amazon reported similar findings to Target, saying, “Nearly 60 percent of Amazon.com customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday. Mobile shopping accelerated as customers got later into the shopping season.”

Amazon also mentioned that Cyber Monday was the biggest mobile shopping day of the season, but Black Friday “had the most rapid growth in mobile shopping.” The company also reported that total sales of the Amazon smartphone app had doubled last year, which coincides with Amazon mobile entering comScore’s Top 15 US Smartphone apps list.

The latest “audience insights” report for Q2 of this year from NinthDecimal was released this week and the findings about shopping on mobile devices could have a big influence on how marketers think about on-the-go research and conversions.

The report shows that smartphones are quickly becoming the primary way users research retail purchases, which should be of little surprise. However, the findings also show that research on tablets has been significantly declining which may suggest a troubling future for the devices.

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NinthDecimal says they believe the decline is due to increasing consumer comfort with shopping on smartphones, especially as screen sizes are increasing and NFC services like the newly launched Apple Pay make it easier than ever to shop on a smartphone.

Also unsurprising is the finding that consumers tend to conduct shopping-related research before they leave the home to shop, although in-store usage is also growing. The report also shows that the length of time that consumers spent researching a purchase before buying was directly tied to cost. Products under $50 saw an average of 10 days of research or less. Meanwhile products above $1,000 days got an extensive 45 days of research lead time on average.

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Of particular note to online marketers and businesses may be the data claiming that within the last month approximately 45 percent of consumers reported making a retail purchase after seeing a mobile ad. However nearly three-fourths of respondents said they were more likely to engage with retail-related advertising at home, before they began shopping.

Mobile Ad Response

According to the report, the types of ad content most likely to sway mobile users were (in order): product discounts/sales, reviews, product information, giveaways and store-location information

The report from the 3rd Annual U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study conducted by xAd and Telmetrics shows that as consumers mobile shoppers are increasingly receptive to relevant mobile ads, reflecting the increasing trust in mobile browsing.

The report, published earlier this week, shows that nearly 50 percent of mobile shoppers reported they felt mobile ads are informative or helpful, up 113 percent from 32 percent last year.

Even more, 40 percent of those surveyed said they have clicked on ads and nearly half of those have taken secondary actions such as viewing the referring website and searching for additional product information.

Clearly, mobile advertising is a blossoming target as the internet becomes increasingly mobile. In a market where mobile use has begun outpacing desktop access, it makes sense that users would become equally interested in relevant ads for their mobile devices.

You can get more information in the infographic shared below, or you can view the report in full here.

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With each new study focusing on consumer behavior, smartphones are proven to be even more integral to our purchasing habits than many of us may realize. I think everyone is aware of the increased importance of smartphones and mobile browsing in the market, but it may still be surprising that the majority of consumers (up to 60 percent) exclusively rely on mobile for purchasing decisions within the categories of telecom, restaurants, auto, and entertainment.

Numerous analysts suggest the rise shown in the third-annual Mobile Path-to-Purchase report from xAd and Telemetrics could be partially caused by an increase in consumer satisfaction in mobile devices and tablets, both rising 2 percent from 2013. Smartphone satisfaction grew to 61 percent, with tablets increasing to 68 percent.

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According to the study, the most common reasons for dissatisfaction included not enough information, slow connection, or a small screen. While website owners can’t control the size of screen their users have, they can improve the amount of information on their site, increase load speeds, and optimize their design for smaller mobile screens.

More than 40 percent of consumers cited mobile as the most important media source for information as well. Print industry continues its march towards complete irrelevance as it was called the most important source by only 5 percent of those surveyed.

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The increasing relevance of smartphones in shopping habits continues, with smartphones showing a 26 percent increase from 2013, with 29 percent citing it as the most important shopping tool in 2014. A quarter of users also said they utilized mobile devices on the entire path to purchase, from research, to comparison, to conversion.

“Capturing consumer engagement points throughout the mobile path to purchase is essential to optimizing mobile ad programs to reach consumers when they are most open to options for fulfilling their purchase needs,” said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics.

SEO and online marketing have changed drastically over just the past couple years, especially with the rise of social media and huge changes to how search engines are able to analyze and rate websites for users. However, some things have stayed the same through it all, such as the importance of email marketing.

It could be easy to think that social media would usurp the place of email marketing in building a relationship between consumers and your brand by gradually letting potential customers see who you are and what you represent. However, you would be wrong as emails still hold their place by offering a direct line to interested users that even social media can’t match.

The majority of businesses realize this, judging by the continued prevalence of email signups and calls-to-action deliberately designed to get visitors onto an email list. What some of those companies may not understand is that they may be missing out on some of the potential of their email list by marketing to the wrong device.

A new report from Movable Ink’s Q1 2014 US Consumer Device Preference Report shows that email opens are continuing to migrate away from desktop to tablets and smartphones. At this point, desktop opens are actually the minority compared to mobile devices.

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Greg Sterling has an analysis of the data from the report, but to me the findings show that a large amount of email marketing is missing the mark by targeting users sitting at a desktop computer browsing through a day’s worth of email. This may have been the norm a few years ago, but today the majority of emails are opened while out and about and emails should be designed to fit this purpose and be able to catch users’ attention from the smaller screen.

You can start making your email marketing strategy more mobile friendly by making your emails explicitly mobile friendly as well as the associated landing pages these emails direct to. In a day-and-age when the majority of people are checking their emails and doing browsing from smartphones there is no excuse to be sending users emails they can’t easily view or sending users to landing pages that require non-iPhone friendly Flash plug-ins.

Local businesses are often the most hesitant about investing time and money into getting their business online, but recent studies are overwhelmingly showing that businesses without an online presence are missing out on huge opportunities, especially with the growing-number of smartphone-savvy consumers.

First, comScore found that 78 percent of local-mobile searches resulted in an online purchase. Now, new consumer data from Ipsos MediaCT, a research firm sponsored by Google, confirms many of comScore’s data and also finds that local search may be important in more phases of the buying cycle than previously thought.

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Ipsos collected the data through an online survey of 4,500 consumers from nine vertical segments including Auto, CPG, Finance, Local Services, Media & Entertainment, Restaurant, Retail, and Tech and Travel. The firm also reviewed and incorporated data from a smartphone shopper diary study involving 653 respondents.

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Perhaps the most eye-raising finding of the survey is the news that 88 percent of smartphone users and 84 percent of tablet users conduct local searches, specifically focusing on hours, directions, address, and product availability queries.

The survey also refutes the common belief that local search tends to only occur in the last phase of the buying cycle. Instead, like comScore, Ipsos found that local search was used at all phases of the buying cycle, even at home.

Local businesses will also be particularly interested in finding that the majority (56 percent) of “on the go” searches carried local intent. However, this does not mean that more than half of all mobile searches are local.

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You can work on building your brand’s image and marketing as much as you want, but at the end of the day bad reviews can outweigh all that hard work. We’d all like to believe that good reviews can balance out the negative, however that notion got pretty well shattered when Mike Blumenthal recently published a set of surveys strongly showing that consumers perceive that a “negative review corpus hurts a business more than positive reviews help them.

For businesses struggling with the issue of negative reviews, this news isn’t a relief. However, Blumenthal reviewed his results and noticed something interesting. Younger consumers seem to be more tolerant of bad reviews than their older counterparts.

Of course, younger consumers aren’t going to forgive a place with an outstanding number of one star reviews. But, it appears that consumers between the ages of 18-24, specifically those who are more savvy to online reviews, may be able to parse negative reviews more thoroughly rather than rejecting businesses out of hand. Rather than accepting the review at face value, they actively search for aspects that could be a deal breaker.

Obviously, the best way to handle a bad review portfolio is to directly address any valid concerns of reviewers, and encourage those who have positive experiences to review your site so that you can potentially water down the negative. But, Blumenthal’s survey suggests that reviews are always the end-all-be-all that we think they are.

By now you may have heard the claims that internet traffic from smartphones and tablets will outpace traffic coming from desktop computers any day now, but yet a large amount of the internet isn’t optimized for mobile devices in any viable way. If you’ve ever wondered why, it is because many businesses don’t see the value of investing in mobile traffic, due to lack of information and misunderstandings of their audience and the market.

The question most businesses need answered isn’t “how much traffic is coming from mobile devices?” If we spent all the time that has been used answering that question every few months on instead answering “how valuable is all that mobile traffic” most businesses of every size would already have perfectly usable mobile websites.

It is true that the mobile market is constantly growng, but the most interesting data is how mobile internet users are doing online. Compared to desktop traffic, mobile users are exponentially more likely to take action. People tend to do in-depth research and general browsing on desktop systems, so each visitor you receive is as likely to politely look around and leave as they are to convert. In fact, they are statistically much more likely to not take action.

However, each study on the consumption behavior of smartphone users only shows that people are using their phones more and more to purchase or take action every day. The latest study from comScore.com and Search Engine Watch says 80% of local searches coming from mobile phones lead to conversions.

There are a few industries that benefit the most from these conversions, as mobile searches for localized results tend to favor restaurant, auto service, and arts queries. You can read the whole breakdown of the report at Search Engine Watch, but if you are a local business owner who has been telling yourself that mobile websites only benefit major businesses you are likely selling yourself short.

The team from Neustar also created an infographic highlighting the results of the study, which can be seen below:

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