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In the second series of SEM Insider Insight presented by Bing Ads, Frances Donegan-Ryan hosted the session with Aaron Levy where they discussed about paid search strategy that SEM professional can put to practice for mobile-first world. To listen to the podcast click here.


Here is the transcript of the podcast:

Frances: Welcome to the Insider Insights Podcast, a series brought to you by Bing Ads. We’ll talk with insiders, who’ll share their tips, tricks and confessions to help you become a digital marketing pro. I’m your host, Frances Donegan-Ryan. Welcome everybody, to Bing’s SEM Insider Insights Podcast Series. Today, we’re going to be talking all about Paid Search strategies for a Mobile-first future. And we’ve a very special guest, and good friend of mine joining, Aaron Levy, and he’s from Elite SEM, but Aaron, I’m going to let you introduce yourself.

Aaron: That’s pretty much it. So, I’m a… Our titles at Elite SEM are a little whacky. We try to be unique. So I’m a Manager of Client Strategy here, so I oversee a team of about a dozen across North America. Actually I’m in 3 countries now, but I also service kind of strategically for some of our larger clients. So that means I’ve a lot of visibility into some, you know, large scale market places and seeing a lot of things about how media interacts as our lovely world is changing and growing.

Frances: Yeah. And you’re based out in Philly.

Aaron: I’m based in frigid Philadelphia today.

Frances: [Laughter] Well, today Aaron and I are going to talk about Mobile-first PPC campaigns, when to consider them, how to help a client understand when they should use them, when they don’t need to worry about them, and then just the ton of tips and best practices on targeting your customers or your leads through mobile devices. So Aaron, let me start first by asking you some questions. You know, I think, in 2015, maybe even earlier, was when everyone started saying, “This is the year of mobile, this is the year of mobile,” and I think if you’ve not started, you’ve missed, like, several years already of the “Year of Mobile.” So, maybe, give me a brief, sort of history on when you felt it became critically important, and then, you know, how the users have really differed from each other – Desktop vs Mobile.

Aaron: I mean, I think we’ve been in the decade of Mobiles since pretty much as long as I’ve been in the field. I think we took a brief, brief break when it was the Year of the Tablet… That went away.

Frances: [Laughter]

Aaron: So… I mean, I think it kind of hit critical mass probably about 2 to 3 years ago. Obviously when, you know, the iPhone first came out, it was kind of a luxury item, it was amazing. I was convinced that it was going to hang up on everybody because touch screen didn’t make sense to me. But I’d say really, probably about 2 to 3 years ago when what are considered budget phones, so the lower-end iPhone android phones, when those started to become really critical mass, and data became less of an expensive commodity, that’s when it really went nuts.

So I think it was… I believe 2014 was the first time that we really saw Black Friday volume was primarily mobile. I think that was the first time it crossed, based on our numbers, last year overall, and it was about 60% total mobile throughout the year. And on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which are usually, kind of, our parameters, we saw around 70 to 75% of buying was on mobile. So that’s a big switch.

Frances: Yeah. No, we’ve seen that, you know, in our data as well and I would say, you know, although we’ve always been, at Bing, you know, focused on building mobile products within, you know, within the Bing Ads Interface in the tool, I would say Aaron, the number 1 priority over the last year, year and a half has been building mobile partnership so that we can continue to help customers just reach more people and increase that volume as quickly as we can.

Aaron: I think it’s interesting that you said partnerships instead of products. I think if there’s one thing that has been the biggest challenge for us as marketers in mobile is to realize that we can’t just shoehorn a desktop experience in a mobile, we can’t make people do something they don’t want to do. So the fact that Bing is looking at partnerships and working with a bunch of different app providers and, you know, looking at different ways to provide volume and tools for people to do what they want to do is much more important than, you know, just trying to shoe-horn your desktop experience or your search campaigns to mobile when, you know, people might be in a different mindset when they’re on that phone.

Frances: Yeah, exactly. And I think we’re also starting to see or glean better understanding of that mindset with the advent of voice search as well.

Aaron: I mean, the biggest thing for mobile is that we want to find people who are in that kind of desperation mode rather than the time-killing mode and what we’ve seen is that voice search or natural language search indicates someone that, like, that really needs something to be done right away, and that’s the one where we want to be first, like, frontrunners on it.

Frances: Yeah. And so, you know, just a kind of follow up question on that, based the fact that, you know, we know that mobile is now more prevalent and then we’re starting to layer voice search on top of that even more, you know – why do you think the current tools may be that we have within Paid Search, or the current tactics…? Like you mentioned before, not just trying to jam PC, traditional Paid Search tactics onto a mobile device, you know… Those are not going to work with keeping us up to date. Are there sort of…? What are your thoughts on that? And what do you hope to see, or what are you starting to see to help with that?

Aaron: Well, there’s kind of 2 to 3 challenges embedded within that. First of all, when we’re talking about mobile consumers, it’s not just one person. You’re not the same person as you’re on your phone. Depending on the time of day, you’re 4 or 5 different people. So what we need to do and what our current tools and tactics don’t quite do is that we’re not necessarily taking a user-first approach, we’re taking a device-first approach, and we’re trying to get them to do what we want to, rather than enabling them or allowing them to do what they want to.

So, until we can find a way to really map out, you know, user mindset, user cases, and figure out how to enable the users to accomplish what they want rather than trying to get them to whip out their credit card, I think that’ll be a real key to success. And I think that’ll kind of necessitate a return to what we, you know, in the good old days, used to call ‘micro-conversions’, getting people to conduct smaller and micro actions rather than trying to get the horseshoe bang in one shot.

Frances: Yeah. And I think that’s not just a change in tactic in terms of Paid Search tactic. That’s got to be a fundamental change in the way that, you know, businesses have to think about marketing in this newer world. We were talking a lot the last few weeks at events that I have been at about [Polite 06:56] Marketing, and keeping in mind, you know, remembering that we ourselves are consumers, and what are we willing to do, particularly because we are in this industry, and if we’re not even optimizing for ourselves in our own behaviours, then, we’re also then clearly not doing it for the general public.

Aaron: Well, it’s important to remember too that we’re not the general public, we’re that weird. We’re really good at phones, we’re more comfortable with doing things, and we know how to manipulate search engines to get what we want. We need to think in the mindset of, you know, [John Q 07:35] customer who has 1gig of data a month and needs to budget it to make sure that he gets the right thing. We need to think in the mindset of someone who, you know, may be our parents. My mom just got smartphone, finally, 10 years late! And think about how she uses it, and what she would need it for. And it’s not going to be the same way that I would use it, but she’s going to receive the same marketing messages that I do if I were not careful.

So we think about mobile… I mean, I know from my personal experience… In fact, most of my friends in those dang millenials… People don’t necessarily want to use a phone as a phone any more, they’re really, really intrigued by messaging apps. Not just messaging apps, but messaging extensions in advertising. So, figuring out how we can use the rise of what we may call ‘Chat Box’ or ‘Message Extensions’ to give people another avenue to communicate, knowing full well that it might mean that we’ll have to re-engineer how we work things on the back end.

So we’re seeing huge success in using chat behavior on phones or driving people to send us a text message rather than call, because it takes a couple of layers out of things, and it makes the conversion much easier for consumers. So, you know, it obviously means that we have to re-engineer the call centre, because we had people waiting on the phone for the phone to ring, but instead, if they’re getting a text message, that means all of our tracking systems are now broken, all our response systems are now broken. But we also know that it gets people on the phone a lot faster, and it leads them to convert a lot faster. So there’s a certain level of trade-off that, you know, do you nuke the old system or do you just, sort of, start putting additions on the house until it looks right?

Frances: Okay, so back to, looping back around to mobile, are there…? You know, when you’re actually creating the mobile ads or the mobile campaigns, what do you feel are some of the tools and tactics that not only are going to be immediately successful but that are going to build this sustainable long-term success?

Aaron: What I think is the most important and – this is where it gets a little bit complicated – is that you need to isolate your tests by device. So if you think about looking at Time of Day or Day Parting, the curve is going to look drastically different for a phone, it’s going to look drastically different for a desktop. We see that tablets are kind of somewhere in the middle, they tend to fill up the boredom hours but not the commuter hours that a phone would. But the things that you’ll wind up seeing work really well on mobile phones are things that’ll probably be different from desktop.

I mean, the old school test that we would always run, you see… We would have our Display URL say, you know, to give people the semblance that it will be a mobile site.

That’s kind of child’s play now. Instead, you know, really varying your ‘Calls to Action’, so instead of going ‘Shop Now’, you could change to ;Call Now;, or ‘Buy Now’, or whatever it may be, something to indicate that you’re tailoring to the mindset of the user and not just what’s in their hand.

Frances: Right, and that you’re creating more of the urgency rather than, you know, “Come, enjoy some time with us.” It’s “Get what you want done right now.”

Aaron: It’s not even necessarily the urgency but more that it’s not pressure, and we’re giving people the freedom to act how they want to act, knowing full well that it isn’t just a [inaudible 10:51] scenario where we squeeze the whole website into something responsive that now magically fits on a 4-inch screen. More that we have an experience that’s tailored to what they want, which is easier said than done, of course, but giving that message and that feel to customers is what’s really going to help everyone grow.

So, what this whole swap to mobile is doing, which is kind of a blessing in disguise, is it’s forcing us to take a step back, as you’re saying, and look more at that, not only creative side, but the human side and figure out, you know, how we can reach people in a way that’s important to them instead of important to us.

Frances: Yeah. Are there any…? Are there pitfalls, or things you feel have kind of been tried and tested and don’t need more attention, and you should spend your time doing other things?

Aaron: It’s an interesting question. I mean, I think… I don’t like to be broken record, but aside from trying to smush-in the whole desktop site into a mobile experience, being cognizant of users swapping devices, and allowing that and being okay with it, instead of, you know, having an ‘Exit’ intent pop-up on your mobile landing page or someone… or gated content which says, “You can’t read this until you click on it,” Maybe not the best user experience, whereas, you know, if we know that our mobile conversion rate is, like, a third of what our desktop is – that’s pretty much the same for all of our clients – so that doesn’t say to us that we should do mobile CRO, or may be it does.

But by mobile CRO, it doesn’t mean raising that conversion rate for your desktop experience, it means changing what we’re asking of people. I mean, it’s going in for something a little bit smaller and making it easy so that they can get it done, and go back to playing Candy Crush or whatever they feel like.

Frances: Yeah, I was just going to say I am that user that switches… Well, also, I have a Surface Computer which is starting to, like, raise the divide between desktop, tablet and laptop because I use that as all 3, but I totally switch between my devices when I run out lives on Candy Crush on one device, I’m going to pop to the other device, and in the mean time, I’m playing Candy Crush and more than likely binging on Netflix or Hulu, I’m also going to be shopping, I’m also going to be researching, I’m also going to be reading articles, and so, I think it’s not, it’s almost not even thinking TV and phone, it’s, you know… I’ll talk to Alexa, I may be watching the TV, I might be on my Surface, reading, because it’s bigger, and then I might be texting on my phone… I mean…

Aaron: Well, so, what we’re also seeing is that doing things like native or small content pieces, because people are looking for condensed version of articles and they’ll skim through until something else catches their eye, which is where we’ve seen a lot of success with the rise of native for being where, you know, we can insert something where, historically, you know, search has always been people looking for solution to a problem… We can kind of insert ourselves into somewhere where that problem may not exist yet and get ahead of the game.

Frances: Any other top tips you want to share for people who are either starting their foray into mobile, or for those of us that have been doing it for a while but need that next boost?

Aaron: So, we joked at the outset that it’s been the Year of Mobile for 10 years. I think what we’re seeing is that people have looked at mobile as a stagnant technology aside from the screens getting bigger and the devices getting better, you know, “We’ve got apps. Yey!” But realistically, mobile is changing a lot more than that. So, when you’re building your mobile strategy, write it in pencil, don’t chisel it out of stone, because what’s going to be big next year is different from what’s going to be big this year. So we actually…

I know even though we didn’t touch on but, you know, we could talk about this for another 3 hours, it’s looking at re-targeting in Search or otherwise for App re-engagement to that point exactly, the same way that you might look at a Search campaign to have someone, you know, hit someone in 6 months when they’re going to be ready to replace their running shoes.

You have to look at that behaviour where…the App Download is, like, step 1. That’s the form filling, they haven’t given you any money yet. Looking at marketing tactics for App Re-engagement, if they’re searching for something and they already have the app downloaded, create condition and use it all the time and get the most valuable piece of real estate you can on a phone, which is the old home screen. You can get there, you win. It might not show on your Analytics, it might not make your Paid Search Program look good, but that’s not our job. Our job is to help people make money.

Frances: Yeah. And Apple’s already going to help you do that as well. Awesome. Well, I think we’ve touched on a lot of different aspects in mobile. I’m going to wrap up with what I thought were, like, the top 3 things, and then you tell me if I missed one. I think the number one thing we are saying, like you said, do not write the strategy in pencil or “BAH, DO write it in pencil, don’t write it in Sharpie or chisel it in stone,” because not just the technology of the phone is changing, but it’s the usage that’s changing even faster. So that was my first one.

My second one was, don’t just try and squash your typical PPC desktop-friendly either website design, landing page design or budget strategy into a mobile strategy. And I think something that we didn’t talk about a lot but I hope that is helpful is, figuring out how to make the tools work for you for mobile. You know you can turn on those mobile-preferred ads, you can use bid-modifiers, you can use things like keywords of that who, what, where, that we know tend to be more voice search which in turn is going to lead you more to mobile and creating different targeting for that. So, don’t feel like just because we can’t do those mobile-only campaigns on Google and Bing anymore that you can’t make it extremely mobile friendly.

Aaron: To wrap it all up here, I would say that.. I think I’m quoting, may be, Garfield, I don’t know, “Pobody’s nerfect.” So, don’t let…don’t let perfect get in the way of done, so when it comes to mobile campaigns , yes, it’s certainly growing fast; yes, a lot of users are on it, but it’s moving so fast that if you try to make a perfect strategy, you’ll always be chasing something that doesn’t exist. A lot of time, it’s just run with the stuff with a…seeing what sticks, so don’t be shy about testing or tweaking without, you know, planning out a 3-month, say, re-design just to see what happens.

Frances: Well Aaron, thanks so much for chatting with us. You gave us a lot of your precious, precious time and hopefully, we’ll get you back on our Industry Insights Podcast again soon.

Aaron: Thank you for having me.

Frances: And that’s a wrap on another episode of the Insider Insights Podcast. You can catch up on all the episodes on SoundCloud or your favourite podcast app. You can share your feedback with us on any social channel @bingads. And until next time, thanks for listening.


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