Mobile Takes Center Stage As Key Attribution Vehicle For Small Businesses

Talk about summer being over. September’s conference season has kicked into high gear. At SMX East last week, I discussed mobile search ads on a panel alongside thought leaders from Microsoft, Google and xAD. This week I flew west for a keynote on performance media at BIA/Kelsey’s DMS show in Denver.

While SMX East is targeted to search marketers and DMS is targeted to publishers reaching SMBs, there were common themes as SMBs are embracing mobile at a breakneck pace.

Mobile marketing is no longer a nice to have – it is essential. And attribution is key to furthering the model.

In local search, calls remain a key currency for SMBs and calls are the “it” mobile metric. While pay-per-performance in traditional media helped provide visibility into how ads were performing, pay per performance in mobile is more about monetization. And SMBs are willing to pay because they are getting results.

As consumers themselves, SMBs have a greater understanding of mobile. However, they are still demanding tangible performance results, including calls, clicks, QR codes, maps and directions, coupon redemptions and more. These are all actions that demonstrate the consumer has moved further along in the purchase cycle.

Here are four things you should know about getting the most out of mobile attribution for SMBs:

Keep It Simple For SMBs

SMBs want measureable results and assurance that they can attribute leads to the correct media and campaign.

While publishers and agencies analyze a ton of performance data points internally to help optimize media programs, SMBs really just want bottom line metrics that go beyond clicks alone.

One plus is that SMBs have a greater baseline understanding of mobile than they did with the early days of Internet advertising, so there is a shorter learning curve to decipher the difference between of click-to-call events vs. rich demographic information of mobile callers.

Dashboards for SMBs should include cross channel insights, as to how media programs feed off each other, but these numbers should be easily understood.

Rise Of QR Codes

QR codes are growing at rapid fire, and are a valuable new way to measure consumer actions. Whether on a storefront or in a magazine, the two dimensional and now iconic 1X1 inch squares meld mobile attribution with other media tracking and are the next wave in performance based measurement.

With Google pushing QR codes as well as consumer brands such as eBay, Office Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond and others utilizing the tool, local search advertisers and SMBs also have a greater familiarity with it.

The growth in mobile has enabled a universal interest and understanding of what you can do with QR codes. The formerly futuristic notion of using your phone to scan items for more information is here today.

Mobile Consumer Experience Enhancements

We have seen extended call lengths in mobile that can be attributed to two primary factors.

First, mobile consumers translate into stronger leads as they are typically further along in the purchase cycle and therefore investing more time when reaching out to a business. But there is also a case to be made for improving the mobile consumer experience — there is very limited space for content so it must be fully optimized.

One thing Microsoft is doing with Bing to improve local business listings and the mobile experience is adding Facebook ‘likes’ to their search results.

The Facebook thumbs-up icon is easily understood and takes up little space. Plus, consumers can see what SMBs their friends already like and support, thereby increasing the value of the result because someone you know is endorsing it. (Note to SMBs: Don’t forget about social.)

Non-Traditional Categories Get In On Mobile

Sure, restaurants, stores and a whole host of usual suspect categories will utilize mobile local, but what about the SMB categories for which mobile opportunities may make local search more relevant?

Think gas stations, parking lots and car drop-offs, for example.

These are small businesses that consumers may not research in advance but need on the go. When stuck in traffic or on a road trip, looking up the closest gas station with the highest rated restroom facilities or fresh coffee is highly relevant. I expect we’ll see more mobile performance measurement in categories that otherwise wouldn’t be engaged in local search media channels.

Mobile marketing offers a wealth of opportunities for SMBs, but understanding and using the latest mobile offerings as well as employing sound attribution models is necessary for optimizing existing ad programs and truly monetizing leads.

Stock image from iStockphoto, used under license

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Credit Is Due


About The Author: is president of Telmetrics, a provider of call measurement solutions. Dinan has led Telmetrics' evolution from print-centric tools to multi-media, leads-based measurement solutions and was appointed president in May 2009. He can be reached at

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