Google and Nielsen: How Mobile is the “Path to Purchase”

Smartphone sales are exploding, mobile web traffic is surging and now is the time to seize the opportunity to reach new customers. Mobile is a cornerstone of the new era marketing strategy. Though in their infancy, mobile sites have already proven themselves invaluable in expanding and retaining a thriving customer base.

Every business will soon need to mobilize, and the sooner you catch this wave, the more you stand to gain. Google partnered with Nielsen, a global market research company, to research and explain why mobile is the path to purchase.

1. Mobile and the Research stage

Understanding where your customer is in the purchasing process is key to deciphering what messages to send and how to send them. Mobile consumers spend 15+ hours per week researching products, deals and services, during which 59% visit a business’ website to validate product research found elsewhere.

A research-stage mobile customer should be able to get the information they want in as few steps as possible.  A mobile site should encourage their potential purchase and keep the hunt alive.  If your site is not mobile friendly, users have to pinch, zoom, scroll, spin and perform all kinds of finger acrobatics just to get text to a legible size. Preventing research stage mobile customers from continuing their search quickly is killing their shopping buzz, and driving down your conversion rates and sales, especially luxury or impulse buys.

2. Mobile and Search

A key aspect of mobile research is the use of search engines as a starting point: 74% of consumers used a mobile search engine in their purchasing process. Of mobile users researching products, 48% started on a search engine, compared to 33% on business mobile sites and 26% on apps.

This demonstrates that a mobile optimized site will generate more sales than an app – although offering both is a great idea.  It also shows how important mobile ads and marketing campaigns are to raising brand awareness at the point of search.  This might include sponsored search results on google to target the 48% using search engines as their point of search, or banner ads, related product lists and special promotions displayed on search pages in your mobile site or app.


3. Mobile and immediacy of purchase

A key takeaway for any business is that customers adapt their purchase decisions based on mobile usage. As much as 83% of mobile consumers want to make a purchase within 24 hours – 55% hope to purchase within the hour. What does that mean? More than half of your potential customers want to be in and out within an hour, while another 30% plan on shopping the next day. With that kind of urgency, do you really want to leave customers struggling with a mobile-unfriendly site and a poor experience?


4.  Mobile and Point of Purchase

Although mobile browsing accounts for the majority of research and validation, most of the purchases resulting from mobile searches are still made in-store. Mobile is driving foot traffic for business that have a strong mobile strategy in place. An astonishing 93% of people who conducted mobile research go on to make a purchase. Of that 93%, 82% purchased directly at a physical store, 45% purchased online via a tablet or desktop computer, and 17% made a purchase using their mobile device.


Even if driving up mobile sales isn’t a high priority, a mobile optimized shopping experience is important for any business.  A mobile friendly site will enhance user experience and engagement, inspire brand confidence and loyalty, and drive foot traffic and additional web traffic to your business.


What does this mean for you?

People everywhere are becoming more reliant on mobile devices and mobile sites to provide them with instant access to product information and deals. Make it easy for customers to navigate your site and quickly decide to purchase with fast loading pages, intuitive navigation, click to action buttons, local product availability, physical location maps, and an easy mobile checkout experience. Drive consumers to purchase with targeted marketing aimed at popular search engines, and calls to action on your site’s search pages to target research-stage users.

Customers are going mobile faster than ever.  Meet them where they live, at the beginning of their search and optimize your web presence for the mobile customer. Don’t let something as easy to correct as a poor mobile experience drive your potential sales to your competitors’ sites. Convert your site to mobile and start converting mobile researchers today.


Note: The Nielsen/Google study was carried out across nine different verticals: Restaurants, Food and Cooking, Finance, Travel, Home and Garden, Apparel and Beauty, Automotive, Electronics, and Health and Nutrition. There were 950 participants, and each user had to be over 18 and have made a purchase within one of the verticals in the previous 30 days.
images: Nielsen/Google