The iPhone Turns 11 – How it’s Changed the way Advertisers Connect with Consumers

It’s the week of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, and yesterday a tweet reminded me that it’s also the 11-year anniversary of Apple’s unveiling of the first iPhone during CES 2007. That got me thinking about how quickly smartphone usage grew in the last decade. In 2006, the year before the iPhone was introduced, smartphone penetration was at 3 percent. By the end of 2016, more than 81 percent of U.S. adults owned a smartphone.

Prior to the iPhone, there were (technically) already smartphones on the market. Smartphones had actually been around for 15 years. The first personal digital assistant combined with a cell phone was released 1992 by Simon.

By the time the iPhone came out, Blackberries and Palms were already commonplace in large companies, but few members of the public saw a use for them. The release of the iPhone brought about a wave of change and made smartphone ownership common outside of the workplace. The consumer mobile revolution began.

Related – [Guide]: 3 Ways to Boost your Online Advertising with Geo-fencing

The adoption rate of smartphones triggered major changes in the way consumers find and consume information for professional and business use. For advertisers, this has lead to a significant transformation in the methods you use to connect with consumers.

One of the most significant ways smartphones have changed consumer behavior is they allow users to stay connected 24/7. Consumers use their phones for everything – getting directions, conducting searches, checking the weather and communicating with people through a variety of apps.

To celebrate the iPhone’s recent birthday, let’s talk about the relationship between the role smartphones play in consumers’ daily lives and what that means for advertisers like you who are trying to connect with those users.

Optimizing for mobile traffic

For the past few years, more web traffic has come from mobile devices than computers. For brands, it’s no longer an option, websites need to be mobile-friendly or responsive. It’s a primary factor in Google rankings and can greatly influence where your business shows up in search results. Plus, consumers conduct most of their searches from mobile phones or tablets, so it’s important that your site is designed to provide the information they’re looking for with the least amount of frustration possible.

Reaching consumers in-app

A decade ago, you probably weren’t thinking about the best ways to advertise in an app. But, thanks to the iPhone and the evolution of smartphones in general, that’s all changed. In 2018, smartphone users will spend more than three hours a day in-app, according to eMarketer. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram ads are now at the forefront of mobile advertising and there’s an entirely separate market which revolves around those little banners and pop-ups in weather, gaming and shopping apps.

Finding consumers trying to find local businesses

Three-fourths of smartphone users turn to search first to address immediate needs, according to Google. Often, these searchers are looking for important local business information. For local brands, this makes optimized online business listings more important than ever. A decade ago, businesses’ online listings were an afterthought. Now, they mean the difference between being found and a potential customer going to your competitor.

If a customer is two blocks from you and searches for your product on their phone, you don’t want them turning to a competitor because they can’t find your address on your business listings or website.

Connecting with consumers via video

For consumers, smartphones are so intertwined in everyday life that the devices are used for a variety of purposes – both business and leisure, sometimes within the same channel. An example of this is digital video. In 2017, about 160 million people in the United States watched videos on their smartphones, according to eMarketer.

And, consumers aren’t just watching cute animal videos or clips of their favorite shows, they’re also watching informational videos to help them research and make purchases.

Product review videos are an especially great way for advertisers to reach interested audiences. In the past 2 years, videos with the word “review” in the title had more than 50,000 years of watch time on mobile alone.

Related – [Guide]: Digital Video Advertising Campaigns

It’s been 11 years since the release of the iPhone, and the way we search, live and advertise has changed in ways many would never have imagined. Change is inevitable. Sometimes it’s slow, like with the introduction of the television, and sometimes it’s fast, like with smartphones. Consumers crave innovations that will make their lives easier. As advertisers, we should be watching for the same things so we can keep up with where our consumers are. You never know when the next game changer is going to hit the market.


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Marketers: Stop Ignoring Easy Money

Just about half of marketers don’t include phone numbers on landing pages, search ads or in content efforts, according to Invoca. That would fine if it wasn’t for the fact that consumers want more than chatbots and blank forms to connect through, especially on mobile phones. Add to the equation that Invoca also claims calls drive 10x more purchases than clicks, and you’ve got to wonder why marketers are omitting numbers and leaving so much on the table.

Incorporating pay per call phone numbers into performance-based, lead generation programs give advertisers the ability to only pay for qualified leads and gives consumers the experience they’re looking for. While successful programs aren’t as simple as dropping a number or click-to-call feature in an ad, here’s how to develop and execute a profitable program.

Six Ways to Cash in on Inbound Calls

1. Target and distribute right.

How you target and whether distribution networks get your ads in the right place at the right time dictates conversion rates. Targeting options include demographics, search terms, location, day-parting, white listed publishers, etc. and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology segments out callers once they click or dial.

Lead gen networks distribute across search engines, navigation and map apps, digital assistants, display ads and local directories. For example, Mindstream Media Group’s lead gen network includes publishers like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Waze, Mapquest, Telenav and Amazon Echo, and we offer brand strategy on applicable delivery across the network.

2. Know your sources.

Sixty percent of marketers don’t know which of their marketing campaigns made the phone ring. This is easily solved with pay per call programs using unique numbers, dynamic insertion and call extensions which track the caller to a specific campaign on practically any medium.

3. Answer the damn phone.

Not picking up and/or providing poor experiences to callers means lost money spent on ads, plus lost short- and long-term business. Marchex marketing analysts who study online-to-offline attribution, examined hundreds of thousands of calls from mobile devices to both automotive service shops and dealerships. Ten to 20 percent of automotive search spend was wasted due to unanswered phone calls, according to their research. They’re not the only vertical with painful abandonment numbers. Marchex noted that 57 percent of real estate calls go unanswered.

Side note: The IRS is doing a better job answering calls than a lot of business categories. This is stunning given that one-third of their inbound calls go unanswered, according to a 2016 Washington Post article. Be better than the IRS.

4. Train your team.

First step is to see No. 3 above. While thorough product, sales and customer service training for those answering calls may seem to be a given, it isn’t. We’ve had advertisers, large and small, concerned that lead gen pay per call programs don’t work when calls aren’t converting to sales. Generally, quick investigation determines the problem wasn’t with the program, but with the handling of the calls, whether at a location or a call center.

On the other side of the coin, we’ve seen brands keenly focused on training watch their conversions skyrocket. For example, Mindstream Media Group works with a national moving company that’s seeing sales revenue increase by 900 percent over a matter of months. Thousands of qualified calls are pouring into their locations monthly from their pay per call campaign and their meticulously trained staff delivers conversions. Extensive training pays off.

5. Listen to performance, don’t just track it.

Pro Tip: Pay per call ad campaigns amass a goldmine of intel ranging from call time, duration and geography to ad source and cost per lead on top of a myriad of other data points. Watch it, understand it and optimize it (keep reading). But, don’t forget to listen. Solid call technology provides options for voice analysis to “listen” to calls on the advertiser’s behalf and determine call type, caller needs and so on by identifying what they’re saying and reporting it out. However, actually listening to call recordings—spot checking a sampling or zoning in on a particularly successful or unsuccessful campaign or store location—allows you to hear tone of voice and intent.

6. Optimize to hit KPIs.

Take your customers’ common and unique buying journeys into consideration during the initial lead gen strategy development and revisit for accuracy and necessary refinement after your program is underway. By integrating call data with landing page traffic, searched keywords and IVR reporting, you’ll hone in on improvements. Knowing what ads, channels and lead gen distribution networks work best allows you to shift allocations. Tracking callers all the way through to conversion or disengagement along their journey pays off significantly during optimization efforts.

A final note: every call is a sales call. Service calls count more than you might think, because that interaction with your brand may well determine if they’ll be a new or repeat customer when the time is right. Easy money.