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In a November 2013 post, we discussed the need for higher ed institutions to start to position their marketing to address the emerging prospective student who predominantly searches and browses the internet on their mobile phone only. Multi-platform (PC, tablet and smart phone) use is prevalent today but as technology evolves and the smartphone takes over more of student’s browsing requirements, a significant change in marketing strategy and tactics will be required. Mobile search and mobile PPC will become more dominant as the primary means with which to reach and communicate with this growing segment of an institution’s target student audience.

To prepare for that reality, we track trends on mobile use, search and PPC closely to try to anticipate how to best advise our clients on the most effective approaches they can use in these emerging market conditions. Here are three trends in mobile use, search and lead conversion that I found rather surprising and thought provoking. They are not higher ed specific, but indicate some interesting developments that I think higher ed marketers should be thinking about.

1. Device preferences and overall use patterns change quite significantly over the course of a day, according to platform.

Device preferences

Source: Smart Insights

How will these patterns affect your PPC marketing strategy as we move into a more mobile based world? Do you use your analytics to confirm traffic visitor platform patterns for your schools across the clock and adjust PPC activity accordingly?

2. 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, and 17% on the go.

Unfortunately I don’t know all the details behind this particular statistic. It is possible that it’s for an older demographic, but even if that is the case, it is still pretty surprising. If your audience is the adult education market it certainly applies. We often get this impression, (or at least I do), that all mobile searches are done on a bus or at the coffee shop. If at home or at work, mobile searchers have the opportunity to springboard off to a second, (non-mobile), screen and drill deeper, or easily come back later to the fuller desktop experience. That opportunity ends with mobile-only prospects.

seventy seven percent mobile

Source: Google

Are you currently tracking second screen visitors in any way? What is the difference in search intent of a prospective student using their mobile phone to search for higher education options from home versus on the go and how can your PPC or mobile content optimization address that?

3. The PPC conversion rate on a smart phones is 1/3 that of on a desktop.

Having overseen quite a few mobile PPC recruitment campaigns, this statistic sounds about right to me. I was initially very excited about lower cost per click on mobile PPC but was pretty quickly disappointed by the goal conversion rates, and even more importantly, conversion rates to registered student, (in distance ed campaigns).

one third conv rateSource:

Mobile PPC is hard to do well and can be risky. Given this difference, how should mobile PPC ads differ from your desktop PPC ads? Do you understand the contextual difference enough to come up with the right mix of information, call to action and landing page to get an effective ROI?

I hope these stats and questions help you begin to see the sweeping change in terms of search and PPC that is on our doorstep. Let us know your thoughts and we can work on it together!