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September 08, 2016

Like smartphones, mobile user statistics need upgrades. That's because, as phones evolve with new content and technology capabilities, so do the habits of those who use them. Marketers who don't keep up with their targets' changing behaviors put strategies and investments at risk. So, with that in mind, here are some trends you need to know about today.

Phones Are Shopping Buddies
Retailers bemoan the idea of people coming into their stores to see and feel products, only to buy them elsewhere online. Showrooming isn't disappearing, but many smartphone users are doing the opposite: searching online for product-related information and then making purchases in physical establishments.

And, that research? Much of it is being done on phones within the brick-and-mortar of retailers. A 2016 global retail report from PwC found that, in a store, 36 percent of respondents compared prices with competitors', 36 percent researched products, 31 percent accessed a coupon or promotional code, and 25 percent checked reviews about the product or retailer.

These kinds of actions present opportunities for data-driven marketers who can target in-store customers with promotions like product-specific offers based on recent website activity. Marketers can also influence sales by offering coupons to customers who visit an app or text a specific number while in a store. In addition, including reviews on product pages can help convert browsers into buyers.

Shopping on Small Screens Is Up
The PwC study also found that 46 percent of global respondents said they didn't buy products on a smartphone in 2015. That's a lot of non-mobile shoppers, but the number is down significantly from 2012, when 70 percent said they'd never bought products via a smartphone.

Mobile user statistics from comScore show the uptick through a different lens. Researchers say mobile commerce accounted for 16.9 percent of total digital commerce at the end of 2015, compared to 3.6 percent at the end of 2010. Likewise, m-commerce had an annual growth of 56 percent last year. Desktop e-commerce, in comparison, grew by only eight percent.

Creating multiple touch points on apps and mobile websites can keep brands top-of-mind among users with an intent to buy.

Apps Are Winning More Attention
Nielsen reports that smartphone owners used an average of 27.1 different apps per month at the end of last year—a number that hasn't changed much since 2012. But in that time, the average time smartphone users spent per month on apps increased from just over 23 hours to nearly 41 hours.

ComScore, meanwhile, reports 47 percent of digital media time was spent on smartphone apps at the end of 2015.

Because smartphone users are devoting so much time to apps, it's increasingly important for marketers to have a presence on them—through in-app advertising and (assuming there's a good enough value proposition) through branded apps. Apps are also attractive for the rich data they produce, like location information, which marketers can leverage to create engaging, customized campaigns.

Smartphone Users Are Searching for What's Nearby
When folks want to know if there's a hamburger joint, gas station, or car wash close by, they don't have to drive around with fingers crossed that they'll stumble upon one. Many are turning to digital assistance. Mobile makes up 88 percent of all "near me" searches in the US, and those mobile searches are growing at 146 percent year over year, according to Google data.

Optimizing websites to appear in local search results can help a company get found. Marketers can go further by offering a "near me" answer before targets even ask the question. One way is through native advertising on location-based apps. Waze, for instance, enables restaurants, movie theaters, and other brands to show their logos as destinations on a map.

For consumers, using an app that will get them where they need to go can become one habit that won't change over time.

≥≥ Need a Shortcut?
1. In-store shoppers are using their smartphones to help them make purchase decisions.
2. Mobile commerce accounted for 16.9 percent of total digital commerce at the end of 2015, compared to 3.6 percent at the end of 2010.
3. "Near me" searches on mobile are growing at 146 percent year over year.
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