We see it everywhere–people with their faces glued to their phones. I think most of us (even those guilty of being a little smartphone obsessed) feel that this behavior is bad for society, but the irony may be that as a local advertiser, this behavior can be great for business!

The Rise of Marketing to Mobile Phones

In March of this year, Google’s Matt Cutts predicted that mobile search would overtake desktop search by late this year. The numbers have not yet been published, but many experts believe we have already crossed this threshold. The folks at eMarketer predict that not only will the total number of searches be greater on Mobile devices, but that mobile users will be served and click on more ads than desktop users in 2015.

What does this mean to your business? Well, for one, it means the Smartphone obsessed are using their all-powerful glowing rectangles to find products and services they’re looking for, and you can turn them into your customers!

Using Google AdWords Ads to Target Customers

As a local business, you may or may not have tested search advertising in the past, but if there was ever a time to start, that time is now. There are many reasons to employ Google AdWords ads, each of which could be its own blog post, but here are the top four:

  1. Google gives very granular geographic targeting (the Internet is huge but your ads can be targeted hyper-locally).
  2. Search provides a more level playing field than most mediums for you to compete with the big national and web-only retailers.
  3. Unlike traditional local advertising mediums, search marketing gives you hard data so you know if you are getting a positive return on your investment.
  4. The Smartphone obsessed!

So, the first three reasons hopefully make sense, but what does this mean that the smartphone obsessed work in your favor? Well, in each of those glowing rectangles is a GPS radio. This means that when these users use their phones to search for a good or service, Google knows their location and serves them local results mixed with their web results. Advertising on Google to these local searchers is a great way to remind them that they can purchase locally and have their need immediately gratified.

Google’s Data is starting to show this already. People searching from their phones are more likely to visit a local store within the same day as those searching from desktops or tablets.

How to Join in on Marketing to Cell Phone Users

So what can you do to capitalize on the shift in mobile usage and behavior? If you don’t already have a Google AdWords account you should start one. If you already have one make sure you are maximizing your mobile traffic.

  1. Understand your mobile performance. You can login to your account and go to any active campaign. Once in the campaign click on the settings tab. Once in settings, look for a sub for Devices. In the Device settings you can set a date range in the upper right corner and see how your campaign has been performing across each device type Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile phone. It is important especially that you look at your current ad position on mobile.
  2. Set your Mobile Bid Modifier. In a column between the device name and the clicks, you will see a column for Bid Adjustment. You can decrease this by up to 100% and increase it as much as 300%. For most local businesses I would recommend adjusting your bid so that you are within the top 1-2 positions. On mobile there is very little ad real estate and being in a top position is critical
  3. Add Location Extensions. Adding a location extension is simple. You need to connect your Google places account with your AdWords account. This shows that you are a verified local business. It will also result in you address being shown within your search ad. (If you do not have a Google Place account you need one you can get one here for free).
  4. Ad Call Extensions. Call Extensions allow you to add your phone number to your ad. This is imperative for success on mobile. People are doing a million other things while they are on their phones and if they have found you, make it easy for them to call. On most mobile phones instead of showing your number the user will see a call button that they can easily press to start dialing your business.
  5. Use Call Tracking. Remember when I was listing all the reasons you should use Google Adwords if you are a local business? One of those reasons is that you can track everything and know if you money is being well spent! To do this you may want to use a 3rd party tracking solution. A Call Tracking tool will give you deep data on your calls. You can track what numbers called you at what times, the duration of the call, and even listen to an MP3 recording of the call. If you use a call tracking platform like CallRail you can even get data on what keywords triggered these calls. Using this data you can make important changes to your Google Adwords campaign optimizing for the right times or day, and days of week as well as optimizing which keywords work best at driving you calls.

This is our modern world and love it or hate it, there is a great opportunity emerging for local businesses. Using Google AdWords and a complimentary Call Tracking tool, you can take advantage of this surge of smartphone obsessed consumers, hopefully they can put their phones down long enough to engage and buy when they arrive at your business!

Matt Hessler is Director of Search at Trada and PPCPath. He’s also a men’s fashion designer, rebuilder of vintage motorcycles, and the author of the new ebook The Ultimate Guide to PPC Landing Pages. Matt says PPC gives him a holistic view of the customer lifecycle, reminding him that conversion marketing requires patience and persistence.