It’s no secret that mobile search volume is on the rise. In fact, marketing search powerhouse, Covario recently reported a 74% year-over-year increase in the volume of searches via mobile phones around the world. Additionally, the report also states that marketers’ spend on mobile advertising nearly doubled since Q2 2013.

With so many consumers relying on mobile to browse the web, watch videos, and to access social media, marketers are trying to understand how businesses can capitalize from this mobile zeitgeist and drive revenue. For educational marketers, mobile search offers a critical venture for institutions to recruit prospective students, but as with any opportunity there are risks.  Institutions must take caution when optimizing for mobile to ensure their efforts result in leads and avoid wasted budget.

Digital marketers optimizing their marketing campaigns for mobile should consider the following tips:

1. Look before you leap

Before increasing mobile investment and efforts, educational marketers need to first evaluate the value of mobile search in driving leads. The beauty of mobile is its ability to provide fast, accessible information on the go. However if you are in the business of lead generation, your goal is to do more than just convey information about your school and the program opportunities; you need to connect with prospective students.

While mobile search may be used as part of the prospective student’s decision process, it’s most likely used in the early research phase and is often not the last source someone views before submitting their information to convert. In advance of developing a mobile-specific budget, marketers should first understand the role mobile plays in driving prospective students to their online assets (website, landing pages, lead forms) by running a Path to Conversion report in Google Analytics.  If mobile is bringing in leads at an efficient cost-per-lead– invest more. If it’s only part of the process, marketers need to ensure their attribution model can pinpoint and credit all sources that led to a conversion. By doing so, marketers can make data-driven decisions on how much to invest.

2. Ensure a Frustration-Free User Experience

Mobile ads should send users to mobile optimized landing pages. It seems like a simple concept, but a staggering number of businesses continue to use non-responsive site designs. According to research by Mobify, 57% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. A study by Google revealed that 52% of users that had a bad mobile experience with a company’s site were less likely to engage. If your site’s purpose is to collect lead data, ensure that the collection form is responsive to device type and will make adjustments to the layout to increase ease of navigation and form fill.

3. Optimize based on actual results

Even though mobile paid clicks are typically less expensive than desktop clicks (Covario reports a 43% difference), continual optimizations are necessary to measure your ROI and ensure you’re getting the most out of your mobile budget. Ad position and bid are the most important things you should monitor. Since Google’s shift to Enhanced Paid Search Campaigns in February 2013, mobile bids are now controlled within AdWords by campaign and ad group mobile bid modifiers. Using the AdWords modifier setting, you can increase or decrease your mobile bid by a certain percentage, relative to your desktop bid. This will help you capitalize on mobile’s lower cost per click. Average position should also be closely monitored and optimized, as your page real estate from search engine results is more limited on mobile devices due to screen size.

As the mobile landscape and the way prospective students’ search continues to evolve, so must our tactics. By utilizing campaign data and analytics, we can begin to better understand the role of mobile search in educational marketing and lead generation, resulting in smarter and more cost-conscious campaigns.

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