08/14/2013 08:44 pm ET | Updated Oct 14, 2013

Mobile Growth Challenge: Scale and Conversion

Remember when making a call outside the house meant scrounging for change and finding the nearest payphone? Fast forward a few years to when early cell phones only made phone calls. The rate at which mobile phones have evolved over the past decade is mind boggling. Mobile has changed the way people communicate, work, play, consume and share, and now it's transforming how people engage with brands.

As mobile devices expand their features and capabilities, people are finding their smartphones to be indispensable to daily function. According to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers's annual Internet trends report, smartphone users check their phones 150 times per day. What's more, smartphone adoption grew 30 percent in 2012 alone according to a recent comScore report. The evolution of mobile combined with consumers' addiction to this channel has unleashed a nearly limitless opportunity for brands.

Marketers stand at the edge of a new frontier as they refocus their strategies and spend toward mobile. Across industries, brands are creating mobile campaigns to capitalize on this largely untapped channel for engagement. However, many of these campaigns have been based on trial and error, as there isn't a rulebook to guide marketers to mobile success. With mobile, the balance is skewed between effort and results, as marketers aren't seeing much fruit from their labor.

What's the Hold-up?

With mobile usage now accounting for one out of every three internet usage minutes, one would think marketers are having a field day. Marketing has not seen this kind of potential for innovation since the Internet's early days. As with most new beginnings, mobile pioneers are still experiencing some growing pains. Despite high traffic, marketers have not figured out the best way to leverage mobile campaigns to see actual conversions. This is happening for a variety of reasons, one of the most prominent being the current fragmentation of search results -- mobile rankings change via location, personalization, and type of device. This makes tracking those rankings extremely inconsistent and difficult for even the most savvy of marketers. There is a clear struggle to crack the code as mobile conversions only amount to a third of Desktop conversions.

Removing the Roadblock

Marketers need to understand and adapt to the new ways of measuring search across all channels. There has been a massive shift in the way search engines can be leveraged thanks to new algorithms like Google's Panda and Penguin. Now, content and social cues from Facebook, Google+ and Twitter activity have a much more significant impact on results for personalized searches.

That being said, marketers should look to create content that works across multiple channels, not just mobile. Interacting in silos is a thing of the past. SERP rankings, predictability rankings, and most importantly, campaigns can no longer live in isolation and expect to be credible or impactful -- this is due in large by the fact that people engage across multiple channels and often simultaneously. Creating content like images, video, and other engaging media bolsters messaging that is channel agnostic and optimizes marketing efforts.

Another roadblock in mobile and, let's face it, marketing in general, is tying activities to ROI. Historically, tracking and measuring efforts has been a thorn in marketers' sides. A recent MarketingSherpa study discovered that a little over half of B2B marketers surveyed couldn't (or didn't) calculate the ROI of their campaigns. This phenomenon is multiplied in mobile because its so fragmented. Luckily, there is ample sophisticated marketing software available that allows marketers to track their campaigns (including mobile) against company goals and ROI. Harnessing the power of these technologies will ultimately result in creating more personalized, sincere interactions that are impactful and revenue-driven.

Reaching the Mobile Promised Land

Mobile growth presents massive opportunity for brands. If marketers can find a way to lift conversion rates above and beyond desktop, they stand to capitalize on the huge uptick in visits. Think about it -- when you're sitting on the bus or train, waiting at the airport or standing in line at the grocery story, what are you doing? You're skimming through content on your smartphone to kill time. If marketers can deliver the streamlined interaction that consumers expect, they will find a way into their audience's daily activity and will be at top of mind for purchasing decisions.