If you haven’t optimized your PPC campaigns for your mobile users, then you could be leaving conversions on the table.

In her latest Internet Trends Report, venture capitalist Mary Meeker found that we consume 12% of our media on our mobile devices yet only 3% of advertising dollars are being devoted to mobile ad spend.

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Is there a disconnect between your users’ behavior and the way you’re spending your PPC budget?

While this is a pretty shocking discrepancy, it’s also a perfect opportunity for you to get ahead of your competitors. Creating each of your PPC campaigns with your mobile users in mind keeps you ahead of the class – and leaves you with happy users and healthy returns on your investment.

But how exactly should you be catering to your mobile users? How can you ensure that your ads and landing pages create a positive experience for them? To find out, I reached out to eight PPC marketers and asked what they were surprised to learn about their mobile users – and how they adapted their campaigns accordingly.

Here are the battle-tested tactics they shared, so you can get to work at making your PPC campaigns a little more mobile-friendly.

1. Use mobile-friendly landing pages

Your PPC campaigns should be sending mobile traffic to dedicated, mobile-friendly landing pages.

Though this one may sound obvious to a seasoned PPC marketer, Brian Rotsztein, head of boutique online marketing agency Uniseo, sees people making this mistake again and again:

Image of Brian Rotsztein“The single biggest mistake companies make is that they set up a PPC account for search engine users to find their products and services, then lead them to desktop versions of their landing pages. This makes no sense. It’s such a waste of money yet I see companies doing that every single day. If you want to get the most out of your mobile/responsive PPC campaign, make sure your landing pages are mobile-friendly.”

Takeaways for your PPC campaigns:

Okay, so you understand the importance of mobile-friendly landing pages for your PPC campaigns – but how do you get started? Here are a couple of optimization tips from the pros:

  • Brad Geddes: “Make sure that all phone numbers are hyperlinked to the phone number so its one click to load the phone dialer.”
  • Johnathan Dane: “With mobile forms, make sure your different input fields automatically switch the mobile keyboards to alphabetical vs numeric depending on if it’s name (alphabetical), phone (numerical), email (alphabetical), zip code (numerical), etc.”

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2. Focus on short tail keywords

Your mobile users are all thumbs – literally.

Because it’s not easy for them to type in long search queries, they’re likely searching for for shorter keywords – and Johnathan Dane, President and Co-Founder of Disruptive Advertising explains that you should adapt your PPC campaigns accordingly:

Image of Jonathan DanePeople type in more short tail keywords compared to long tail on mobile.

This comes back to quickness and speed, so make sure your headlines are short and to the point and that your loading time is fast as lightning.”

Takeaways for your PPC campaigns:

  • For your mobile PPC campaigns, focus on short tail keywords.
  • Mobile users may have slower internet connections, so make sure your landing pages load quickly.

3. Be as clear and concise as possible

With slower internet connections and limited typing capability, Johnathan explained that your users’ attention spans are as short as their keywords:

“People have even less of an attention span on mobile compared to desktop. This means that you need to get to the point as soon as possible with your landing pages – be clear instead of clever and reduce as much text as you can.”

In order to adapt to this short attention span, Alhan Keser, Senior Conversion Strategist at WiderFunnel, explained that you need to start by understanding your mobile users’ goals:

Image of Alhan Keser“Smartphone visitors are much more single goal oriented. If you’re trying to persuade them to take an action unrelated to why they came to the page in the first place, good luck: you’ll need to get creative.”

For Alhan, optimizing your PPC campaigns for mobile users is all about understanding their goals – and then demonstrating that they can be completed quickly and easily:

“Considering the mobile context in which a page is being seen, we’ve successfully tested language that is in line with the visitors mindset: this will be quick, easy, and you can do it via your device.

We have not seen a mobile-specific test where cutting down the amount of content in favor of more concise, well-worded copy did not help.”

Takeaways for your PPC campaigns:

  • Get right to the point. Your ad and landing page copy should be clear – not clever.
  • Use language that reassures visitors that completing the desired action will be quick and easy to complete on their device.

4. Run mobile ad campaigns during business hours

When interacting with your landing page, your mobile users behave differently than your desktop users; Avtar Ram Singh, Digital Marketing Manager at Circus Social, explained that they’re more likely to phone in:

Image of Avtar Ram Singh

“Something fairly obvious that jumped out at us was that we received a ton of phone calls from people that were browsing our page on their mobile phones. They’d access the landing page, go through the information, see our phone number, and call us.”

40% of our enquiries came from direct phone calls and about 80-85% of those converted into meetings. Once we saw this, we started running the ad campaigns on mobile during times that we were available in the office so that in the event anyone decided to call – we’d be around. We stopped ad campaigns before 10 AM and after 6 PM and limited them to weekdays. “

Takeaways for your PPC campaigns:

  • Your mobile users are more likely to call you; optimize your mobile landing pages by including your phone number.
  • Only drive traffic to your mobile ad campaigns when someone is available to pick up the phone. Run bid adjustments to cut off traffic to your landing page overnight and on weekends.

5. Find ways to reduce typing

Everything on your mobile landing pages – including your opt-in forms – should be concise. Josh Krafchin, founder of Clever Zebo, explained why:
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“There are a lot of people still using old devices: iPhone 4S, non-smart phones, etc. Yes, the big cell phone creators do everything they can to boost sales by upgrade, but don’t underestimate how many older devices are out there. Where possible, we try to simplify so it’s easy to run on all devices, browsers, etc. In practice, though, we focus on the 80% use cases and do our best with the outliers.”

Josh explained that a large part of optimizing your campaigns for all mobile advices is to find ways to reduce typing:

“People are more likely to take an action if made easy. Finding ways to reduce typing can be crucial: e.g. social login instead of form fill out, integrating with payment solutions that already have payer information loaded, multi-select over free-form text.”

Takeaways for your PPC campaigns:

  • On your campaign landing pages, include typing shortcuts such as social login and multi-select boxes instead of free-form text.
  • Make sure your landing pages render properly on all devices – and don’t forget to test.

6. Optimize for users in the searching phase

Many of the PPC marketers I spoke to explained that mobile users are less likely to purchase than people browsing on their desktop. Here’s what Brad Geddes – one of only two Google-approved AdWords Seminar Leaders in the world – had to say:

Image of Brad Geddes“One interesting behavior we see on mobile devices is that someone will search, find our company, take a look around, and then when they are ready to take some action, they search again on the desktop and repeat the same behavior except they will also convert.

Of course, a lot of users will take action on the mobile site; but in many cases, search is a connection point between devices and not direct navigation. This means that we know we need to attribute some value to our mobile ads even when they don’t directly lead to conversions in some cases.”

Joel Harvey, COO and Conversion Optimization Expert at Conversion Sciences has observed similar mobile user behavior:

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“On a lead generation page, mobile visitors often respond better to content and offers that are in the middle of the decision making funnel, compared with desktop and tablet visitors who are more likely to respond to bottom of the funnel content and offers.

This is a function of the 1st screen to 2nd screen phenomenon, where consumers begin their search for a solution or product less formally on a mobile device and switch to a larger form factor device as they narrow in on their choices and get closer to buying.”

Takeaways for your PPC campaigns:

  • Users often use their mobile device to search for a solution – but they’re not necessarily ready to convert. Your mobile landing page should communicate your unique value proposition and explain what distinguishes you from the competition.
  • Even if your mobile users are less likely to convert, you need to dedicate resources to creating a positive, mobile-friendly experience for them – otherwise, you may turning qualified prospects away. Here’s what Brad Gedes suggests:

“Your mobile ads should focus on mobile actions, such as calls and driving directions; which can be accomplished with ad extensions.”

Remember that your mobile and desktop users are the same people

At the end of the day, optimizing your PPC campaigns for mobile users will only work when you understand that your mobile users and desktop users are the same people. As Theresa Baiocco of Conversion Max explained:


Image of Theresa Baiocco“PPC best practices don’t really change for mobile/responsive landing pages; it still boils down to sending the right people to the right pages at the right time – and convincing them to take action.

The part that changes is what constitutes the “right page” for someone on a mobile device because it’s very different from the right page for someone on desktop.”

Determining what constitutes “the right page” is a question of reading up on best practices and then testing all assumptions.

…You knew this was coming, right? No conversion rate optimization post would be complete without a disclaimer that you should “always be testing.” So, here we go:

Always be testing.

Over to you – do you have any mobile-specific PPC campaign advice that wasn’t listed here? Please share it in the comments!