Jeff Allen, an Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing, conducted this interview with Josh Aston. Josh is Director of Online Marketing at Progrexion (which is not a client of Hanapin Marketing.) He is leading Progrexion’s efforts in the mobile marketplace.

Jeff: At Hanapin, we take a much different approach to Mobile devices than we do for desktop. Specifically, we try to truly understand how the device changes the intent of the searcher. In what ways is your strategy for approaching PPC advertising on mobile different from your approach to computer-based searches?

Josh: In short, mobile screen size (real estate) and message is key to mobile success and differ from desktop users. Real estate is an obvious consideration with mobile users (non-tablet) being likely to see 320 pixels wide by and about 400-500 pixels in length. That’s not a lot of pixels when you are looking to communicate a message that will catch the interest of the consumer.  Not only is the real estate smaller, but you also have the consumer in a very different state. Consumers are typically looking for a quick solution and very well may be “on the go”.

As marketing professionals, we have the challenge of doing more, with less.

I think one of the best places to start is by setting up a mobile test landing page and then testing to see what the mobile user is interested in. Compare and contrast this with what you typically would see with a “desktop” consumer and you’d learn a lot about what you need to be doing to effectively convert the mobile users.

Jeff: We’ve found that conversion rates can improve by as much as 300% when mobile searchers are sent to mobile optimized landing pages. What convinced you to invest in mobile specific landing pages?

Josh: Mobile adoption and trends of our consumers visiting our non-mobile site have been most influential with our decisions to commit more resources to mobile.

Mobile usage is growing at astounding rates. Gartner (June 2011) projects that Mobile Advertising Revenue in just North America will go from 701 Million In 2011 to 5.7 Billion in 2015. Figure out mobile now and you’ll be in a much better spot to capture that revenue and value of that rising traffic.

Jeff: Many of our clients tell us that leads generated from mobile devices convert to sales at very profitable rates for them. Have you noticed anything unique about the leads your mobile campaigns generate for you? e.g. higher or lower than average conversion rates.

Josh: Mobile users are ready to take action. We have had great results, when applicable, at providing “click to call” functionality built-in to the landing pages. It’s easy for a mobile user to click a phone number. They don’t have to type in the number and they are ready to take action.

Jeff: Our clients are increasing mobile spend so that it will make up as much as 30% of their total PPC spend this year. Do you expect your investment in mobile PPC to increase over the next year? Why or why not?

Josh: We are seeking to dedicate more budget and resources to mobile, particularly in search marketing channels. Our preliminary testing had shown stellar results and the trends of adoption can’t be ignored. Either we can get serious in the mobile advertising space or we can let our competitors dominate it. We are choosing the former.

Jeff: Have inbound calls to your call center increased since increasing your focus on mobile PPC? How has the quality of those calls compared to the quality of the inbound calls you were receiving prior to investing in mobile PPC?

Josh: This is a tricky one. It’s important to take what you know about your consumer-base propensity to inbound call and to apply what you already know in the mobile environment. If you don’t make it convincing and easy for your consumers to call in from the mobile page, then your results could decrease (they want solutions, but are not as willing to research for great lengths of time on a mobile device). However, if you have a consumer on a mobile device looking at your site, then they have the ability to inbound call right in their hands. Give them an enticing reason to call and the likelihood to take action goes way up.

Jeff: What channels, beyond PPC, do you plan on extending your mobile marketing to?

Josh: We are seeing increases in percent of mobile visitors to our properties across all channels, not just search. This trend is not changing anytime soon, particularly with the teen demographic. Pew Internet & American Life Project reported in April 2010 that  75% of 12-17 year-olds now own a cell phone (12-17 year olds!).  This statistic was only 45% back in 2004. 25% of those teens contact their friends by Social Network Site and Mobile is a handy way to do that. I think a key to mobile success if figuring out how to leverage the growing Social channel.  If you aren’t convinced mobile is a great opportunity today, look to these trends as an indicator of what we have to expect as areas of opportunity in the next 3, 5, and 10 years. Do you think long-term? Nielsen just reported that 57% of all children in tablet owning families use tablets for educational apps. As children and teens grow, they are becoming more and more familiar with phones and tablets.

Jeff: Hanapin Marketing recommends that our clients make mobile a focus in 2012. Specifically starting with campaigns that are already working well for them, and then branching out if the ROI is there. What advice do you have for other marketing executives regarding mobile PPC marketing?

Josh: Many are concerned about going “all in” on a mobile homepage or site. If you are hesitant on spending significant money on mobile, start by simply testing 1 or 2 mobile landing page. Paid Search allows you to test very specific traffic and to not have to invest thousands of dollars to build out an entire mobile site. Find a great area of opportunity and test it with an established traffic source, such as paid search.

Jeff: Thank you for the great advice and information about mobile, Josh!