It’s no secret that Google has been continually moving its focus to mobile users over the past few years. But there has been a debate about whether people were using their phones for search in the way they utilize search on their desktop computers. Recent Google research says they are and then some.
A study from late 2016 asked 1,000 smartphone users to take a quick poll several times a day for a week to tell the researchers what kinds of needs they had through the day and the actions they took to meet them. What came back were 14,000 responses covering the spectrum — from finding an address to choosing restaurants to looking for coupons for a product while in the store where they were going to buy it.
When needs arise, people pull out their phones and search
It’s obvious that smartphones have changed our behavior when it comes to needs. For instance, to get to a new, unknown location we may have formerly printed out directions on MapQuest from our desktop computer. Now, we use the maps feature on our phones. We may have called a restaurant to ask about their menu. Now, we check out the menu on their website. We may have tried to remember movie times at the local theater after calling and listening to the theater recording. Now, we use an app such as Flixster or search for the theaters.
Google’s research shows that when people now have a question or a need, they pull out their phones for the answer. In fact, 96 percent of people with a smartphone go to it first.
And what do they do? They search. The data shows that 87 percent of respondents used search first when answering a question or need.
Even when ready to buy in the physical store users use their phones
When inside the physical store, users still go to their smartphones for extra information. This helps them finalize their decision before actually buying. The study shows that 70 percent of smartphone owners who bought something in a store first turned to their phones for information relevant to the purchase.
Plus, it’s as if this extra information closes the deal. When a person did conduct a search on their phone when in a store, 92 percent of them then went on to make a purchase.
These were the actions that most commonly preceded a purchase:
- 30% used a search engine
- 30% visited a store or other location
- 24% visited a retailer website or app
- 14% visited another website or app
- 13% used a map
Again, search proved to be as important as actually stopping in the store.
People use mobile search for future decisions
The Google study shows the immediacy of smartphone use to instantly solve questions or needs, but it also details long-term value. The research shows that people use their phones beyond just the quick decisions such as finding a movie showing; they also use them to make progress, gain information, or move toward a long-term decision. This is basically a research function, and 68 percent of people used mobile search to help with things they want to address at some point in the future.
This can be especially relevant to our Advice Media practices. After all, a decision to have a tummy tuck or a dental implant isn’t one made in the same way as choosing between two comparable running shoes in a store. Laying the groundwork for a future decision to go ahead with a procedure involves acquiring information on the procedure, finding available providers in the area, comparing those providers, and possibly moving toward scheduling a consultation. Google’s data shows that this research is often now being made on the potential patient’s phone.
That’s why our websites are all built with natural mobile functionality. Users accessing our practice sites on mobile don’t need to zoom and hassle with sites built for desktop. Every Advice Media site is mobile friendly. As mobile search becomes more and more the first option, you can see the value of that functionality.
If you have any questions about mobile or search trends, contact your Advice Media representative and ask away.