Mobile’s Increasingly Strong Influence in Consumer Purchase Decisions

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mobile phone userWhether it’s mobile search and display, mobile shopping, location targeting, or iBeacons, mobile is dominating today’s advertising and marketing discussions. Advertisers’ mobile focus stems in large part from the fact that mobile is also dominating consumer purchase decisions. To shed more light on the latest American mobile shopper preferences and behaviors, Telmetrics partnered with location ad platform xAd on the recently published 2014 Annual U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study, conducted by Nielsen.

The third annual installment of the xAd/Telmetrics Mobile Path-to-Purchase study shows that mobile is a powerful force throughout the consumer purchase cycle. Consumers are spending more research time on their mobile devices than on their PCs, and more than one-third of mobile users use their devices exclusively to research purchases. When it comes to the bottom of the sales funnel, offline still plays a key role in the purchase process. More than half (52 percent) of mobile shoppers reported visiting a brick-and-mortar store and 64 percent completed their transaction offline.

Mobile is the “act” device, and the survey results prove it. Mobile shoppers represent a large number of conversions with two out of three ultimately making a purchase. That number is even higher for restaurant searchers, with 80 percent looking to make a purchase.

The online survey and on-device behavioral data of 6,000 U.S. smartphone and tablet users — with emphasis on the automotive, entertainment, restaurant and telecom categories – show mobile users are making quick purchase decisions. Sixty-five percent are looking to complete their transaction within the day — or even sooner, depending on the category. More than half of restaurant and entertainment transactions are completed within the hour.

Mobile continues to step on the PC’s toes as half of smartphone users are using their devices while at home. This statistic represents a 66 percent increase over our 2013 results, and reflects the pervasive nature of mobile within consumers’ lives and reinforces an increased cannibalization of PC use.

Other interesting findings included higher mobile activity occurring at the beginning of the purchase cycle when users are most open to outside influence. Only 20 percent of mobile shoppers indicated that they knew exactly what they were looking for when starting their search, which is down from 34 percent in last year’s survey. Marketers have an opportunity to capitalize on this by engaging with mobile consumers through targeted mobile ad programs that offer guidance for fulfilling their specific purchase needs.

Location is still very important to mobile as mobile shoppers continue to cite proximity as a key purchase factor. In fact, more than half want a location to be within five miles and more than 10 percent of auto and telecom shoppers are looking for a business within walking distance. Location and price lookups remain consumers’ heaviest purchase-related mobile activities and their most important mobile features are now reviews and clear contact info/phone numbers. Interest in these features rose 75 percent and 55 percent respectively since last year’s results. Building on the importance of contact info, up to 53 percent of mobile shoppers make a call to a business and they prefer local phone numbers 3 to 1 versus toll-free numbers – yet another indicator of the role of location.

It is clear that mobile shoppers are starting farther up the purchase funnel. By keeping these key mobile consumer preferences and shopping behaviors top of mind, marketers can make the most of their U.S. mobile ad investments and optimize campaigns for the highest engagement returns. They can also gain a greater understanding of mobile consumers’ shifting priorities and how they impact overall ad strategies.

Bill DinanBill Dinan is president of Telmetrics, a provider of call measurement solutions. He joined the company in 1998. Since that time, Dinan has lead Telmetrics’ evolution from print-centric tools to multi-media, leads-based measurement solutions and was appointed president in May 2009. He can be reached at [email protected].