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Cindy Krum (MobileMoxie): ‘Marketers should look at their phones more often’

29 January 2020

I recon you must have been very young when you started in marketing. Way before the iPhone you already had a strong vision and voice on the mobile spectrum. In 2010 you published “Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are” and your company is the greatest and oldest (2008!) Mobile marketing and mobile Tooling oriented company’s out there. For those who have been living under a stone last decade, next to a marketer, an SEO, an CEO and an author, who is Cindy? ?

Well, the truth is that those things take up a lot of time. Beyond that, I love animals, and spend a lot of time with my dog Barkley. I also love travel, love to laugh, and I am addicted to listening to audio books – I am dyslexic, so in some ways, Audible has changed my life! I also have a degree in art, so I love to make things with my hands, though I don’t get to do it as often as I would like.

And how old were you when you had your first mobile phone and what brand and model was it?

Good question! I had my first mobile phone in highschool – I think sophomore year, so I would have been about 14. I don’t remember the brand – probably Nokia, but I do remember that I was confused about the difference between hanging up and turning it off. I also remember 3 years later when a friend got a phone and told me it had ‘the internet’ on it. It was a text-only, closed-garden style internet, with number-selection menus to navigate – probably from T-mobile. I distinctly remember telling him that while that stuff might have been ‘on the internet’ it was definitely not ‘the internet.’

If you had to choose and you could just pick one device what would it be: Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop? And why
Another great question – no one has asked me this before! I think I would pick phones, because now they can cast to big screens, and even project a keyboard that use video to figure out what keys you are touching – stuff like that sometimes blows my mind! It would have to be a really great phone though, but so much software is moving to the cloud now, that relying on the phone as a personalized, portable device that can dock with bigger things, and leverage the cloud is now within the realm of possibilities.

In your book, one of the first statements you make is: “Mobile Marketing is the most personal form of web marketing”, if you would edit your book, would you still hold on to this statement or has technology changed the mobile game completely since 2010? I mean, what are your thoughts now on mobile marketing in comparison to 2010 when it was mostly messaging / email and the start off mobile apps.

Mobile has changed a lot since 2010, but I still believe that statement to be true. In some ways, it seems like the personalization, and the false sense of privacy that people feel when they are on their phone had caused a lot of big problems – when you think about all of Facebook’s problems. Something else that most people have yet to feel major outrage about is the GPS in the phones. Most people are aware of the GPS, but forget about it when they are not using it, or think that turning location information off is good enough – but I am not so sure. Just think what you could do from a marketing perspective, if someone sent you a year’s worth of GPS data for a certain population! It could be very creepy!

I agree, but ignorance is bliss. Even if it is a chosen ignorance ?. What are your thoughts on Sparktoro’s research about zero-click results and in particular the decreasing of the Mobile CTR. Do we have to take action?

I think the information that Rand is putting out from Sparktoro is fascinating and scary at the same time. I do believe it is true, and feel like it is a problem. I would hope that there will be some self-correction from Google, and the pendulum would swing back a bit, but this is not a guarantee. Our places in Google have never been guaranteed, so it seems like clever marketers who were great at ranking in Google’s algorithms will have to continue to evolve and be more clever. We believe that there will be a growing set of opportunities to rank with video and audio content, as well as How-To style content that is in any format. FAQ, Fact and Q&A content is also a main focus, since Google has started considering itself an Answer Engine, instead of a Search Engine. Having good web pages is a strategy for Search Engines. Having good, authoritative, simple answers is a strategy for an Answer Engine.

It’s all about the intent. I wonder in what way Google will eventually transform rich SERP items like the FAQ serp or the Featured snippet into the paid advertising spectrum. We will always be too late when we know eventually.

Everything is increasingly getting more and more mobile, if I would ask the second question to a great deal of people in my network I am sure over 90% will pick the phone. The KaiOS project, the getting online of 800million offline people etc. Why are we as marketers still mostly focused on big screens do you think? What has to happen to make us see the light?

This is a big problem that MobileMoxie is trying to help solve. Marketers work on their computers, so they test searches on their computers, and look at results on their computers, but the truth is, they should be looking at their phones. We created the SERPerator tool (which is free for 5 tries) to let marketers who are sitting at their desks, still easily test on phones, and even save tests over time and take screenshots or videos. You can choose from a bunch of different phones and select any location in the world – down to the street address, set any phone language, and see what real results look like. We have spent a lot of time making these tools perfect and validating the results with friends around the world. We also have the Page-oscope, for doing roughly the same thing to test and preview landing pages on different phones, from different locations.

One of the biggest problems is that many SEO tools still focus on desktop too. We have built API’s to both of these tools to help encourage the big SEO tools to let their users see real, interactive mobile SERPs and real, interactive mobile landing pages in their platforms, so that all of the SEOs using their tools can do a better job really serving their customers.

And we should all just throw away our laptops and cast ou screens to out monitors indeed! But then again, one of the things that frightens me the most is the really bad conversion rate on mobile for ecommerce platforms. We are doing everything to get the users to our (mobile) website via various methods, using the SERP features to the max (Fraggles as you call some off them ?), but it’s only resulting in less traffic and less conversions (on the broad range of websites and audiences). Will users ever convert on mobile as good as they do on big screens?

Yes – I think they will. This is different by generation, and different by location, but in general, you are right. Conversion tends to be harder to get on a mobile phone. Part of this is often because webmasters and developers are not testing their conversion process on phones – this is part of the value of the Page-oscope, and part of why we created it – the pages are fully interactive, and you can go all the way to actually completing a purchase on a mobile device from our tools. Test-test-test!
Google is pushing hard on PWAs, partially because people convert better in apps. PWAs feel like apps, but they actually live on the web. Google is also working into their own eco-system to make mobile conversion easier – especially in PWAs by helping manage the register/login and pay portions of a conversion – sometimes with only one or two clicks. Simplifying this, and making users confident that it is secure should go a long way to help improve mobile conversions across the board.

And what are your thoughts on conversational search? Do you ask everything orally or do you still type? And where do you see this going?

I do think that conversational ‘search’ is going to be a big deal, but the problem that marketers have is thinking of it as ‘search.’ Google talks about it in terms of micro-moments – I want to Go, I want to Know, I want to Buy, I want to Do. If you think about conversational search like this, you realize that sometimes it is less of a ‘search’ and more of a ‘command’ or even a simple ‘information retrieval.’ For instance, asking my Google home is less of a search – it knows where I live, and just pulls today’s weather data from an XML feed. It is more of an information request, because it is not ‘searching’ the internet at large for it. I think that there will be more opportunities to provide Google utilities like this, such as Google Actions, Google Assistant Apps and Google Instant Apps – all of these are basically giving Google access to a database of information and relationships, with a ‘skin’ for when it is presented on the web – but the main value is in the cloud, and all the functionality can happen in the cloud, with the database. This is the shift that marketers need to be ready for.

it’s all getting more and more interesting! I love it. In 10 years from now, what greatness do you see coming for “mobile” and more important, is mobile still an entity apart from “regular” or is there no difference anymore?

Mobile is still different, because every device is somewhat different. If they were not, we would not need or want to use all of them. The differences in the devices reflect the differences in the use-cases, but Google’s unified register, login and purchase system could be a game changer. SEO’s go a long way to joke about how voice search has not taken off, and never will, and that there is no way to optimize for it, but I think they are wrong. It is and will continue to be a game changer, but it is happening in subtle ways, like I mentioned in the previous question about conversational search – and it is not always ‘search.’ In the same way that cell phones made it so that we never had to remember a phone number, voice search will de-couple us from remembering or knowing many things.

If you think about voice remotes, for a TV, you already can forget the number of your favorite channel, and you don’t have to know what channels play a particular show – you can just voice-search for your show, or for the brand name of the channel – the number is forgotten. Voice search will make it so that we don’t have to remember things like domains – users won’t care if the information came from a brand’s website, or just their database of information.

Thank you so much for your great answers! I cannot wait to see you on our stage! What greatness can we expect from your presentation at FOS, and why should nobody miss it?
The presentation for FOS is a new one about how language impacts search results. Most SEO’s believe that changing the query language is enough to see what a result looks like in a different language, but this is actually not true – at least in mobile. The query language and the device language, or the language setting in search both impact Google’s query understanding. This is important for SEO’s who are jumping onto things like BERT, ALbert and the Natural Language API. This is also important for zero-click searches, because different language settings on a phone can determine if there will be a Knowledge Graph, Map or Featured Snippet in the search result or not. Google’s understanding comes from language and Entities, and these are what control all of the content at the top of most zero-click search results.

Unfortunately, we have decided not to organize a Belgian edition of Friends of Search in 2024. The 11th edition of Friends of Search we are organising in the Netherlands. Belgian visitors are of course more than welcome. Join us on March 21, 2024, in de Kromhouthal in Amsterdam.

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