Google Instant Previews for Mobile - First Impressions

A few days ago, Google launched Instant Previews on Mobile - a neat new feature for improving search experience for mobile users. Clicking on the preview icon pulls up a set of screenshots representing the content of SERP links, helping users find relevant pages faster.

This is a great example of using client-side technology in order to improve the mobile web experience. Our first impressions are below.

Surprisingly, GIP fails to encourage users to visit some of the best mobile experiences out there - rich HTML5 mobile websites, like Google Maps. Here is the mobile preview for the "Google Maps" query:

Compare this to the actual, much prettier Mobile Google Maps:

Any site requiring a login will have a very weak preview (this is a limitation of the image thumbnailing technology used by Google):


Best previews are available for mobile websites with liquid layouts:

Sometimes GIP follows mobile device detection redirects...

...and sometimes it doesn't:

Overall, the experience is fast, non-intrusive and valuable for a lot of web content out there. To take Mobile Instant Preview to the next level, Google needs to index and promote AppStore and Android Market apps related to the search query/URL.This would solve a huge issue with discovery and retention of many useful native apps out there. 

3 Reasons why Email Marketing is Key for Mobile E-commerce

UPDATE: New stats from ComScore confirm that mobile email use is growing fast.

Recently we've been looking at the link between email marketing and mobile revenue. Turns out that a good email strategy quickly contributes to mobile purchases. Here are some of the early findings:


  1. Email is often checked first thing in the morning - from a mobile device.Are you guilty of typing up an urgent reply while still in bed? As smartphone adoption grows, email is increasingly accessed on the go. When receiving digest emails from their favourite fashion brands, many mobile users will click the product links, heading directly to the e-commerce site.

  2. Email often brings exclusive and time-sensitive promotions, creating a sense of urgency.Mobile shoppers are a lot more focused on purchasing a particular item. If something is on sale and limited in quantity, mobile devices will often be preferred.

  3. Mobile e-commerce greatly benefits from email awareness campaigns.Many online shoppers still have poor expectations for the mobile web. Letting the audience know about a fully transactional mobile store is key for driving traffic and repeat customers. Newsletters are a great channel for this type of promotion.

Email is crucial for driving growth in mobile e-commerce and should be included in every retailer's mobile marketing plan.

Mobile E-commerce: Do People Actually Buy Things On Mobile?

Here is a recent tweet by Linda Bustos from GetElastic, the leading e-commerce blog:

Aside from Amazon and EBay numbers, there simply isn't a lot of public information regarding trends in mobile e-commerce transactions. This makes the total volume hard to tell. Here are some observations that we'd like to share with you today:

  1. Mobile users buy even from "desktop" stores that don't have a mobile version.The volume is already quite significant. If there is a good bargain to be had or when the purchase is time-sensitive, the user will find a way to get what they want. In a recent conversation, an online retailer stated that mobile users of their desktop store bought over a million dollars worth of merchandise in 2010. Had the mobile store been in place, the sales would have been even higher!
  2. Launching a mobile store will multiply mobile revenue by at least 2x over the first 100 days.We are testing several versions of this "rule of thumb" with the goal of publishing a white paper sometime in Q2. The aggregate effects of reduced bounce rates, improved conversions and a better user experience have a very positive effect on the bottom line for any store.
  3. iPad and other tablets are in their own revenue segment.It's not uncommon to see iPad reported as the #1 mobile device by a retailer (that's the default Google Analytics setting, as well). However, the iPad is competing with the desktop browsers much more so than with mobile devices. Tablet users typically have an easier time navigating regular websites and should be measured separately when it comes to bounce rates, conversions and revenue.

It's clear that mobile e-commerce transactions for physical goods are increasingly more common, with many IR500 retailers having cleared seven and eight-figure thresholds in 2010. Everything points to mobile revenue growth accelerating in 2011, as well.

Mobile Web Is Not (Yet) Ready For Business Model Innovation

Here's Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon:

I think that we’ll continue to see more companies ... who put us [Groupon] to shame a couple years from now with their rate of growth.

According to Andrew, Groupon grew so quickly thanks to its social features. What's going to drive web hyper-growth in 2012? The mobile web - but it's not ready yet.

Consider, the darling of early adopters this winter. It's up to a million users, growing through Twitter and app downloads - which is awesome. However, many are lost at every stage of the acquisition funnel - clicking the AppStore link, installing, learning the native UI. What if you could start taking photos & applying filters via the mobile browser - right after clicking that very first link? They'd probably be at 5-10 million users by now. Today, the website isn't even mobile-friendly.

Universal JavaScript APIs for mobile cameras are on their way (you can use PhoneGap in the meantime) - but not today, limiting growth opportunities for mobile-centric web services.

Another good example is online advertising (search or display), where every mobile click leading to a desktop page will convert at a disastrously low rate. This inhibits a lot of mobile innovation in pay-for-performance advertising - especially in e-commerce.

Mobile web has to get more mobile in order to facilitate business models of tomorrow. Let's do our part to make it happen!