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How is The Coronavirus Impacting Mobile SEO Behaviors? – Cindy Krum // MobileMoxie

Episode Overview: As the world stands still to combat the spread of Coronavirus, our limited mobility is impacting the way we use mobile technology in various different ways. Join host Ben as he continues Mobile Marketing Week with MobileMoxie CEO Cindy Krum, as she discusses how lifestyle changes caused by coronavirus are uniquely impacting mobile search.

Summary

  • Access to technology disparities are much more visible as some family households have to share home laptops and desktops for work and home education.
  • Mom and pop shops and independent businesses are getting more creative with consumers, providing events like online auctions to draw in consumers.
  • Telemedicine is growing in response to consumers’ limited mobility and access to public services.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                  Welcome to Mobile Marketing Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day discussing what you need to know to optimize your mobile SEO efforts for max impact. Joining us for Mobile Marketing Week is Cindy Krum, who is the founder and CEO of MobileMoxie, which is a mobile-centric set of tools and APIs that help SEOs gain better insights into their mobile experiences. Yesterday, Cindy and I talked about the changes in the mobile landscape over the last year and today we’re going to talk about some of the things that she’s noticed in terms of how mobility is being impacted by the lifestyle changes caused by the coronavirus. Okay, here’s the second installment of Mobile Marketing Week with Cindy Krum from MobileMoxie. Cindy, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Cindy:                Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Ben:                    I’m excited to have you back. I’m sad that we have to talk about this next topic. It’s obviously on everybody’s mind. It’s affecting everything we do, where we live, how we work, how we communicate. The coronavirus is impacting the whole world. I’m assuming that it’s also impacting the mobile world and SEO as well. Talk to me about some of the changes that you see happening. User behavior optimization, what’s going on in mobility when it comes to the changes caused by the coronavirus?

Cindy:                 So, great questions. I think what we can see is an obvious increase towards everything and anything that can be delivered as well as online experiences. So we know that Zoom is taking off as a means of communication without passing germs, so that’s great. But also I think there’s been a surge in things like online gaming and all different kinds of uses of apps for entertainment. There’s been a surge in Netflix and any kind of video streaming that usually originates from a phone or an app, and unfortunately I think that there is probably going to be an increase in job searches and use of gig economy types of apps to help people out who may have been laid off or furloughed help keep the cash flowing.

Ben:                     People’s lifestyles are obviously changing. You mentioned entertainment on the positive side. Tools that allow us to connect allow us to work remotely. Some people are looking for jobs and sources of income. When we think about the way that people use devices, my assumption would have been people are sitting in front of their computer more often since the outbreak of the coronavirus. They’re at home. They can have the big screen. My guests, after we’ve talked a little bit offline is that’s not actually happening. People aren’t just typing away, they’re really using their phone and their connected devices. Have we seen any indication that there is a shift in the way that people are searching since the outbreak of the coronavirus?

Cindy:                 Well, so I do think that there will be probably a bump in mobile searches because you and I are lucky enough to still have jobs and if the job provides a computer that was not lost, but many people actually lost their access to a full-time computer if they lost their jobs, AKA the company owns the computer, their main computer they were working on. So they may be switching back to phone only or phone and tablet in cases like that. But then again, there are people who have a laptop or a desktop that is their own that lives at their house with them. And in cases like that, I think that you’re right, that the hours of screening time have gone up. And that’s especially true for people who are having to do homeschooling for kids and things like that. And in fact, I know even people in our industry who now have to share their computer with the kid and they have to schedule computer time so that they can work and their kids can go to school because not every household has enough computers for everyone.

Ben:                     Yeah. It’s interesting that when we talk about the impact of the coronavirus on how people’s mobile adoption is actually happening, access to devices becomes really the critical component. It’s not necessarily, “Hey, I’m sitting in front of my computer, but it’s just easier to use my phone.” It’s actually really, do you have both devices and can you get access to one? Makes a lot of sense. You mentioned some of the industries that are changing. We’re seeing education, we’re seeing communication, we’re seeing services delivered. What are the other shifts that you’re seeing? Are they industries or other things that are changing that you’ve noticed in terms of mobile adoption in today’s environment?

Cindy:                 Well, so there’s one thing that’s happened that I hope sticks around and that is a lot of the companies that have shifted to free shipping for so long it was just Amazon Prime and they would get you two days shipping. But now with everyone staying at home, there are a lot of companies, and even ones you wouldn’t think of, that have shifted to having a free delivery option. And for years I’ve resented paying shipping fees because I know how much companies save in terms of not having to have a store, not having to have users [showroom] and stuff like that. Websites save companies loads of money compared to offline retail, and so I was like, “Why am I paying shipping? I’m already saving them money by not going into the store.”

Cindy:                 And so now lots of companies have shifted to free shipping and I’m super happy about that. And it’s only fair for consumers and it makes using the website more appealing. There’s less of a disincentive because sometimes I know that shoppers get to the shopping cart and they’re like, “Oh I have $35 of stuff and I don’t want to hit the $50 threshold.” Or, “I don’t want to pay $10 shipping on this one thing. I’ll just wait.” And so that’s been hurting conversion rates. And so having free shipping should help conversion rates in general. What do you think?

Ben:                     I think it’d be nice to … I think free shipping is always a nice value add. I think my concern a lot of the times is the profitability of businesses and their ability to move online in scale. Specifically when we look at the SMBs who are just developing their digital presence, and that really is one of the places where I see the biggest shift caused by the coronavirus, is all of the brick and mortar, mom and pops, not necessarily the food deliveries, there’s a pretty easy transition there, but any sort of local service, other retailer, good provider that didn’t have an established ecommerce presence, now all of a sudden is kind of behind the eight ball. They don’t have a lot of content. They don’t have a web presence. It’s not their core competence. To me that’s the business where I’m concerned. It’s like, what happens to your favorite local stores in this environment? As you start thinking about moving towards mobility and ecommerce, moving online, what thoughts do you have on the impact for businesses that are traditionally offline?

Cindy:                  Yeah, it’s tough. I think that there’s room for a marketplace that’s not Amazon, but that’s a lot of small inventory, local mom and pops, kind of like an Etsy, somewhere between an Amazon and an Etsy.

Ben:                      It’s called eBay.

Cindy:                  Perhaps eBay. Maybe something that’s a bit more customizable for the seller. So I think that there might be an opportunity there, but I do agree with you that those are the companies that are going to suffer the most in this who, have not already gotten online and don’t have alternate vehicles for selling things like boutiques and small-

Ben:                      Service providers.

Cindy:                  … Kinds of things where the experience was part of it. Any kind of offline services, hair nail massage, those kinds of things, also are struggling. Yeah, so the gig economy might come in and help with those. And then there’s also … So, gig economy where you book someone come to your house, although that’s still a violation of rules at this point. But there are some companies that are creative that I see doing creative things. Like one of my favorite examples is a company called Holy Cow Couture, and they do Western style purses and customized bags so you can special order things or whatever. It’s all very fringy and whatever.

Ben:                     Yee-haw.

Cindy:                 Yee-haw, exactly. But they’re very clever. They’ve gotten a huge following because they do live auctions on Facebook every Thursday, and so people tune in and will bid. So they’ll show a bag and then people bid on things in the comments and then they announce a winner. And this has actually really taken off and they have many, many people watching their auctions every week and spending lots of money and actually paying more than the bags sell for on the website in this auction outfit. And so that’s one where the website was absolutely atrocious, I haven’t looked to see if they’ve improved it, but it was almost unusable. But they worked around it and are selling a lot through these options and getting a lot of eyeballs on their stuff with just hiring a good photographer for the showcase stuff that they put on Facebook and then having a live stream auction.

Ben:                    As we think about the shift or mobility specifically for ecommerce, my guess is that there’s a lot of opportunity here and that the ecommerce experience and specifically one that’s mobile optimized for small brands, sure there’s the Shopifys of the world, but there are a lot of SMBs and mom and pop shops that just don’t have the technical expertise to be able to manage Shopify. My guess is there are going to be services that you see pop up that help the boutique businesses move towards a digital offering. The other thing I want to ask you about, yesterday we were talking about the landscape shift and how we’re seeing more of a shift towards voice search and not necessarily just through your phone, but the home and connected devices and the other IoT devices. With everyone being at home all of the time, oh my God, it’s so much time at home, do you see an impact in how people are using voice search as a tool for mobile search?

Cindy:               I wonder if the people who are lonely are talking to their virtual assistants a lot more. I don’t know.

Ben:                   My wife used to joke that I talked to Siri more than I talked to her, and I can tell you that that’s not the case anymore.

Cindy:               Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s too early to tell how much the being at home is going to drive voice search. I think boredom may drive a lot of experimentation and people who hadn’t tried it yet might be willing to try it or play with it or see what it can do.

Ben:                   It’s obviously early days when it comes to how the lifestyle changes related to the coronavirus are impacting us. I’m going to throw in the public service announcement that I feel is obligatory. If you’re listening to this podcast and you haven’t washed your hands in the last 25 minutes, please go do so. Go to the cdc.gov for information, practice social distancing, let’s flatten the curve. I know that you’re here for SEO, but this is something that not only impacts mobility, our ability to get outside, the more that we’re able to stay healthy and knock this thing down, the faster we’ll be able to get back out there and start using our voice search as we’re roaming around our phones and getting back to work.

Cindy:               You bring up an interesting topic that should get a shout-out here too, and that’s telemedicine.

Ben:                   Absolutely, yeah.

Cindy:               Telemedicine has a distinct need right now and I expect that a lot of the things that people learn how to do in this time period will carry forward into their businesses, and telemedicine is actually pretty great if you don’t actually have to be touched and seen by a doctor, they can just-

Ben:                   Show someone that rash that’s growing on you. If you can do that through FaceTime, it’s wonderful.

Cindy:               Yeah.

Ben:                   Not speaking for you or my personal experience,

Cindy:               It’s something that should have been done years ago in terms of saving people time and effort and energy. Like driving across town to see a doctor, just to tell them that your tummy hurts. Maybe they need to see you, maybe they don’t. But this might make people more efficient in that. But then just on the funny side, I love … I watch the news quite a bit and I love seeing how all of the people are struggling like we do every day in conference calls. Going, “I have an echo,” or whatever it is or talking over each other because of the time delay.

Ben:                   Yeah.

Cindy:               I think it’s hilarious.

Ben:                   You know when we talk about mobility, my wife sent me a video that unfortunately this effect of the coronavirus. It was a girl who was on a conference call with 12 people and decided to start using the bathroom and forgot that her video was on. Everyone. When we’re talking about mobility and you’re on Zoom conferences, just make sure that you check whether the Zoom line has video on as a default before you decide to use the bathroom, also don’t forget how to use the mute button.

Ben:                   And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Cindy Krum, CEO of MobileMoxie. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Cindy, you can find a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter where her handle is MobileMoxie, M-O-B-I-L-E-M-O-X-I-E. Or you can visit her company’s website which is mobilemoxie.com.

Ben:                   Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests, you can send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions, you can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is voicesofsearch on Twitter and my personal handle is BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.

Ben:                   And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed in addition to part two of our conversation with Cindy Krum, CEO of MobileMoxie, we’re going to publish an episode every day during the workweek. So hit that subscribe button in your podcast app and check back in your feed tomorrow morning when Cindy and I talk about what a fraggle is, fragment and handle, and why it’s impacting the mobile world. All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.