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Desktop Marketing vs. Mobile Marketing

Rebel Staff,

Updated: December 2021

The exponential growth of mobile consumers (using smartphones or tablets) has made mobile marketing a major focus for digital marketers and business owners alike. 

But where do mobile marketing strategies stand in comparison to desktop marketing? Where should you, as a business owner, focus your marketing efforts? In this article we explore the difference between mobile and desktop marketing in reaching consumers, and provide better insight as to how your company should balance its attention between the two.

Apple Macbook, IPad and IPhone lined up next to each other on a wooden table.
With so many electronic devices to choose from and search on, it’s important for marketers to know how they can leverage each one to meet consumer needs. With an increase in mobile usage, many are operating with a mobile-first mindset, but that doesn’t mean desktop marketing efforts are obsolete.

Does Mobile Marketing Take the Crown?

Lacie from the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” turning around with a phone in her hand smiling and then frowning

Mobile-focused marketing strategies tend to be the winner when it comes to things like engaging consumers. With mobile devices being extremely multi-faceted, it’s easier for consumers to lock in their attention and respond to marketing messages. Statistics show consumers Tweet and share at a much greater rate when using their mobile devices. This is excellent for organizations that are trying to be heard, or e-commerce sites with a timely sale. Mobile marketing is also surprisingly more beneficial for videos as viewers watch full-screen on their mobile phones, completely focused on the content. Desktop screens tend to display ads or other videos on the side of the one being shown. This allows users to get distracted from your message.

As you might expect, mobile flourishes with location-based marketing—sharing the right message to match a user’s location and actions. Location-based mobile marketing strategies are vital to any business with a storefront, a bit less important if your business is “in the cloud.” Many users are more likely to type in “near me” searches on their mobile devices, and use voice search capabilities, such as Siri, to do their browsing. A robust local SEO strategy becomes especially important to factor into mobile sites due to its impact on organic search traffic.

With this continued upward trend of mobile use, you’ll want to dedicate resources to mobile-specific marketing efforts, regardless of your business. This means designing advertising creative with a mobile-first mindset, as many are currently doing with websites. “In today’s market, mobile first creative should be not only every designer’s mindset, but all those who fall under the marketing world umbrella,” says Rebel’s Associate Design Director, Corey Hutchison. “Even campaigns that won’t be primarily on mobile should still be designed to create a seamless mobile experience. It’s important to do this to help increase your customer reach, build stronger relationships with your users and create new revenue channels for your business.” 

With some ad sizes being more popular on mobile vs. desktop, it is important to optimize ad creative for the device the consumer is using. In terms of responsive web design, you’ll want to make sure your pages render well on mobile devices. This means running testing with a mobile-first approach and ensuring that images, forms, and other elements are responsive to an alteration in screen size.

For those of you who think mobile is the complete future, you’re not alone. Take a look at these mobile marketing statistics, offered by Semrush. They note that in 2019, mobile device usage matched up with PC usage, but now it is expected to continue to grow over the next few years. In addition to this, they make the remark that “the growth of mobile usage is thanks to economic cellphones, compared to more expensive laptop options.” It is expected that mobile use would become more prevalent than desktop usage worldwide as developing countries have easier access to mobile devices than desktop computers. 

Desktop Marketing is not Dead

Christina Aguilera on a white desktop computer having a smug look on her face after clicking the left mouse button.
Desktop is certainly not dead. Many users still prefer to use desktops to complete their purchases online as it offers a sense of security and visibility to shoppers. 

Since 2019, many of us have been in the “mobile-first index” mindset, but that doesn’t mean we should necessarily place mobile marketing initiatives above desktop. While mobile marketing has become an effective way to connect with consumers, specifically in the e-commerce space, desktop marketing still has some distinct advantages. 

The size of a mobile phone screen places some limits on what you can do. When it comes to ad creative resolution, a large desktop display gives your business the chance to shine. The relationship between paid advertising and creative design has become increasingly important. You have to make sure that your creative speaks to ad intent, and ad capabilities speak to creative intent. To do so, make sure your ad creative is refreshed. “Refreshing ad creative helps to prevent your businesses’ ads from getting stale among consumers. If a consumer comes across the same ad too many times, they hit a point where they’ll scroll past it without absorbing your message,” says April Oswald, an Advertising and Search specialist at Rebel. “In addition to the look of the ad creative, it’s important to make sure that your ads are sized properly as creative can have an impact on your ad performance.” April also suggests making sure ads are relevant, engaging and high-resolution in order to captivate your audience. Using multiple ad sizes also helps to diversify the inventory your ads can appear in which can increase your overall reach and performance.

This will help you get your message across in a frame and resolution that can serve up beautifully to consumers. Take the opportunity to flesh out your message and show everything your company offers.

In 2020, 53% of online shopping traffic came from mobile devices vs. desktop computers, while desktop users still accounted for 56% of all e-commerce revenue. This leads us to believe that while people enjoy browsing on their mobile device, when it’s time to make a purchase, consumers would still rather complete this action on a desktop. 

Digital Marketing Strategies

It’s not really a fight between mobile and desktop. Most consumers are now practicing “multiscreening” across their different devices, explains Danyl Bosomworth for Smart Insights. You’ll want to make sure that your content remains the same on both your mobile and desktop site, even if they’re displayed or designed differently for user experience. Digital marketers should initiate quality testing across devices to make sure the experiences between them are cohesive.

Your business should utilize both desktop and mobile marketing. Run campaigns and see what the data tells you about your target audience and make campaign optimizations based on your consumer behavior. By focusing on both, you can capture consumers wherever they are active. This way, you can create an effective mix of engagement and selling. 

More specific attention and targeting depends on the business, and Rebel is here to help distribute that attention with top-notch digital marketing efforts. For more information, or if you need help with your marketing strategy, contact us today. It’s our job to keep an eye on mobile trends and keep up with your consumers and their changing habits.