Half of Mobile Searches for Food Turn into Sales

Mobile Searches for Food

For restaurant owners and managers, smartphones and tablets have created important avenues to market themselves to motivated purchasers. Roughly 50 percent of all mobile food searches result in a sale. That makes it essential that your website & social media campaigns stand out from the competition.

In recent years, study after study has confirmed the importance of mobile and the improved performance metrics of mobile vs. PC advertising. Now, newer studies reveal more insights into mobile consumer behavior.

One such study looks at the mobile path to purchase in three verticals -- Restaurants, Travel & Automotive -- and the differences between smartphone and tablet usage among US adults. It was commissioned by call-tracking provider Telmetrics and mobile ad network xAd. The research was based on “an online survey of 1,500 US smartphone and tablet users and actual observed consumer behaviors from Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6,000 Apple and Android users.”

Huge Conversions for Food, Autos & Travel

The three verticals examined in the study were Restaurants, Travel, and Automotive (including repairs and purchases). For all three verticals, half of the online searches eventually produced a sale.

There were other interesting findings, as well. Some of them are new and some confirm existing data. Here is a look at some of the more interesting findings:

Immediate Consumer Purchase Intent

The study reveals that consumer behaviors vary by device and by vertical. For Restaurants, the study found that 89 percent of smartphone owners and 84 percent of tablet users have immediate purchase intent and take action within 24 hours of their research. In the Travel and Autos categories, however, there was a more deferred purchase intent.

The study found that 33 percent of smartphone/tablet users in the Travel category “are looking to complete their transaction within the day.” In Autos, 49 percent of mobile users wanted to transact the same day. In both cases, regardless of the precise timing, roughly half of smartphone and tablet users (51 percent in Autos and 46 percent in Travel) did make a purchase. In the Restaurants category, a whopping 85 percent converted.

The “takeaway” is that half of tablet & smartphone users who conducted research on a mobile device ultimately made a purchase. This is a dramatic finding.

Importance of Local Ad Relevance

Another significant finding, which confirms IAB and other previous research, is that local relevance drives mobile ad response. Asked what variables or factors would cause them to respond to ads, mobile users shared the following:

  • Ads that are locally relevant to me: smartphone (73 percent) tablet (70 percent)
  • Ads that offer coupons/promotions: smartphone (72 percent) tablet (69 percent)
  • Ads from known brands: (59 percent) tablet (65 percent)

The study also found that 66 percent of mobile device owners noticed ads, while 33 percent clicked on mobile ads.

Major Difference in On-the-Go vs. Home Usage

Confirming the findings from lots of other surveys, most tablet usage happens at home (72 percent), while smartphone owners mostly use their devices “on the go” (68 percent). As the 7-inch tablet category continues to take hold, we may see some additional out-of-home tablet usage. But for now, tablets are mostly an at-home phenomenon.

Across the three verticals examined, “in the car” was the dominant single location for smartphone-based Restaurant and Autos searches. In Travel, users at home edged those in the car for the most popular usage location (37 percent vs. 28 percent). For smartphone owners, the two top usage locations are at home or in the car. Users on-the-go are often on their way to buy something and looking up information, which is partly why they convert so well.

Calls & Map Lookups

A common usage scenario for both smartphone and tablet owners is looking for business contact details and directions. The study found that 73 percent of mobile users had looked for a phone number and contacted a business within the past 30 days. In addition, 84 percent of mobile users had looked for a business location or maps and driving directions in the past month.

Finally, the study found different apps and sites were preferred in different verticals and by the device. According to the survey:

  • Smartphone users: Local directory apps are most popular for Restaurant and Automotive users (53 percent and 34 percent, respectively); branded websites are most popular for Travel users (47 percent)
  • Tablet users: Branded websites are the most popular in all categories (51 percent Restaurant, 56 percent Travel, and 48 percent Automotive)

If nothing else resonates, this study reinforces the notion that smartphone and tablet users are much more “ready to buy” than their PC counterparts. It also supports the finding that localized mobile ads are perceived by consumers as more relevant and drive responses better than ads without a location.