Mobile accounts for one third of global web traffic (ClickZ). Mobile device usage has now surpassed desktop usage, 51% compared to desktop (42%), according to recent reports.
Unfortunately, mobile conversion rates still lag far behind desktop and tablet users. Your website analytics may indicate that conversions from mobile devices are lackluster and this is a problem.
More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan. (Google)
Mobile conversion rates are still lower than tablets and desktops, but this is where exponential growth will occur within the next few years. (Smart Insights)
Mobile now accounts for 50.3% of all ecommerce traffic; “(40.3% from mobile phones, 10% from tablets) and just 49.7% from [desktop] computers.” (Shopify)
Given the changing technology landscape and consumer behavior, it is surprising that 45% of companies still did not have sites that were optimized for mobile devices, according to reports from Adobe.
When you look at conversion rates by device it sheds light on the full mobile picture.
Tablets are right “up there” with desktops, because analytics tell us that they are used a great deal at home in the evenings for virtually all purposes, and the screen is larger than a phone. They are more convenient than PC’s because one can move easily about, but the environment is much the same as that of a desktop user – quieter, with fewer distractions – allowing the user to navigate more.
Phones, on the other hand, are not in what we would call a “controlled” environment. They are used on busses, subways, in airports, on busy noisy streets. Mobile phone users have to work quickly, find what they need quickly, before another distraction comes along, and complete tasks quickly.
Mobile Times They Are A-Changin’
All of the above trends were shared with web designers several years ago. This led to an industry shift where websites would have to be adapted for smaller screens. So, they set about to do just that with what we now know as responsive web design, or RWD.
Essentially, the idea was to take website content and make it “fit” into a smaller screen, without changing the content itself very much. Happy dance! – Not so fast.
Conversion rates remained pretty flat. Why?
Because responsive design was focused on the website and not on the user. For the mobile user, particularly the mobile smartphone user, the site is too cluttered, and there is too much content to wade through in a short amount of time. And speaking of short amount of time; large files designed for a PC take too long to load – thus bounce rates soar.
The other issue with a responsive web design only approach is that, because Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter are all going “mobile first,” when content is not specifically designed with mobile in mind, user experience (UX) will be poor and SEO rankings will fall. Again, it’s all about the user, not just your website.
What It Means To Be ‘Mobile First’
A “mobile first” strategy says that one has to work backwards when designing a website. Begin with mobile design first, focusing on those user needs. Keep your brand image, colors, and key phrases the same across all platforms, of course, but give the mobile customer fewer tasks, and make the site load really fast. As one restaurateur stated:
“Mobile users want to see our menu, hours, and delivery number. Desktop users definitely want this 1mb png of someone smiling at a salad.”
— Mat Marquis (@wilto) April 27, 2011
Then, you can add features, more media, more pages, and more content as you move up the ladder to tablets and then to desktops.
Take a look at the latest Southwest airline design, for example, viewed on the desktop versus a mobile phone.
Boost Mobile Conversions With These Tips
Sometimes, it is called personalization; others call it “smart” content. We have all experienced it. When we buy something, or even just begin to search for a product, all of a sudden the ads on our Facebook home page, and on our Internet home page are all showing ads for the products we have searched.
Conversion efforts on mobile devices can be accomplished in similar ways.
Track a visitor, perhaps through Maxymiser, a cloud-based testing, personalization and cross-channel optimization solution for brands to boost engagement and revenue. Find out what content was accessed and when and then personalize content for that user.
Use analytics to gather aggregate data so you know where and when visitors are accessing specific content on their mobile devices. Then ensure the content they are accessing loads fast with optimal delivery.
Make it easy for mobile users to share their email address (if this is your conversion goal). Then they can, for example, get a coupon if they register with their email address.
Make sure your email blasts load easily and quickly – remember mobile users check email on their phones.
Adaptive content also needs to know when to change for individual users. If a current customer visits your site, what is their buying history? Where is that user right now in the access-to-purchase funnel?
As you can see, adaptive content is all about the user and the value you place on their experience. The more value you put mobile users first and deliver personalized, user-friendly and actionable content, the more they will return and want to do business with you.
Don’t Forget Mobile User Testing
Remember – it’s all about the end user! Every bit of content you place on your site should be tested. Figure out what tasks you want users to complete, and give testers access. Start A/B testing on conversion buttons and different presentations of text and media. Track the traffic and conversions carefully, and you will be able to continually improve the experience.
Change … it’s always upon us. Devices change; content must evolve. Increasing conversions is a never-ending activity of making your content the best it can be and making it really easy for people to do business with you!
This article has been edited and condensed.
John Unger is a Manchester, UK based blogger and writer. He covers a variety of personal development and marketing topics. View his latest content at Assignment Mountain. Connect with @johnunger and @assignment_m on Twitter.
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