How important is the mobile experience? With 91% of users reporting that they always have their smart phone within easy reach, spending an average of 3.5 hours/day on their devices, it’s difficult to overstate just how critical the mobile experience is.
And yet, despite its ubiquity, smartphone users are a unique challenge for marketers.
- They convert at lower rate than desktop.
- They spend less time than desktop users.
- They are frequently looking at their phones while in-store.
So, while they represent more than half of website traffic for most marketers, they tend to convert at lower rates and buy smaller. Ouch.
But take heart, marketers. While mobile purchasers tend to buy lower-price-point items, they will be back: Kellogg School of Management research found that while they spend less per purchase, they come back more frequently, and multiple brand interactions leads to more sales in the long-term.
So let’s start by assuming you have the basics: a fast, mobile-responsive website that you drive traffic to using a variety of media and then retarget those visitors to secure as many conversions as possible. Off to a good start. So what’s next?
From a practical perspective, as marketers, we have less of their time, and fewer square inches to carefully craft the customer experience. It’s a familiar refrain, but it is truer for handheld devices than any other channel.
The key is to look at what the data tells us about the mobile user experience via search query and purchases, to make judicious use of the time and space we have. Simple, right? Start with these three things:
1. Compare Purchasing Habits of Mobile Users to Desktop
Smartphone users tend to use the phone as a shopping assistant, turning to their devices for a quick-hit of information: They look for star ratings/reviews, search for a discount, watch a demo video, and compare specs.
So, if that’s the behavior, what can marketers do about it? Look for the types of products that are purchased at a higher rate on mobile as opposed to desktop. If you follow a typical pattern, these will tend to be smaller, familiar, easy to understand items with a shorter lifecycle, and you should deliver that content on the page, depending on which device type is detected.
It also means that mobile is not the ideal platform for new product introductions. While that is a huge motivator for customers in other channels, mobile typically isn’t the ideal place for it.
These products should be offered with comparative tools, like visible star ratings, customer reviews in easy reach, and demo videos to turn consideration into purchase or, alternately, give them the info they need to make the purchase later on desktop.
Again, turn to your analytics to see what pages or sections your mobile shoppers hit most frequently, and then present that in the mobile experience, carving away the extraneous information to tip them from “quick research” to “Add to Cart.”
You can also use this intelligence to make your mobile PPC campaign budgets smarter, using this data to segment a mobile-only campaign and allocate funds toward those popular mobile products.
2. Use Search Data to Engage and Interact With the Customer Like Never Before
Look to your search terms to glean common questions that mobile users have, develop content around them, and prioritize the content for the mobile experience. This content will be multi-purpose, finding a place on product pages to help answer questions, but also will be useful for social applications and to craft video for pre-roll advertising.
Use the search terms to drive storytelling and content creation for social media and other channels. In this way, we can use data to serve, engage, and shape the customer experience like never before.
It’s also important not to overlook voice-activated searches. AI digital assistants, like Siri (iOS) and Google Assistant (Android), mean that today, about 40% of all searches happen through a voice recognition experience.
While Google Analytics doesn’t yet have a data filter to allow us to isolate these voice searches, we can look for their key traits: long-tail searches, performed using natural language. These queries are a great foundation to create targeted SEO content optimized to be featured snippets. This type of content is like catnip for voice search results, guiding new potential customers to your site.
3. Take Full Advantage of Emerging Technology
Two important technologies that could give the mobile experience an edge over desktop in the future are location-based tracking and augmented reality (AR).
Beacon, meaning Bluetooth-based location tracking, was first introduced by Apple in 2013 and Google in 2015. And while it didn’t initially live up to the overblown hype, the increasing use of in-store apps in big retailers like Target, Sephora, and Macy’s has made it relevant again. Those with a proprietary app can use it to deliver extremely targeted, location-triggered notifications and offers to customers.
Those without proprietary apps can still benefit from location data in the form of enhanced PPC tracking. Google Ads now has an in-store conversion metric, so they can detect a conversion driven by PPC, even if it didn’t happen online, allowing retailers to better map customer journeys, from search query to physical store.
AR has been around for a while, but it’s gaining in credibility via some big-name adopters (IKEA, Houzz) and overcoming some early obstacles with a streamlined path to app launch.
It’s especially relevant for products, like personal items, décor, and furniture, using a CAD model to project an image of the product, and allowing the retailer to bring the customer experience right into the mobile user’s physical space. It also has the ability to incorporate the mobile website’s product page, video, or calls to action in the mobile window.
We’ve grown accustomed to mobile conversion rates lagging behind desktop and, in some ways, we marketers accept it as an inevitability. But with emerging technologies, and the ability to personalize and target like never before, we think we should set our sights higher. Let’s dare to dream that we can use data to create a mobile user experience that crosses the hurdle that few have been able to surmount: a mobile experience that is so easy, engaging, and cool that it pushes people to “Buy Now.”