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In part one of this series, we examined ways for marketers to deliver a relevant browsing experience to users visiting their websites from mobile devices. With recent data indicating that 20% of all mobile phone owners made a purchase using their phone in 2011, there’s an obvious need to effectively reach consumers on mobile devices.
And with mobile web usage expected to surpass desktop web by 2015, delivering a seamless and relevant mobile experience will only grow in importance.
Unlike traditional desktop web browsing, where online brands have the full attention of their customers, mobile users are often distracted while engaging with you on their smartphone. But they also may be looking for that perfect pair of shoes.
How can you tell, and most importantly, use what you know about the mobile visitor to increase their likelihood of converting?
Usable vs. Useful
There is a clear difference between mobile sites that are usable, and those that are useful. Usable sites may load fast, have easy navigation, and a clear hero image that fits nicely on the page, but developing useful mobile pages that take advantage of the user’s location and provide immediately actionable information are more effective.
Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you also can’t judge a customer by their device. Mobile adds valuable texture to the universal truths of how landing pages convert, and in order to improve mobile conversions, marketers have to take advantage of everything they know about their customers. The fundamentals of making pages usable matter more on mobile than they ever did before, and a generic landing page that ignores its users and their context will most likely be useless.
Why is this important? As we previously discussed, mobile users may be browsing your mobile site in a store, on a train, or at a restaurant to kill time while waiting for their date to arrive. It is very important for this context you know about the user to factor into your overall mobile design and user experience.
Understanding the location of the consumer when they are engaging with your brand from a mobile device presents a big advantage for marketers.
For example, many shoppers frequently use their mobile devices during the in-store browsing and purchasing processes. Given this common behavior, it’s marketers must make it easier for in-store shoppers to find the information they’re looking for. One way is to allow shoppers to scan barcodes with their phones and find reviews, ratings, and other information without having to search around the mobile site. According to the National Retail Federation’s Mobile Retailing Blueprint, making it easier for mobile shoppers to make an informed decision can help close the sale faster.
Perhaps more interesting than the user’s actual geography, however, is their proximal geography, meaning how close they are to something. One of the blessings smartphones present to marketers is that you know exactly where the user is with greater accuracy than the traditional way of identifying location based on an IP address.
Did the user arrive at your mobile landing page from a geo-targeted AdWords campaign? Are they near your competitor’s store? Are they near your store? If so, give them a targeted offer to purchase from your store to discourage them from hopping over to Amazon to buy a similar product.
The Right Technographics
Mobile screen real estate is precious, and every inch represents selling space just like floor space in a store. To improve your likelihood of converting, you better use that real estate effectively.
Another important variable to consider when optimizing mobile landing pages is connection speed. We all know that the length of time it takes for a page to load has a direct correlation on its effectiveness to convert. So focusing on whether a user is browsing from an iPhone or Android device is less important than knowing whether the user is in their living room with a strong Wi-Fi connection or on a plane using a 3G signal, where the page will take up to 10 times longer to load.
In order to convert more effectively, use what you know about the user’s connection speed to progressively disclose content so headlines and the above the fold image are the first things to load and additional supporting information loads later.
Beyond the Landing Page
The most important question to ask about a mobile landing page is: Does it actually address the needs of your users? And since conversion doesn’t happen on the landing page alone, you need to help distracted mobile users stay focused throughout the entire session.
If a customer finds that other pages on your website are loading too slow, they will look elsewhere and all your hard work to optimize the landing page will be lost. Mobile users are distracted and have limited time to complete a task, which is why you have to make their shopping experience as seamless and efficient as possible.
If the user session doesn’t end with a conversion on the landing page, maintain consistency in terms of the user experience and your offers throughout. Make sure that the offer the customer received in an email or paid search ad is consistent from page to page and don’t include links to non-mobile optimized pages.
And whatever you do, if you’re selling the user something, don’t send them to your shopping cart that’s not mobile optimized and be surprised when they don’t convert.
The Bottom Line: Test
The evidence clearly shows that consumers are using their mobile devices to access your website. However, mobile optimization now is comparable to space flight in the 1950s. While we may know the basic rules, this is all very new and nobody has enough real-world experience to make universal statements at this point.
The only way to learn what works best for your brand is by constantly testing. Blaze some trails within your organization, challenge assumptions, and realize that you may discover something new by testing.
The more you test, the more you learn. And the more you learn the more you will earn.
Bruce Ernst is VP of Product Management at Monetate and a guest blogger on Econsultancy.
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