On Thanksgiving Day 2014, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time with 52.1 percent of all online traffic coming from smartphones and tablets, according to IBM. Additionally, close to 28 percent of all online sales came from mobile devices, an increase of 28.2 percent compared to 2013.
The click behavior and checkout expectations of mobile shoppers differs significantly from desktop shoppers. To stay ahead of the curve and maximize conversion rates for the long-run, websites must not only have a dedicated mobile version or responsive layout but also be optimized for mobile conversions.
Here is a list of 10 changes that should instantly increase mobile conversion rates.
1. Quicker mobile checkout.
People don’t like to go through big forms and fill in a lot of information. Your mobile website is much more likely to convert if you keep your form simple and allow guest checkouts as well as 1-click checkouts for return customers. Instead of making a mobile version of the regular checkout process, design mobile checkout pages based on the quickest possible solution that only requires rudimentary information.
Little things like suggesting the address with a Google Maps plugin while customers are filling in the shipping information as well as a visual calendar instead of numeric dates make the checkout experience more intuitive and avoid abandoned shopping carts.
If you have a small e-commerce site that processes payments with PayPal, also consider using Amazon Payments which allows customers to login with Amazon and pay with Amazon while never navigating away from your website. It costs about the same and has a stellar 1-click mobile checkout process.
2. Offer the opportunity to change device.
Some people are mobile browsers and desktop shoppers. Instead of missing out on this relatively large chunk of potential customers, give them what they want and ask them if they would like to get the shopping cart or website in an email so they can start where they left of later today and from any device.
A common mistake is to only insert an “email shopping cart” button and leave it at that. Not only is it recommendable to suggest to email it but the reason for emailing it should be mentioned also. Examples could be to buy it after work or to discuss it with the spouse or to buy it from desktop or to share it with a friend - the possibilities are endless.
As mentioned in the Google Mobile Playbook, a whopping 68 percent of mobile searches actually occur at home where there are other, larger-screen devices available. This means that if people want to continue the shopping experience on a desktop device, they could do it right away if the website made it easy for them to do so.
3. Include only the most relevant content.
While some swear by providing as much content as possible, the opposite is true for mobile. The general rule for smartphones and tablets is the more content, the fewer sales.
Instead of simply reducing the content, the layout needs to be adapted also so that the most important information is visible above the fold. The fold is an imaginary line at the bottom of the page the website visitor sees without scrolling. Anything below the fold is only visible with scrolling. Most responsive layouts and mobile sites often take up all the space above the fold to show the product image and neglect to show highly relevant information such as price and main features above the fold also.
Instead of converting the horizontal layout to a vertical layout and listing all content below each other, allow users to scroll just enough to learn more about the product without giving the impression of an endless scroll. If creating different content on the mobile site is not in the budget, make sure to insert a button on the bottom right that allows mobile users to go back to the top of the page instantly.
Another effective way to provide more information without scrolling too much is to use videos. One out of 4 mobile users consume videos daily and they can be the ideal substitute for 3D product images.
4. Improve cross-channel tracking.
Often times, people calculate the ROI of a mobile website based on the leads or sales that are directly generated via a mobile device. There is a large portion of traffic that will end up converting later on with a phone call, an email or even a store visit.
Even though the effect of mobile traffic on non-mobile conversions is relatively difficult to track, it is not impossible. Cross-channel tracking can be done with a simple question where customers first heard about you, by using a Google forwarding number, a printable coupon that can be used in stores and many more options.
For retailers with e-commerce websites, the most important question when starting cross-channel tracking is to find out where people get in touch first. The marketing strategy of a mobile browser that buys in-store is completely different from window shoppers that buy online. To be able to make this distinction can significantly boost revenues.
5. Limit the number of images.
The faster your website loads, the better. A vast amount of images slows down the website and does not exactly contribute to a great shopping experience. Images on smartphones and tablets should generally have smaller sizes and should be adapted to the respective screen size.
The rule of thumb for images in e-commerce is to have 5 product photos. If for whatever reason that slows down the website already, consider showing only one featured image on the main product page for mobile devices and offer more photos on a second page.
In general, the number of clicks on mobile should be minimized so it is ideal to find a way to load the website within less than 3 seconds without having to insert a second page for more photos.
6. Smoother navigation with increased spaces.
Buttons, links and anything else that is clickable should be placed at a distinct distance from each other on mobile websites to avoid involuntary clicks. Additionally, the content should not exactly match the screen but leave a blank border between the content and the outer border of the screen to improve scrolling and make the layout easier on the eye.
Drop-off rates, meaning the percentage of people that navigate away from the website, can be reduced significantly by respecting these rules.
7. Optimize filters.
Generally speaking, the options to sort and filter increase with the variety of merchandise.
Finding an effective and fast way to help customers find the right products with smartphones and tablets can be especially challenging for large e-commerce websites that sell electronics as well as furniture, clothes and beauty supplies for instance.
Ideally, customers should be able to narrow down the list of products with 4 clicks or less. Interestingly, sliders are not perceived the same way as clicks and can replace price filters for instance. Icons should be used as much as possible for color choices as well as popular brands.
8. Visible click-to-call button.
If phone calls convert better than mobile traffic, be sure to make calling not only easy but the obvious choice for any website visitor. Click-to-call buttons are specifically designed to dial and call the number that is clicked with a smartphone. More often than not, this is the only way to convert mobile traffic into phone leads.
Imagine yourself trying to highlight, copy and paste a phone number or frantically looking for a pen and paper to write it down somewhere before finally making a phone call. Even in the best mood, chances are you will not make that call.
9. No pop-up banners.
Pop-up banners are one of the biggest conversion rate killers a mobile site can have. Not only is it difficult to skip but it interrupts the thought process of a potential buyer. The mobile shopping experience should be as fast as possible. Any additional click or distraction lowers the conversion rate and dramatically increases the drop-off rate.
Any ecommerce website should create a sense of urgency at some point during the shopping experience. Instead of using the same one-trick pony on all devices, let users know that you are aware they are using a smartphone or tablet and offer them something that is meant for mobile shoppers only.
Typical ideas are get two-for-one, 10 percent off on the second item and free shipping. The strategy behind it is to find out exactly when mobile shoppers fall out of the sales funnel and target them with a tempting offer they cannot refuse. To maximize conversions, also consider offering them something if they put something in the shopping cart and checkout with any device within the next 24 hours. In the end, the overall financial health of the company is more important than the number of mobile conversions.