5 Dynamics That Kill Your Mobile Conversions

Mobile conversions should be happening all day. It’s not a stretch to say that we are slaves to those little rectangular pieces of technology we carry in our pockets 24×7. The smartphone has come to define every aspect of our lives, from waking up each morning to getting to work on time and from finding a quick bite to eat to even finding true love.

Mobile conversions should be happening all day. It’s not a stretch to say that we are slaves to those little rectangular pieces of technology we carry in our pockets 24×7. The smartphone has come to define every aspect of our lives, from waking up each morning to getting to work on time and from finding a quick bite to eat to even finding true love.

If mobile phones are so central to our existence, why do businesses repeatedly find the old faithful — desktop computers — to be better performers in terms of conversions and sales?

A SaleCycle study of 500 global brands showed that while 51% of traffic came from mobile devices, only 36% of total sales followed suit.

mobile conversions
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

What makes mobile conversions lag behind their desktop counterparts, given that we lead our lives almost entirely inside these metal and glass cages? More importantly, what can you, as a marketer or business owner, do to improve your mobile conversions? Here are some worrying mobile optimization snags that might be seriously hurting your sales.

Mobile Site Speed Isn’t Priority No. 1

Earlier this year, Google made it official: Mobile speed is a bona fide ranking factor for all websites in its search results. Period.

And oh, if you haven’t realized it yet, Google now prioritizes your mobile site over the desktop version while adding your pages to its index.

You may not care about your SEO rankings (really?) but a quick-loading mobile page has other proven benefits — such as increased engagement and, by extension, better conversions. Mobile web design platform Duda carried out a study involving over 4,000 sites, which found that mobile sites with a render start time (RST) under one second showed a 50% higher conversion rate than those with RSTs of three to four seconds.

mobile conversions related to site speed
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

All of this data conclusively means just one thing: If you want to maximize sales, you must make sure your site loads blazingly fast on mobile devices. Try these guidelines:

  • Optimize images to render faster. Drop animations and other frills that eat up bandwidth.
  • Avoid auto-playing videos on mobile sites.
  • Keep the number of scripts to a minimum and make sure they’re parsed faster.
  • Reduce advertising clutter that slows pages down.
  • Use compression, CDNs and other web technologies that quicken loading times.
  • Leverage Google AMP for a huge jump in page loading speed.

Mobile Site Not Optimized for Local Search

Here are some data points from the Mobile and Search channels of Google’s Micro-Moments resource base. Chew on these stats for a moment (each):

  • 40% of all searches from mobile devices have local intent.
  • 76% of local searches result in a visit to the physical outlet of a business within 24 hours. 28% result in a purchase.
  • People who perform local searches on mobile devices are 65% more likely to buy from companies that customize their mobile sites or apps with local information.

In other words, most smartphone users use local search with purchase intent and heavily patronize businesses that help them find information they’re looking for right there on their phones. Don’t miss out on this opportunity that comes knocking on your mobile website’s window every single day.

A quick checklist to rank well (and convert well!) on local mobile searches:

  • Build content-rich city pages for the markets you operate in. Create dedicated content relevant to each city. e.g. A music store may have content like the “The 10 best nightclubs in Miami” or “Who’s playing at Madison Square Garden this week.”
  • Set up your Google My Business page and keep it updated.
  • Get pinpoint accuracy in your N-A-P (name, address, phone number) data in local business directories.
  • Go socially local with your Facebook business pages.
  • Work on getting local reviews for your brand and business from influencers, niche-focused review sites and crowdsourced review forums.

No Attention Paid to Mobile Design and Usability

User experience is one of the key elements of conversion optimization. This could not be truer on a smartphone screen, where real estate is at such a premium.

For the record, that’s not me saying this; it’s data. Here’s a snapshot from a Qubit study (Opens as a PDF) of 1.2 billion e-commerce journeys with mobile touchpoints:

mobile conversions chart
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

When every pixel counts, are you doing what it takes to convert users?

UX designer Chen Ben Ami offers some practical ideas on mobile optimization, like keeping buttons larger on mobile sites to preempt “Fat Finger Syndrome,” keeping navigation simple, using the right color combinations (visible on mobile screens) for backgrounds and layouts, leveraging the “Click to Call” button and so on.

But my favorite piece of advice is this real gem, which recommends taking a hard look at how your mobile site appears at different times of day. For example, when a user visits your mobile site during the day, they can reach you with a single tap. However, what happens when they visit your site after hours?

Instead of wasting a click and having the customer listen to an out of office message, you could offer a contact form in place of the click-to-call for the “night version” of your mobile site!

mobile conversions phone graphic
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

Shopping Carts Not Persistent, Not Cross-Platform

The Qubit study we referred to earlier also found that mobile shopping experience and browsing behavior has a direct impact on actual revenue from cross-channel sales on other digital channels. Further, mobile shopping activity also led to a 19% growth in desktop revenues.

What this means is that users who discover an item on mobile tend to either visit the store or complete the purchase on desktop devices. This process of device hopping to complete a single transaction would be greatly eased out if the site in question saved the user’s shopping cart for a future session on the same or another platform. Say “hello” to cross-channel shopping carts!

A simple way to enable cross-channel shopping carts would be using the customer’s login information, which stays the same across devices. Another way of offering an omnichannel shopping experience is by linking cookies and device IDs, or setting up user identification and tracking using tech such as Google Analytics User-IDs across multiple devices.

Painful Checkout Process

Have an e-commerce site? Pay special attention to your forms and checkout process in particular to nudge along mobile conversions. Research from comScore found that close to 20% of users don’t make a purchase on mobile because they find it too difficult to enter data into forms on smartphones.

mobile conversions clock chart
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

Ease the way for your mobile users by keeping forms short and requiring minimal details from users. Adopting autocomplete and auto-suggestions in forms and search bars are examples of usability-driven design on mobile commerce sites and apps.

Another effective way of reducing clicks and smoothing out the mobile checkout process is by embracing simpler payment options, like mobile wallets. After all, what’s easier on a smartphone — paying with one-click using Apple Pay or Google Pay or entering a 14-digit credit card number, expiration date and CVV number?

Parting Thoughts

Fifty-three percent of users on the web today access it via a mobile phone. Just as mobile usage is rising, so is actual transaction activity. As data clearly shows, this trend of consumers going mobile first is only going to get stronger. So instead of spending time retrofitting your websites to mobile in order to improve conversions, learn from these and other mobile-focused factors to build a true mobile-fantastic (not just mobile-friendly) website that encourages engagement and sales, and takes your business headfirst into the next decade.

Mobile Site Speed Google’s Priority for Indexing

Mobile site speed is Google’s priority now for rating sites. The search giant made the move to mobile-first indexing in March, after giving site owners about 18 months to prepare for the switch.

Mobile site speed is Google’s priority now for rating sites. The search giant made the move to mobile-first indexing in March, after giving site owners about 18 months to prepare for the switch.

Savvy site owners did not wait for the mobile site speed change to happen before optimizing to meet this new emphasis. With mobile indexing, Google uses the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking.

Gone are the days of weak, thin mobile presentations. This gives searchers, who now predominantly use mobile devices, a better user experience. To further benefit this huge user base, Google announced in January in the Webmaster Central Blog that in July of 2018 slow-loading content wouldn’t perform as well for both desktop and mobile searchers.

As the calendar slips over to July, a new study by Searchmetrics shows that site owners have heeded the warnings. The results are in already, and if your site is not speed-ready, you are already being left at the starting line in the race for top rankings.

What Makes a Rankings Winner in the Mobile Indexing Era?

The answer is simple: Speed.

Mobile users want their information delivered instantly, and Google seeks to maximize user satisfaction by ranking the faster pages first in the results. The Searchmetics study clearly shows that the race for rankings is already being won by the fastest sites. Although the study is loaded with useful and interesting insights, the two biggest takeaways are:

  1. For pages ranking in Positions 1 to 5 in the search results, pages load faster with each improvement in ranking position.
  2. Mobile pages ranking in Positions 1 to 5 load faster than those ranking from six to 15.

Site speed is hard to define; and over the years, I have personally had numerous disagreements with site owners on just how fast, or usually slow, their sites are.

In a word, if you are looking at speed as an SEO ranking factor, which it clearly is, employ the tools and methodology that will be used in ranking your site. In my practice, I have used a variety of tools over time. My current favorites are Google Lighthouse and Page Speed Insights. My logic has always been that if Google is measuring my site speed, then let’s see if I can mirror its results so that any improvements are framed in its context.

The Searchmetrics study indicates that pages must load in under 2 seconds. Although the mobile site speed results varied somewhat by industry segment, the rule of thumb coming out of this study is as follows: Forget about making incremental changes. Unless you can come within the 2-second limits, you will not break into the top five. The top five results are faster than six to 15.

What About AMP?

The use of AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is growing. These pages typically mirror the desktop pages. The study found that across all industries, AMP pages were found on the first results pages for three out of five (61%) keywords. AMP is most common in media (87% of keywords), the first adopters.

AMP is also now found on more than half of SERPs in finance, e-commerce and travel. E-commerce pages lag just a tiny bit in speed. This is expected, given the heavy use of scripting needed to present all of the bells and whistles buyers expect to find in a commerce site; however, this is no excuse for not striving to achieve the speed needed for top rankings.

Although speed has only just officially become a ranking factor in July, the race is well underway and winners are already lining up for their rewards.