5.1 billion human beings owned a smart phone as of early 2012.
4.2 billion human beings own a toothbrush.
We live in the technology era, where people have smartphones, tablets, laptops and e-readers so they can stay plugged in constantly. Our cars, gaming systems, and even televisions now have Internet capabilities. Many restaurants offer complimentary wireless in their dining areas. It seems our incessant need to be online has trumped a lot of our other needs – even our need for personal hygiene.
That’s gross from a normal standpoint, but fascinating from a marketing perspective.
Smartphones and tablets have given us this brand new opportunity to shop in the convenience of our own homes. Many people are taking advantage of this opportunity and opting out of the traditional in-store shopping experience for a mobile one.
As a result, these devices have given marketers a brand new opportunity to reach our customers. Since your audience is transitioning from your physical store to your mobile one, you need to make sure their mobile experience with you is as compelling as possible.
Site owners, marketers, and SEOs need to understand current mobile trends and make sure they can optimize their mobile sites in order to drive mobile conversions.
Thankfully, there is a lot of great research out there on mobile data and online consumer behavior. I’ll reference the Pew Research Center, New York Times, eMarketer and Siteworx, but there are dozens of other companies that analyze mobile statistics and trends. Knowing this kind of information will help you make informed decisions to guide your mobile strategy.
According to the PewResearch Internet Project, as of January 2014:
- 91% of American adults have a cell phone.
- 55% of American adults have a smart phone.
- 32% of American adults own an e-reader.
- 42% of American adults own a tablet.
- 44% of cell owners sleep with their phones next to their bed
It seems like people NEED their smartphones. In fact, 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without”.
Cell owners use their phones to surf the internet, make phone calls, send text messages, check their e-mail, and download apps. And, increasingly to shop.
The New York Times states that, in 2012, people spent $25 billion from their phones and tablets, an 81% increase from 2011. That’s only 11% of all e-commerce, but eMarketer (a research company that compiles commerce data) predicts that mobile will account for a quarter of all online sales by 2016.
One of the easiest times to see the impact of mobile shopping is Black Friday. According to Siteworx’s 2014 State of Mobile Features & Functionality Report, thousands of people choose to do their holiday shopping from home instead of shopping in stores. Last year, 40% of Black Friday traffic and 1/3 of Cyber Monday traffic was online. That number is up from the 4% Cyber Monday online traffic in 2010 – a 33% increase in just 3 years.
And shoppers spent a surprising amount using their devices – an average $329 order on tablets and $250 from smartphones. These are some serious conversions we’re talking about.
But keep in mind – people don’t have to purchase online to shop online.
Even those who choose to venture out into the Black Friday chaos are still using their mobile devices before they go to your store. 60.7% of people use smartphones to find out store hours, locations, contact information, and directions, while 56.1% use tablets for product research before they head out.
People are also using their devices while they shop in stores. 21.7% price-match in stores with their phones/tablets and 36.1% check product reviews on their devices before making a purchase.
Mobile obviously plays a big role in your consumers’ lives. People find, review, and purchase from mobile every day. Therefore, mobile needs to play a big role in your outreach strategy as well.
7 Tips to Optimize Your Mobile Site
The top priority for mobile must be to provide a compelling user experience.
The most important thing to remember is obvious, yet easily overlooked: mobile sites are for mobile users. When someone is on the move, they’re looking for a completely different experience compared to a standard site.
For example, mobile visitors typically want to see some key information without having to search too hard, including store directions, a clickable phone number, or store hours by day.
What they don’t care about are staff bios, mission statements, or news stories.
Keeping the mobile user in mind, let’s take a look at the 7 best practices for mobile website design that can help you maximize your mobile conversions.
Business writer Jeff Haden says in his article, “8 Simple Tips to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly,” that the first step in creating any site is determining your content. Most mobile users won’t browse for more than a few minutes. If they can’t find the specific information they’re looking for, they’ll be quick to leave and look at another site.
Given the restricted screen size, it’s important to decide what key information your visitors will be looking for. These pieces are called your critical needs, and your home-page content should only include this absolutely essential information.
2. Plan Your Site Layout
Once you know your content, you next need to determine how best to structure it. Unfortunately, this can be a huge task to shoulder. You have to design separately for tablets and smartphones, but both come in a variety of different screen sizes and resolutions.
Therefore, responsive web design could be the best solution. Instead of creating one simple mobile template, you can design a site layout that is flexible enough to fit any possible screen.
“Responsive” web design means that the entire layout responds based on the user’s screen resolution. A responsive layout will gracefully break down and reinvent itself to meet the screen requirements.
This is an excellent technique for usability because it creates a uniform experience, regardless of browser or screen size.
You can read more about some responsive web layout tips from Hongkiat.
You’ll want to consider loading time when planning your responsive site layout. Remember that mobile web pages load slower than desktop web pages, so you’ll want fewer pages with low bandwidth content. Also, users aren’t patient enough to go several pages deep into a mobile site, so it’s important to organize your information as simply as possible.
3. Incorporate Branding Elements
As Mobile Marketer points out, mobile is an excellent venue for extending your branding efforts. Even though your mobile site will be a lot more simplified, you’ll still want to incorporate the same branding elements that you have on your traditional site. According to Social Media Examiner, this is important for two reasons:
- A mobile site is a brand touchpoint where customers interact with you, and like any other touchpoint, it should reflect and promote your brand’s essence.
- Incorporating a similar design on your mobile site will make users who are already familiar with your company feel like they’re visiting an old friend, which is an important consideration for your most loyal customers.
4. Utilize Your White Space
It’s natural to want to include as much information on your website as possible. However, you need to resist the temptation, especially with your mobile site.
Blue Fountain Media says that lack of white space is one of the primary reasons why mobile websites can fail. Unfortunately, many designers try to ensure that mobile users receive the same functionality and design experience that they would on the desktop site. The problem is that mobile users aren’t looking for the same experience; in fact, they demand an exceptional one with convenient on-the-go speeds.
One way to ensure you meet these standards is by incorporating adequate white space into your design. The space between elements is extremely important, and as Blue Fountain Media states, “understanding when to be understated is often the difference between success and failure.”
White space provides a cleaner, more sophisticated appearance. By replacing banners, pictures and videos with white space, you’re also keeping the page moving. Finally, white space ensures that users can easily click on the buttons they’re aiming for – and that’s how they convert.
5. Reduce the Need for Text Entry
Most people have a hard time typing on a small keyboard. Nothing is more frustrating than typing the wrong letters and you don’t want people to associate your brand with being annoyed.
According to CMS Wire, there are a few ways around the issue of text. When possible, replace text entry fields with dropdown menus and pre-populated fields to enter information. You could also give registered users the option to re-use their stored details when they make purchases, or offer an option to enter a PIN as opposed to a password.
Some more innovative strategies for minimizing text entry are incorporating QR codes and allowing users to instantly make calls when they click on your phone number.
These tactics help minimize the challenges that people face when typing text into a smart phone.
6. Use Mobile Redirects
Once you’ve designed your site, make sure to use mobile redirects before you launch. These will detect when a visitor is mobile and direct him or her to your mobile-optimized site. With redirects, any mobile user who goes to your URL will automatically be directed to your mobile site.
7. Include Links to Your Full Site
While the rule of thumb is that less is more for mobile, there will still be some mobile users who are looking for information that you’ve deemed non-essential for your mobile site.
Smashing Magazine says it’s a good idea to cross-link – include a link to the mobile site from your regular site, and a vice versa. That way, you’ll allow users to go find the version of the site that best accommodates their needs.
Mobile shopping is a relatively new trend, but it seems it’s here to stay. More people than ever are opting out of the traditional in-store buying experience for the convenience of shopping from home. Even those who do shop in stores are using their phones to reference customer reviews, product ratings, price matches, and other important information that influences their purchasing decisions.
Mobile isn’t going anywhere, so you need to get on the bandwagon. If you don’t optimize your site for mobile users, you risk losing them as customers.
Optimizing your website for mobile can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By familiarizing yourself with the current market trends and best practices for mobile, you can create an awesome mobile site that will please your customers and fuel your conversions.
Who knows? Maybe we can even sell toothbrushes on mobile.