The Mobile Challenge – I Don’t Think You’re Ready Yet

At the end of this post I have a challenge or a free offer for you. If you don’t agree with the next statement I’d love to hear from you either directly or in the comments section.

You Most Likely Serve Mobile Users Worse Than Your Desktop Users

When I look at the analytics of most brands I find the same issue when it comes to mobile and tablet usage. We’re incredibly poor at recognising what people want when they use a phone as compared to using a desktop. We see desktop sites doing anywhere up to 10 times better than mobile when it comes to conversion. So by that I mean if your conversion rates from a phone is 0.5% it might be 5% on a desktop. Typically it’s at least 2 times better on the desktop.

This is the same with all kinds of site (not just eCommerce) were just shockingly bad at serving mobile users. I see it across all the key performance indicators we check against, mobile is worse than the desktop by a long way. We’re so far from world class on mobile it’s a joke.

You have to answer the question “When and why would someone use a phone to visit my brand rather than their desktop?” and cater for that use case or set of use cases.

Most brands don’t do that.

Brands that get it right more often than not

Banks. Their mobile apps do exactly what you need for the mobile use case. They let you login, check your balance, make payments, move money between accounts and leave. They do exactly what’s required and they’ve all recognised they need to make the login process as easy as possible without compromising security. They have designed them to work with a small screen extremely effectively and they don’t try to up-sell, they just serve what you need when you need it.

A bank uses its corporate website to sell you all the other stuff (and of course that’s not always perfect) but they use the mobile app to allow you to do what you need to do as a customer. They have designed one use case for an app (on mobile) and a different set of use cases for their website (which they may still consider as desktop traffic).

Brands that get it wrong more often than not

Basically the rest. Most companies in 2013 designed responsive sites and thought – we’ve cracked the mobile problem. Banks cracked the use case question first then designed their websites and apps accordingly.

Take an eCommerce example. Typically when using a mobile site selling something you arrive at a page with a search form at the top and then a bunch of product categories. This makes sense. You do a quick search for a product then get the information. Sounds a reasonable use case.

But then typically you get to a complicated sales process which includes filling in forms, finding credit card information, adding your home/shipping address and such like. Things you’re not likely to do on a bus on the way to work. This impacts conversion on mobile phones.

The question is can you do anything about that as a brand? Can you give the option of 1 click purchase like Amazon, Apple or Google Play? If SOK in Finland are listening they can. So could Kesko. So could Finnair. So could Nokia/Microsoft. So could any company that could potentially utilise a database of customer names to make it easier for your their users.

If you can’t do that can you offer paying at a physical store with a phone voucher requiring no credit card or information? Can you offer payment via email? Can you get creative?

Creativity is the key

What analytics shows is that the problem exists. It shows that mobile conversion rates stink when compared to the desktop.

The problem I see is that many of the technical issues (responsive versus static, app versus mobile site) cloud what should be a creative discussion. It shouldn’t be a technical discussion it should be a sales and marketing driven discussion.

The situation with mobile sites and responsive design now reminds me of 15 years ago when people started using flash animations. They did it because they could rather than think about why they were doing it. We suddenly started seeing a load of bullshit flash animations that spun products around on pages while playing star trek noises rather than great user experiences that Flash and other similar technology was designed to deliver.

Today we want one site to rule them all (responsively). That’s fine if the user experience of the sites or apps you create are designed for the reason people use your site with a mobile. But that’s the challenge brands aren’t thinking about carefully enough. Responsive sites are great, don’t get me wrong, but the technology shouldn’t be about having only one website, they should be about enabling you as a brand and a marketer to become more flexible in creating great use cases and offers. I don’t see enough good design, I just see good CSS coding.

My challenge to you

Do me a favour, go into your analytics tools, set-up a mobile segment and tell me if your mobile conversion rate (or your key outcomes) are better than conversion rates from your desktop. If you don’t know how to do that Quru will do it for you for free. Just get in touch.

What I’m betting is unless you have designed an app or responsive site around a specific mobile use case then conversion will be rubbish in comparison to conversion from the desktop.

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

Posted in General, Mobile Web 3.0
One comment on “The Mobile Challenge – I Don’t Think You’re Ready Yet
  1. col says:

    good article. It pains me how many times companies get their mobile checkout wrong (I’m looking at YOU tmobile).

    I dont know what the problem is, I think it stems mostly from agencies not communicating to clients how important the user research is, or maybe the clients wishing to save R and D costs.

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