Mobile optimization is crucial to providing a great customer experience. Getting your site mobile optimized, however, may not be as easy as you think. This guide, recapped from Symposium New York 2017, will teach you everything you need to know to get started with mobile optimization – the right way.
Last year, holiday shoppers made a statement: they loved their mobile phones. From comparison shopping and deal seeking, to finding products and making purchases, smartphones and mobile devices played a critical role in the success of the 2016 Q4/holiday season. This trend, while anticipated to an extent, made one thing clear: today’s consumer is leveraging their smartphone every opportunity they get. Just look at the data from eMarketer that shows how Millennials used their smartphones last holiday season:
This means one thing: the demand for a good mobile shopping experience isn’t a novelty, it’s a necessity. You need to make sure your site, platform, content, and whatever else you may offer to a visitor or customer is ready for the mobile user.
But how? In order to understand how to succeed in mobile optimization, we sat in on a Symposium New York Strategy Session on how to make your platform mobile ready. In this recap of that Strategy Session, you’ll learn how to understand the mobile user, ways to optimize your site, how you can measure the mobile-readiness of your platform, and what steps you should take. Read on and get ready for the mobile user in time for Q4 and the holiday season!
Understanding the Mobile User
Before you start optimizing the mobile side of your platform, you need to understand how users are engaging with you. Being able to identify the preferences and dislikes of a mobile user can act as a guide for what you need to improve your own mobile site, as well as get an idea of what your visitors value most.
eMarketer recently examined different shopper behaviors on mobile devices across a few key categories.the results were telling: most shoppers looked for value in some fashion, be it a coupon or a cheaper price at another store. Most also wanted to know more about the product, or learn how other people experienced the product through reviews. However, this tells us one thing: customers, regardless of vertical, need to have their experiences met in order to make an informed purchasing decision.
These usage examples show some of the ways that a mobile user leverages their smartphone in the path to purchase, but to truly understand the mobile shopper we need to define two key aspects: what they want, and how they interact with the website or platform. To start, let’s examine who the average mobile user is. There are three key traits to be mindful of:
Need > Brand
When mobile users shop for something they need, the focus isn’t on who makes the product they’re seeking. Instead, mobile users are looking to address a need that a product should fulfill – who makes that product isn’t nearly as relevant. When considering your mobile shopper keep in mind that their loyalties lie to their own needs rather than to a particular brand.
Mobile users have some of the best technology in the palm of their hand, and they’ll naturally expect that their experience mirrors that level of technology. An outdated web design might be accessible and more tolerated on a desktop, but on a mobile device where screen size is limited and navigation is dependent on precise touches, it won’t pass. The same goes for user flow, checkout process, or anything you can think of from a user experience.
Acting on Stimulus
When a shopper is motivated to buy, they’re acting more on the visual presentation that the mobile format is offering them. If the mobile visuals are clean, clear, and integrated nicely on a page, a user will be much more compelled to hit the purchase button.
Understanding these behaviors is critical to understanding user interactions, but a profile of your visitors isn’t the only thing you’ll need to succeed with mobile optimization. In addition to understanding how your visitors react to a mobile platform, you’ll also want to know what turns a user off from using a mobile site. In short, the answer is speed. But how important is responsiveness to a user? According to data cited in the Symposium New York Strategy Session, we see the following consumer behaviors:
- 46% of users say that waiting for a page load is their biggest dislike over anything else from the mobile experience.
- 53% of users will abandon a site if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- 52% say that fast load times are important to brand quality.
- A 1 second load time delay results in about an 8% increase in bounce rate, and about a 2.1% decrease in cart size.
In short, a mobile website needs two elements to be successful: speed, and intuitive design (or functionality). You want your users to perceive your page as fast and responsive, otherwise, you risk the chance of losing those visitors and their business.
4 Tips to Creating More Responsive Mobile Pages
1. Optimize Your Images
Visuals are a vital part of the shopping experience. Not only do shoppers act on these visuals as stimulus (mentioned above) but younger shoppers such as Millennials view these images as a form of communication on what the product is and how it benefits them. You’re playing a balancing game with these images on a mobile page: you don’t want images don’t lose quality, nor do you want them to be so large that they slow down the load time on the page. Strike the middle ground for this by using techniques such as lazy loading images, and avoiding download and hide or download and shrink. You can also try one-off compression tools.
Minification is a great technique to try in order to help push the speeds of your website. Using a tool like gzip to increase the speed of HTML files on a site, enhancing the user experience and making the page feel faster and more responsive.
Bundling your page to make it more responsive and feel quicker for users can be done using several different techniques. Browser caching is a common technique that takes advantage of a user’s cache by “remembering” what’s already been loaded by a user previously and recalling those files. This means if a user visits your page and comes back, the page will load quicker than the first time – provided the user doesn’t clear their cache.
You don’t want to have your only strategy be reliant on users returning, however, so techniques like prioritizing “above the fold” CSS loading can be beneficial. This technique will mean that when a user visits a page on mobile the content they’ll experience on their screen (the “above the fold” content) will load faster, thus allowing the user to explore the first portion of the page while the rest loads for them.
4. Focus on Key Metrics
Understanding how to evaluate the speed of your page will give you an idea of where you currently are as well as where you need to get in order to improve. Key metrics in speed and performance should be focused on when looking to make changes so you’ll know if these changes are beneficial and if they’re even working. Using a tool like Web Page Test can give you insights into how optimized your page is already. With this tool, you’ll want to evaluate your speed index score and complete document score. For the index score, you’ll want a result less than 3000, and for the document complete category, you’ll want to ensure you’re achieving 1MB in total weight per 75 requests. If you want more insights you can also use Google’s PageSpeed Tools and get the insights on a particular website. This tool will also provide feedback on ways you can optimize your page so that you can quickly get started on optimization.
Benefits of Mobile Optimization
Building your mobile platform or website for speed and performance benefits the user experience, which in turn can improve conversion rates on mobile devices. This is true for both publishers and advertisers, as shown from evidence within the Rakuten Affiliate Network.
A number of different publishers and advertisers in the Rakuten Affiliate Network were evaluated to find out if mobile optimization helped contribute to performance. We found that publishers who had optimized their mobile site for speed had 10% more mobile clicks than those who were not optimized, and advertisers saw an average of 3 additional conversions per every 1,000 mobile clicks.
We also found that optimization influenced some verticals more than others. Mobile-optimized sites in apparel, department stores, and housewares/small appliances saw an additional 6 conversions as opposed to 3; consumer electronics, travel, and lingerie saw an additional 8 conversions; and jewelry, cards/stationary, and financial services saw 12 or more additional conversions.
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Gina Smith contributed to this article. Gina is an Analyst for Rakuten Marketing based in San Mateo, CA. Although her degree is in business management, her true passion and background is in data analytics. She loves making data come to life to tell a story and finding correlations between seemingly unrelated data points. Outside of work she enjoys hiking, beaching, or otherwise being outdoors with her husband and siblings while drinking kombucha. She comes from a large family and is number five out of ten kids, most of who recently moved to Argentina along with her parents. She also drinks entirely too much kombucha.