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Maximizing mobile device conversion rates

The art of mobile marketing

Mobile marketing is the art of marketing your business to appeal to mobile device users. When done right, mobile marketing provides customers and potential customers using smartphones with personalized, time-and location-sensitive information so that they can get what they need exactly when they need it, even if they’re on the go.”

In 2014, the number of mobile device users worldwide surpassed the number of desktop users for the first time. According to one recent report, users access the internet with mobile devices 40% of their time online.

Mobile marketing is growing rapidly

Mobile internet usage

Though digital marketing gets all the hype, most CMOs know that advertising a company’s products and services is usually most effective with a mixed media strategy. However, marketing budgets now spend more on digital advertising than any other single venue. The average percentage of total digital marketing spending is projected to rise to 47% by 2020 ($129B). While investments in traditional advertising have dropped significantly every year for the past five, spending on digital marketing has increased yearly by double digit increments.

This begs the question–Which marketing strategies are most effective for different kinds of digital devices, ranging from desktops to smartphones? Without a finely tuned awareness of the advantages and challenges of each, your marketing initiatives will stagnate.

My assessment is that demand for stationary devices will remain stronger than analysts believed a few years ago. Why? More employees are working remotely either as full-time employees or independent contractors. Also, stationary devices last longer than they did 10 or more years ago, with resulting reduced demand accounting for a significant portion of their 8% sales decline in 2015/2016. –So far, in 2017, PC sales have increased by .4% with a projected increase of 3% in 2018. While many users are now addicted to using apps on their smart phones and tablets, they will continue to rely on desktops and laptops to complete most of their work and probably most of their online purchases. Bottom line: make sure you have a responsive design website (one that is effective on all devices, whether mobile or stationary).

Basic considerations in developing a strategy

Only 12% of businesses in 2016 had responsive design websites. This lack of flow from desktops/laptops to smartphone viewing of marketing information significantly impedes sales of products and services. Let me add that OWDT has been helping companies improve overall sales with state-of-the-art responsive design websites for over five years. We begin by ensuring that all our websites have full mobile device functionality—incorporating the features I describe in this article.

You have a tremendous range of possible mobile marketing strategies. The indispensable foundation of any digital marketing strategy is tailoring ads for smartphone, tablet, desktop, and other mobile devices to appeal to your current customers and any new demographic targets. Simplicity and efficiency are requisite, especially in the design of your mobile device website version. Any customization, however, must project consistent branding from one version of the website to another.

The challenge remains greatest for mobile device marketing. This is reflected in the significantly lower conversion rates for mobile devices compared to desktops/laptops. Of course, in parts of the world where smartphones are common, but home computers are not the norm, this isn’t a problem.

Why do mobile device conversion rates remain low for the ubiquitous smartphone in economically developed countries like the U.S.? People use their mobile devices sporadically through the day, primarily to catch up on emails, texts, etc. So, they may research a product on their smartphone briefly while at work, but wait until they return home to complete their product research before making their final product selection on their PC.

The challenges and opportunities

It’s an open secret that ISPs rely on software designed to addict people to mobile devices. This isn’t an exaggeration. The average person checks their smartphones 150 times a day– resulting in reduced work productivity and much less face-to-face social interaction. These issues are especially characteristic of Millennials. –The payoff for ISPs is increased advertising revenue, calculated according to the time users remain on an app or website.

By developing responsive design sites that are efficient and user-friendly, you do three things — (1) save your customers search time by giving them a quick, informative information on your products or services; (2) facilitate easier payment, thereby increasing your conversion rate; and (3) pull them away from their insidious apps, at least for a few minutes.

What research reveals about mobile-device users

The average mobile device user tends to be younger (ages 15-25). They like to window shop and consume significant, wide-ranging content. By comparison, desktop/laptop users are generally older (typically in their 30s and 40s), making purchases in a more focused way, and consuming less general content. That said people of all ages will use both stationary and mobile devices, depending on their immediate environment—but with different generational predispositions for how each device is used.

  • Smartphone users go online with their mobile devices 150 times a day on average—in the workplace, public transportation, shopping trips, etc. This constitutes a marketing opportunity that will grow over time as smarter strategies are developed.
  • The analysis of millions of mobile sessions by a major research company shows that users go online as often during work hours as they do in their free time.
  • Smartphone viewing is often rushed because people are on the run, dealing with back-to-back meetings, travel, etc. Smart phone sessions are 1.5 times shorter than on other devices.
  • These challenges require that marketing content contain the right information delivered at the optimal time.
  • Retail conversion rates are currently only 0.7% on smartphones; 2.2% on tablets; PC conversion at highest, at 3.3%.
  • Users are connected to their smartphones from 7 AM to midnight.
  • Though smartphone browsing is brief, if your advertising is attractive enough, the user will return to the large screen version of your site when they get home.
  • Mobile devices have become indispensable to answering important questions on the fly and making decisions—usually based on consumer ratings and advice found on social networks.
  • Landing pages need to download quickly because the average user will wait for only a half-minute at most to access content.
  • Smartphone users scan and leap—taking 40 seconds on average to decide whether to leave a page.
  • Without the advantages of responsive design, users quickly lose patience.
  • Users are quickly scared off by error messages.
  • Browsing behavior on tablets is like that observed on desktops. By contrast, because people use smartphones on the fly, they require much quicker response times.
  • Smartphone users spend 80% of their time on apps that have very limited e-commerce potential.
  • Mobile advertising remains less expensive than desktop advertising.

Mobile marketing best practices

Because mobile devices have small screens–avoid clutter and excess words in your site design. Keep things simple. Make sure your viewers have easy access to your location information. Mobile advertisers may choose to optimize their mobile ads to within a specific distance from their location, depending on their customer reach.

If you’re a brick and mortar business, provide users with detailed information relevant to them generated by big data analytic tools. This usually includes the potential customer’s current location and customer profile information. You can then personalize the information to maximize its relevance for the person inquiring. One often effective option is offering discount coupons in real time.

  • Know your audience – The type of audience you’re hoping to reach should directly influence the kind of mobile ads you use. Are they gamers? If so, take advantage of in-game ads.
  • Experiment – Marketers are still exploring best strategies for increasing conversion rates on mobile devices. Google, for example, offers numerous tools including click-to-call extension and many other ad extensions.
  • Benchmark Your Results – As with A/B website testing, keep careful track of what works. The Ad Words Grader is one method for tracking the performance of your ads.
  • Keywords are important in mobile marketing – with a focus on location, use no more than three keyword phrases for mobile searches.
  • Catch the attention of prospects with special offers – By offering sales and special offers first on your mobile site, you can give customers the option of receiving push alerts with each new offer. This is among the best strategies for achieving a higher mobile site conversion rate.
  • Always include your contact information – If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, provide your address, an automatic call link, and a map that expands and contracts.
  • Ensure your mobile website works on all devices – including the newest devices coming to market.

Mobile site design requirements

Sophisticated mega sites like Facebook and Spotify demonstrate that mobile devices can give users virtually the same experience as they have on their home computer. Spotify, for example, gives users the same music options on their smartphone that they have on their home computer.

  • Position your call to action (CTA) shopping cart at the top of the page. This will help reduce the likelihood that customers will leave your mobile site before completing the purchase.
  • It’s imperative that you make the payment process as simple as possible. The industry will eventually offer one click payment. For example, Mastercard is working to develop payment by “selfie.” The mobile wallet is another development that will better meet the needs of customers and e-retailers.
  • Users on mobile websites take 70% more time to finalize purchases compared with large screen sites. This hesitation demonstrates the need to build trust and credibility with mobile device users.
  • Because mobile device users are rushed for time and impatient, always use a loading bar rather than a blank screen during the 2.8 seconds (on average) waiting time, so they don’t leap to another site.
  • Mobile users are twice as likely to scroll down the entire page because tapping and swiping make it easier and faster (1.6 times faster) on mobile than on a tablet. Smartphone ‘infinite scroll’ allows customers to create a wish list to track potential purchases from one device to another.
  • Provide a store locator function so that potential customers can visit one of your stores, perhaps on their way home, to evaluate and choose among products they’ve perused online.
  • Again, allow for push notifications to alert customers to special offers, which also helps you gain more information about them and their product preferences. Push notifications were a big deal a few years ago and remain valuable for this purpose.
  • Incorporate features that work on apps with high traffic, i.e., a simple user interface, and content tailored to the customer.
  • This approach can also increase the odds that a user will return to your mobile site (the probability of a customer logging in to their user account on their smartphone is now 2.9%; compared with 10.7% for desktop users).
  • Streamline account creation for mobile users to reduce the 16% probability that they’ll bail at this stage.
  • Make mobile site access easy for potential customers. Avoid asking them unnecessary filter questions. Also, facilitate the completion of forms by incorporating dynamic data validation.
  • Limit exit points by, e.g., using large product images to limit accidental taps that take a person away from your site. For the same reason, eliminate burger menus to avoid unnecessary back and forth navigation.

Replicate some of the benefits of an app

While 80% of mobile time is spent engaged with apps, you don’t have to create an app yourself to get some benefits from them. Services like Google AdMob help advertisers create mobile ads that are uploaded to third-party mobile apps.

Facebook also allows advertisers to create ads that are integrated into Facebook’s mobile app. Facebook’s mobile Promoted Post ads integrate so seamlessly with Facebook’s newsfeed that users often don’t realize they’re looking at ads.

What Google offers?

  • Mobile image ads
  • Google adwords enhanced campaigns – Google relies on mobile ad revenue, so they have a strong incentive to improve the effectiveness of your mobile marketing.
  • Mobile site links – This extension is designed to help mobile users jump to specific pages on your mobile site.
  • Click-to-call mobile ad extension -This function places a “call” button directly beneath an ad that automatically generates a business’s phone number on a user’s mobile device. Make sure that this extension only appears during your business hours.
  • Google offers for mobile – allows advertisers to post a discount offer or coupon beneath their ad.
  • Click-to-download local ad extensions – Local ad extensions are probably the most important extensions for mobile because one-third of searches are for local business information. Local mobile marketing needs to be a key aspect of your mobile strategy.

Local mobile marketing extensions often involve a phone number or link to Google Maps


The smartphone’s addictive power is based on apps that are have limited e-commerce value. Though apps include ads, they will never generate improved conversion rates. Marketers who want to leverage the tremendous potential of the smartphone and other mobile devices need to design more efficient, user-friendly sites for mobile devices enhanced by Google and other extensions. Easier access to product information, more efficient payment systems and building consumer trust are essential to this process.

Marketers have gained valuable insights into the user experience with mobile devices. New opportunities will emerge as tech continues to improve and touch screen uses expand. However, three underlying imperatives will remain the same— (1) getting the attention of visitors, (2) facilitating the easy transmission of personal information, and (3) advancing towards more streamlined, secure payment.

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