Can you transfer learnings from your desktop optimisation to your mobile site? Do you need to optimise each site individually? These have suddenly become critical questions for online businesses – and here’s why.
Mobile is mushrooming. Analytics data for several of our clients shows that, for the first time ever, sessions on a mobile device have overtaken desktop sessions. Much of this growth is fuelled by increased 4G coverage, which has been found to have a positive relationship with online shopping. As the roll out of 4G continues, you can expect not only more mobile visits to your site, but also increased mobile sales.
Source: Cisco VNI Mobile, 2015
Figure 1: Over the next 4 years, 4G will grow to make up 68% of all mobile data traffic . Recent research suggests that this should have a positive impact on online sales.
While desktop still enjoys the lion’s share of online sales, US data suggests that mobile has started eating into the desktop pie.
As a result, mobile Conversion Rate Optimisation has rocketed up the priority list – leaving E-commerce directors dismayed at the thought of doubling the CRO workload. It’s not surprising therefore that the question we’re asked most frequently right now is whether mobile and desktop websites can be optimised together and how to go about it.
The first step is to assess whether your mobile site is ripe for optimisation – not all are, so you could be wise to stick to desktop only for a while yet. Here are some questions to consider:
This graph shows mobile sales lagging behind, which suggests that the best short term business case is to focus efforts on the desktop site, as that’s where the money is. An uplift on desktop will have a bigger overall revenue impact than the same uplift on mobile.
This graph shows how mobile device traffic has recently overtaken desktop for the first time ever for this particular client. Even if mobile revenue is still small compared to desktop, this could be a signal that optimising the mobile site could pay dividends.
According to Criteo’s State of Mobile Commerce Q2 2015 UK report, optimised mobile sites convert 35% better than non-optimised ones . This represents a significant opportunity cost for non-optimised mobile sites showing increasing traffic.
If you’ve been doing desktop optimisation for a while, and have started seeing diminishing returns, it may be a good time to start focusing more on mobile optimisation. However, if you’re just starting out, you may be able to squeeze more revenue from your desktop site in a shorter space of time.
Assuming your mobile site is a worthy candidate for optimisation, read on to find out where you can make savings, how to avoid duplicating unnecessary work, and what CRO activities you must carry out separately for each device.
Don’t think of device-specific optimisation as separate projects. You’ll see the best results by optimising your website as a whole and prioritising opportunities regardless of platform. Initially, you may find that mobile optimisation opportunities are lower down the priority list than desktop opportunities because they would have less of an impact on your overall bottom line. Alternatively, if the greatest opportunities lie on your mobile site, you may be a few months in to your optimisation programme before you’re testing anything on your desktop site. The key is not to go into this expecting to prioritise one device over the other. Follow what the data tells you. Sniff out the biggest opportunities and get the biggest wins.
Take an iterative approach to your research. Start by creating conversion funnels for each device. What do you see? Where are visitors arriving? Where are they exiting? What are they doing in between? You’re bound to uncover lots of insights with this.
Add heatmaps to key pages that you’re interested in finding out more about how visitors are using the page. Use the mobile Qualaroo tool to set up questions on pages where you need qualitative data to uncover why visitors are behaving in certain ways. Run usability sessions with visitors on all devices to really understand the specifics of each visitor set.
This process is less about transferring learnings and more about digging, and then being flexible in where the digging leads you. If you require more mobile specific digging, then build it into your programme. If you uncover something on the desktop site and then realise you need to pose a different Qualaroo question to mobile visitors, set it up. If a finding from a usability session on your tablet site reveals something new and you’re not sure if it’s also relevant to mobile or desktop visitors – pursue it.
Once you have generated your learnings, the next step is to prioritise areas to focus on, so that effort and resource goes into those likely to give the biggest return in the shortest time, regardless of which device the opportunity is on. Time needs to be spent prioritising the issues and preparing a combined optimisation plan with all devices included before working on the creative treatments to address the opportunities and setting up the split tests.
Although some findings apply universally across devices, visitor behaviour, psychology and intent are key areas that are likely to differ. Optimising your mobile site is not, therefore, as simple as doing the research, analysis and testing for one device and transferring learnings or improvements to another. True, some learnings can be transferred from one device to the other, but there are some aspects of CRO that need to be carried out independently.
Key techniques that require additional analysis are:
You may find that some optimisation opportunities apply across devices. For example, you may have a common theme of visitors complaining of a lack of product copy or images on product pages regardless of which device they are using. Such a finding may represent a big opportunity for you, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the treatment to address this issue will be the same. Improvements that work on mobile may not work on desktop or vice versa. Ideally, you want to run different tests on different devices. This is particularly the case if you are testing a radical new design.
For one of our clients, we ran a redesigned homepage split test. Although it delivered 34.7% increase in Revenue Per Visitor (RPV) on the desktop site (read the full case study here), RPV for visitors viewing the site on a mobile actually decreased.
There could be many reasons as to why this may be the case. Perhaps the new design was too cluttered for the smaller screen size. Did visitors not use their mobile to browse in the same way desktop visitors did? Without further research we can only infer. What we do know is that when the winning variation was rolled out onto the live site, it was important that only the desktop site was made live as the mobile homepage converted better as it was.
Top tip: Don’t assume that you’ll get a similar uplift on your mobile site as you are your desktop site. If you have already started optimising your desktop site and have run split tests across all devices, go back and segment your results by device if possible. (Optimizely has this feature, but on some platforms it needs to be set up in advance before starting the tests).
If optimising your mobile, or desktop, website is high on your list of priorities this year, get in touch today. Our team of optimisers have experience increasing sales and revenue for a wide range of desktop and mobile sites – and if you’d prefer to do it in-house we also offer training and mentoring to make sure you get the best results possible.
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