It’s a whopper. Apparently the gap between desktop and mobile conversion is an astonishing 270%. How come? It’s simple: mobile websites are a bit rubbish. Smartphone screens are far too small, with no space for the kind of fine detail punters like to explore before buying. So marketers need to be smarter.
Should we try to fix it? Or should we accept that the natural limitations of the mobile screen mean smartphone conversion rates are never going to catch up? As it turns out, there are a few things you can do to maximise smartphone potential.
Cramming information into a tiny space
When marketers are faced with a miniature screen, some panic and pack as much information in as possible. They lose because the result is so hard to read. Others hone down the page content so it looks good within the available space, easier to consume. They lose too, because there isn’t enough information to make a well-informed buying decision. Talk about a catch 22.
Good design doesn’t involve cramming loads of information into a tiny space. Powerful sales messages don’t always work as well when they’re difficult to read. Nor do they deliver the goods when shortened without the right amount of care. These issues matter, despite responsive design’s promise to deliver a seamless cross-device landscape.
Responsive design automates mobile page creation
Responsive design is hugely popular because it means you don’t have to get a whole new site designed for mobile users. It just happens in the background. If I design a WordPress site the responsive element is automated. But it isn’t always done with marketing in mind, and a wholesale direct transfer of a page from desktop to mobile is rarely good enough.
All too often, responsive pages fill mobile screens with content that just isn’t relevant to people on the go. They’re conceived with the desktop user in mind, whose intent is very different. You can’t abandon responsive design altogether, but it makes a lot of sense to think carefully about the mobile user’s state of mind and the experience you’re giving them instead of simply transferring a desktop design to mobile without giving it a thought.
This brings us back to the gnarly old chestnut of knowing who comes to your site via smartphones and understanding their intent once they arrive. It’s something you can’t afford to swerve. Once you’ve done that, there are a few practical ways to maximise small-screen sales potential.
Maximising the impact of a responsive page
- Scale images intelligently – It looks fabulous on a desktop screen… but crap on a tiny screen. You want to avoid a cluttered design that makes it hard for visitors to see what’s going on, so keep an eye on image proportions. While responsive design usually scales images down automatically, it isn’t always the best move. Does the image take up the entire screen? If so, what – if any – marketing function does it perform?
- Make navigation super-simple – Clarity and functionality are vital. Provide a menu or search bar on every page to help people get around fast. And don’t assume which one people will prefer. Keep an eye on your stats to find out if your audience likes to use the search bar or the menu, then put the most popular in the most prominent position.
- Include a contact page – Mobile searchers want to find you easily and quickly. A prominent contact page lets them do exactly that without faffing about. As you can imagine this one’s particularly relevant to bricks and mortar restaurants, pubs, shops and any other business people want to physically track down and visit.
- Get rid of pop ups and overlays– Pop ups and overlays are annoying enough on a desktop, but they’re a killer on a mobile site. All they do is distract people from their goal, the last thing you want. Remember marketing isn’t about what you want to tell your audience, it’s about what they want to hear from you.
- Think direct response marketing – It’s no good going on and on at great length. Mobile page content needs to be cut to the bone, lean yet powerful. Simplify, shorten and optimise page content so it provides exactly what visitors want and expect, no more. It’s an information hierarchy thing. The trick is to prioritise what’s relevant to mobile conversion and ditch the rest.
- Make scrolling sing for its supper – People are much more inclined to scroll down on a mobile site than a desktop. It’s natural. Capitalise on the fact and make sure everything on the page is laid out clearly and simply, with short headers, short chunks of text and images that don’t overwhelm the message. Keep it appealing and exciting from start to finish.
- Add a prominent call to action – Knowing people’s intentions means you can create an appropriate, short and potent call to action based directly on their goal. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the page, as it often is on desktop sites. The call to action button should be the first element they see, telling them exactly what to do next: find a course, enquire, set up an account, contact you, whatever ‘conversion’ means to you in that particular page’s context.
Will all this encourage people to buy more stuff via their smartphone? It’ll help… a bit. But unless mobile screens get magically bigger, I doubt the gap will ever close completely. Make your mobile pages the go-to destination for finding stuff out on a small screen and you’ll be doing a decent job.