Most ecommerce companies will have a mobile version of their website by now (and if you haven’t, it’s time to get onto it!)
We’re in an era of mobile everything and it is increasingly a customer expectation that they will have excellent experiences on mobile. This is one reason why it’s very important to optimize and test separately for mobile traffic.
Your mobile and desktop traffic aren’t necessarily the same people or people with similar intent for visiting your site. In fact, studies into the origins and intent of traffic show us there are clear differences.
It helps to understand these and to consider how they apply to your A/B testing for mobile. Let’s take a look:
The state of mobile
Of course, any A/B testing should be firmly rooted in baseline data you gather from your own traffic. There may be variations in terms of your own customer preferences, for which it is important to test. For now, we can look at some generalizations based on current studies.
Key characteristics of mobile users
We know that mobile penetration has spread widely globally, with a forecast of 4.9 billion mobile users in 2018, and over half of all of those being smartphone users.
Mobile users tend to be using their device while on the go. They might casually browse for something while waiting for an appointment or pick up their phone when they wake up in the morning to flick between apps. In fact, a study of UK users found that 55% look at their phones within 15 minutes of waking up.
You might think that mobile users would tend to be younger, and while there is definitely more smartphone penetration among younger age groups, studies show that penetration among ages 55 to 75 has increased markedly over the last few years. Statistics may vary according to the particular demographics for your business of course, but overall, don’t discount this age group when it comes to mobile.
Mobile activity today
One thing that holds true across markets and is important for ecommerce companies to understand and optimize for is that consumers tend toward multi-channel usage. This means that they explore your website across different devices at different times, perhaps not completing the transaction until the second or third device.
For your own ecommerce website, it’s important to keep track of the split between visitors using your site and the type of device they are using to access it. You can monitor this by using segments reports in Google Analytics.
Another key aspect to monitor is where the actual conversions are coming from. Overall, survey results show that consumers still prefer to complete a sale on a desktop. However, perhaps your website is different – this is another reason to closely monitor your traffic and where it comes from.Know the modality of your own website visitors. How many are coming from mobile? Click To Tweet
Responsive vs. mobile optimization
There’s an argument that still gets trotted out regularly among ecommerce businesses; “but we’ve got a responsive design, so we’re already optimized for mobile conversions!”
First of all, it’s important to understand what “responsive” really means. When you have a responsive website and someone enters it using their mobile device, the website automatically renders to fit the device the person is using. This is still a go-to method to cater to mobile traffic by most businesses out there.
So, what’s the problem with this approach when it comes to optimizing for mobile? For one thing, it almost always ignores the preferences and state of mind of mobile users. They’re getting a shrunk-down version of the desktop site, but they simply aren’t operating in the same way that they do while on a desktop.
Mobile users search for different things, need different things and overall, behave differently on mobile. We know mobile users multitask more, for example. All in all, they need an experience that was built for them, not built for desktop originally.
You only need to look at those statistics on mobile conversions to “get” it. If responsive is a good solution, why aren’t more people converting on mobile? We know people are spending more time on mobile, yet this is not being reflected in end results for retailers.
A possible answer is to build for mobile, rather than simply creating a responsive design to “look nice” on mobile. Mobile customers may be completely different from desktop customers and should be treated as such.
An example can be seen with Hubspot, who were looking to improve mobile conversions on their landing pages. They came up with a few hypotheses as to why their mobile conversions weren’t where they would like them, including the fact that essentially, people were being served the regular, lengthy website forms on mobile. The end results? With shorter forms and more concise content served to mobile users, they increased their conversion rate on landing pages by an average of 27%.
Mobile conversion optimization
When it comes to A/B testing for mobile conversion optimization, just like Hubspot did, it’s important to consider the points that cause friction for mobile users. Some of these are well-documented, but for your own site, it can be helpful to do some user testing and gather feedback to understand where the bumps are.
What users of any modality care about is having an intuitive experience, but you have to think about what that means in context. For example, for a mobile user, the context of how and where they’re using their device can change by the minute. Perhaps they’re walking somewhere and being distracted by things along the way. On the other hand, a desktop user tends to be in a stable environment and may be more at leisure with their browsing.
There’s definitely an element of mobile users being more susceptible to friction than desktop users, particularly due to their “mobile” frame of mind. Mobile has taught us that if we want it now, we can get it with a couple of clicks. When extra steps start getting in the way, it can seem too hard.
Causes of mobile “friction” that you can A/B test
There are some commonly known causes of friction for mobile users when it comes to using ecommerce sites. These can provide you with a good place to start for some A/B testing, but of course, you should gather your own data too:
- The interface is over-complicated. Let’s say you have a website with a lot of content on it – what happens to that content if it is shrunk down with a responsive design? The end result can often appear as a confusing mash-up of content and calls to action. This is perceived friction to the user – they aren’t sure where they’re supposed to go first. Perhaps the pathway through your funnel is entirely unclear. Trimming out content, as Hubspot did, could be a good A/B testing scenario in this case.
- Buttons that are difficult to click or fields that are difficult to fill out. This is a real friction point with mobile users – it has to be easy for them to click or type where needed.
- Checkout processes that are lengthy. This could also be related to the lengthy forms example from Hubspot. Mobile users are in action-mode – how many times have you looked at a mobile checkout process and thought instead to look at it on a desktop later? Remember that a mobile user will want to be able to take quick, easy action – can you facilitate this? Think of examples such as Amazon’s “click to buy.”
- Search functions that are hard to find or difficult to use. Users would like to find what they need quickly – if the search function is difficult, they may just give up and start browsing their Twitter feeds instead.
- Site load speed. As with desktop, load speed issues can be a source of frustration to mobile users. How can you boost mobile site speed, and does it have a noticeable impact on conversions?
When you have a goal to improve conversions from mobile users, it’s important to get yourself into the mobile frame of mind. The mobile user isn’t just entering your site on a different device, they’re perhaps an entirely different customer to a desktop.
A/B testing for conversion optimization should consider the aspects of friction that specifically impact mobile users. What is preventing them from taking the next step? How can we make it easier?
In the end, your mobile users will almost always have different preferences and mindset to desktop users, so treating them as a separate set of customers just might help your conversions.