Mobile Shoppers Move from Browsing to Buying

Jan 12, 2016 3:24 PM  By

The 2015 holiday shopping season underscored the importance of mobile as a purchasing channel, with mobile shoppers shifting their behaviors this year from browsing to buying. In 2014, mobile traffic was strong but purchases lagged. But in 2015, our data revealed that 37% of online sales came from mobile on Thanksgiving, 33% on Black Friday and 28% on Cyber Monday. This is a substantial increase compared to Cyber Week 2014, which saw only 20% of online sales attributed to mobile.

Despite the dramatic impact mobile had on Cyber Week 2015, it still lags behind traditional desktops and laptops. Claiming the majority of traffic and sales this holiday season, desktop computers totaled $7.2 billion, up 10% over Cyber Week 2014. Much of mobile’s lag has to do with the simple fact that the population is consuming more and more email through a smartphone.

Email… really?

Yes, really! While it might seem antiquated, email still drives consistent buying traffic to websites. Since customers are opening more emails when they’re on the go, they’re less likely to be in a buying mode. However, just because there’s potentially less buying intent during a mobile interaction doesn’t mean marketers should ignore the channel altogether. When customers have more choice, each interaction becomes that much more critical.

When a customer clicks through a link in an email and the site is impossible to use, it doesn’t matter if the desktop site converts at 10%. Customers are never going to see it because of the awful impression it gave them.

We recently helped an online apparel company optimize conversion for its email visitors. The company changed its email display and design to be optimized for mobile devices and then targeted the messages by device and platform. The efforts paid off: they saw a 60% boost in click-through rate.

Here are a few tips you can use to improve the mobile experience based on what we learned from the 2015 holiday season:

Mind the design

Functionality such as mouse-over dropdown menus or modal windows don’t work as well on a mobile device. If your customers can’t navigate to the search box easily, or if your checkout doesn’t offer simple mobile-friendly features like guest checkout or an option like PayPal, you will effectively limit your conversion potential.

Simplify, simplify, simplify!

Even with pinch-to-zoom, a page that is dense with content will be more difficult to navigate than one that is streamlined. Make buttons bigger, simplify navigation to the essential paths and make the most important copy stand out. If the content isn’t critical, leave it out.

An electronics ecommerce company turned to us for help with optimizing its iPhone experience for customers. The company hid, modified and moved elements at just about every point in the conversion funnel – from the homepage to the checkout process. All of these changes were designed to simplify the site to keep iPhone users focused on converting. Here’s a brief look at how it can be done:

  • Replace header & footer with more simplified version
    • Audience: All visitors
  • Replace homepage hero with iPhone-specific creative
    • Audience: iPhone users
  • Simplify index page by hiding elements such as header, search box and left navigation
  • Modify the index page to display products in two columns (as opposed to four) to increase image size
  • Simplify the product page by hiding elements such as left navigation, breadcrumbs and product image
  • Streamline the product detail page by moving the call to action out of the right margin and putting it directly below the area where users make their selections

Responsive design doesn’t guarantee a great mobile experience

Simply having a responsive site doesn’t mean it’s an ideal mobile experience. After all, just because the formatting looks better doesn’t necessarily mean the utility has improved. Sometimes the content itself needs to be different on different devices in order to deliver the best experience possible.

Hint! You can also try promoting “responsive offers.” We helped a fashion ecommerce retailer launch a test of mobile-only offers and dynamic content for its smartphone users. Their responsive offers were a hit. Mobile conversion rate jumped from 0.13 percent to 1.2 percent over a six-month period.

Think Local

Last but certainly not least, research shows that many smartphone users are actively looking for local details, nearby store locations or inventory they can peruse. This is why it’s imperative to implement location-aware features such as prominent links to nearby store locators, as well as buttons for click-to-call and click-to buy, so that mobile shoppers can easily find the closest store or even make a purchase when they’re en route.

As brands set their sights on converting shoppers, approaching their marketing campaigns with a mobile-first mentality will not only provide friendlier experiences to customers who are on the move, it will ultimately pay bigger dividends and boost the bottom line.

Brett Bair is Senior Director of Digital Marketing Insights for Monetate.