In Summary: Making it easy to convert on a mobile device is key to maximising conversion rate. Mobile conversions must play to the strengths of mobile devices and simply replicating the desktop experience is often not enough.
As in previous posts in this series, I invite readers to think about the way the mobile user experience is different from desktop. On desktop, many conversion funnels require visitors to jump through a series of hoops (often forms) before the visitor can become a customer. While this is often an unsatisfactory experience for a person with a mouse and a keyboard, mobile visitors are even less likely to put up with this in order to convert.
Mobile devices are increasingly touchscreen and the majority of smartphones have only a virtual keyboard. Mobile users also don’t have the speed of multi-finger typing and many will enter data solely with relatively large unwieldy thumbs. While there are vehicles for data-entry specific to mobile which can really help, like voice entry and text completion, these methods are rarely useful when a visitor is using uncommon language such as when they are entering a postal address or email address.
So, how do we help mobile users complete a conversion or even partially complete? By partially completing a conversion I mean allowing them to perform an action that they can complete conveniently through another medium. Here are some ways that can help make mobile conversions easier:
Have a Single Customer Experience Across all Platforms
The means by which visitors can interact with your site are varied. Mobile users will be using small screens and their thumbs; tablet users will be using medium size screens and their fingers; and desktop users will be using medium to large screens and a mouse and keyboard. However, it should be possible for a visitor to begin the conversion process on one platform and complete it on any of the others. This is what we mean by a single customer experience. For example, with amazon.co.uk a visitor can login to their account on a desktop and start adding things to their shopping cart. If they need to leave their desktop, they can simply login to their account on their mobile device and complete the transactions while they’re on the move. And this functionality is not limited to ecommerce websites. On autotrader.co.uk a visitor can add a car they are interest in to their garage on their desktop and then open their garage on mobile or tablet and find the same car there as they travel to see it.
On Amazon.co.uk, it is possible to begin a conversion on one device and complete it on another
Allow Visitors to Save Searches
Have Clear Calls To Action
This one stands to reason everywhere but it is still a barrier to conversion on many sites. Often the website owner has provided too many conversion options or not clearly enough labeled to the visitor where they are expected to go next. Avoid using multiple conversion options and use button colour and size to clearly indicate to a visitor what you want them to do next.
On Mothercare.com, the call-to-action is clear and easy to find
Allow Visitors to Save Baskets
For website owners with a basket for their visitors to fill prior to checking-out, it is a good idea if those visitors can save their baskets for their return or even for them to access the basket again from another platform. This will also encourage cross-platform purchases. Easy account login is imperative for this to work. Have an account login button on every page and keep login simple. If a visitor doesn’t have an account and is not making an immediate purchase, entering their name and email address should be sufficient for them to save their basket and access it again elsewehere.
Keep Forms Short
The best way to ensure that conversions are easy is to make sure that all forms are only as long as absolutely necessary. Get your conversions in before asking irrelevant marketing or cross-sales questions. By keeping forms short you can make conversion on a mobile device much easier indeed.
Use Top-Aligned Labels
When a mobile phone user taps on a form field, very often the browser zooms in to that field. Mobile devices are also long but narrow when vertically orientated. Thus, having form field labels to the left as is common on desktop is less feasible. By implementing field descriptions above the field it is easier for a visitor to see where they are and it allows more space for form fields.
Booking.com uses top-aligned labels in their checkout
Use HTML5 for Form Fields
By using HTML5 in form fields, it is possible to help users to complete those fields more efficiently. For example, a field for telephone number will be filled using the number keypad. Find a simple introduction to HTML5 in plain English here.
Data entry needs to be kept to a minimum when a user has only their finger or thumb and a virtual keyboard to help them. By using check boxes, lists and scroll menus to make data entry easier, you will be helping the visitor to proceed through the conversion process. However, it is important not to give a visitor too many options in these lists or they may be less decisive.
Mobile users are much more likely to make a phone call than a desktop user. If your business converts over a telephone line, make sure that all references to phone numbers on your website are tagged for click-to-call and where possible make those links into buttons.
RAC.co.uk have implemented click-to-call buttons for their breakdown service
Use Geo-Technology for Offline Conversions
A key difference between mobile and desktop users is that mobile users are using a device with location based technology. Where a conversion can take place offline, it is advisable to use this technology to help a visitor find their way to your store. In such cases it can be useful for there to be a stock checking functionality on the page and a button which will link to directions, preferably with a map, to the nearest store with the product(s) in stock. If you wish to track purchases which began on a phone, consider allowing visitors to reserve products in advance and attributing a unique tracking code to each reservation. Or to encourage quick offline sales, you might also consider having a discount code for mobile shoppers who come to the shop and convert quickly.
So, in summary, 10 ways to make conversion completions easy from a mobile device include:
Have a Single Customer Experience across Channels
Allow Saved Searches
Have Clear Calls to Action
Allow Saved Baskets
Keep Forms Short
Use Top Aligned Labels
Use HTML5 in Form Fields
Use Check Boxes, Lists & Scroll Menus
Use Geo-Technology for Offline Conversions
Mobile Website Testing Tip: When you are building your mobile site, test it on different devices to make sure it looks well on different sized screens. Check out this tool to replicate phones from different operating systems on your desktop.
In my next post, I will be looking at best practices for Search & Refinement on mobile websites. If you have a comment, please post it.
Posted by Shane Cassells, Google Conversion Team