By now, marketers should have stopped asking whether mobile “will” have an impact on their business. The answer is obvious: Mobile IS a big deal. And if you want to move forward with mobile, you should stop obsessing over tactical issues such as what platform to optimize for or which features to implement.
The first questions about mobile are actually nowhere near that sexy, and you can get to that part later when you’re done with the most pressing issues.
The Right Questions
The first thing to figure out—and you can do this any number of ways—is what tasks users are trying to get done while using a mobile device.
It’s a no-brainer, but yes, your first mobile questions are pretty much the same as your first desktop questions:
1. How are people using mobile devices on your website today? How is the traffic different from desktop?
2. What do mobile users need? What are they trying to do?
3. How does mobile usage align with your business objectives?
4. What can you do to help mobile users with their task?
The Right Approach
The reason most websites do not have a killer mobile presence six years into this paradigm shift is partially due to the fact that we’re only now developing standards and best practices. User expectations still vary, even for common website elements like menus. But that’s just part of the problem.
The bigger problem is that many companies are trying to jump to the solution stage without going through the problem stage; that is, they are saying responsive design (layout that adapts to screen size) fixes everything, or a mobile presence is required, or just build a native app, or just do a BBC. Clearly, responsive design is on everyone’s minds right now; Monetate just released a white paper on the topic, too.
One of those may be true. Two of those may be true. But the problem with jumping to responsive design or a mobile version off the bat is that those solutions solve specific problems; they could be great for your website, or they could be almost irrelevant to your web presence.
The correct approach is to—and this is almost painfully unsexy—do the math, first. Find the biggest differences between usage for phones, tablets, and traditional computing devices like desktops.
The Right Numbers
If no common tasks appear more frequently on mobile, and the traffic is roughly as evenly spread, responsive design is your friend. Study the types of devices and screen sizes that are most commonly used to access your site, determine width groupings (one version for below 320 pixels, another for 321 pixels to 480 pixels, and the default for 481 pixels and up, perhaps?), and you can begin planning resources. Plan ahead for success metrics: If you can get qualitative data about task success rates after implementation, that works out best.
However, if there are common tasks on mobile, you need to determine how to best solve for those tasks. If the tasks are around content for one particular area of the website, consider a mobile version that streamlines the experience. If most of your mobile phone users are just looking for a phone number, consider adding click-to-call. To track success, you may want to build funnels for those common tasks—mobile website funnels and click-to-call click-through rates should be among your top options.
What about you? What questions are you asking around mobile, and what approaches have worked?
Tim Ash is the CEO of SiteTuners, a leading conversion rate optimization agency that has helped over 850 clients worldwide. He is chairperson of Conversion Conference, the first conference focused on improving online conversions, and is a highly-regarded presenter at SES, eMetrics, PPC Summit, Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Affiliate Conference, and LeadsCon. Tim is author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization and is a contributing columnist to many publications. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Mobile Phone image courtesy of Shutterstock.