“My mobile strategy isn’t working” is a lament I hear all too often in the world of digital commerce. Much of the problem rests within this statement itself. The idea of applying one strategy to two completely different devices--smartphones and tablets--that each have distinct uses and results is flawed from the start.
Mobile commerce requires two strategies: one for smartphones and one for tablets.
It’s easy to understand why we lump both devices into the same strategy. Typically they work on very similar operating systems. The concept of responsive design applies to both, and they often share one another’s apps. For customers, however, all similarities end here.
Developing the right strategy for each device means exploring how each one is used by customers. Let's start with tablets, which, based on consumer behavior, are panning out to be a more user-friendly alternative to laptops and desktops.
Indeed, apart from some interface differences, such as swiping and tapping rather than scrolling and clicking, shopping on a tablet feels much like shopping on a desktop. As marketers, it should hardly surprise us that the m-commerce conversion results for tablets mirror those for laptop and desktops.
So, by default, odds are you have your tablet strategy pretty well-solved, supported by much of your desktop strategy. The only major difference is that your site should provide for swiping and finger-based navigation. That’s a cinch. With these simple user interface changes, you can apply the strengths of your site’s desktop strategy to anyone visiting from a tablet.
Smartphones: Now The Work Begins
Now let’s explore how people use smartphones, for which the word “mobile” is more suitable. When using a smartphone, we can assume people find themselves in settings that are highly transitory. The environment outside the palm of their hands is competing for what’s on their screens. There is no such thing as undivided attention when people are using smartphones.
As such, it should be obvious to us why smartphone users’ conversion rates remain drastically lower than tablets and desktops. Yet all potential for e-commerce is not lost. When executed correctly, smartphone conversion rates have the highest upside opportunity and the biggest chance to positively impact your revenue.
So what are the most critical strategies to consider when marketing to people who are visiting from their smartphones? At the simplest level, realize your limitations and work within them. Screen real estate is tighter and competitive, so it is crucial to present your absolute best product options as quickly as possible. This means maximizing the layout and making the most of the one-column view that is best-suited to smaller screens. It also means taking advantage of one-to-one personalization.
True one-to-one personalization is built from the data unique visitors share as they navigate your store. Instead of presenting an endless aisle of generic products in a category, personalization allows you to present items that are highly specific to the individual customer's interests, preferences, and needs, and within the context of their distracted moments. In a sense, you are creating a curated store for just one person. By doing so, you dramatically increase your chances of converting that visitor to a buyer. The more personalized the results, the greater the likelihood of a sale.
This also applies to site search on smartphones. No one wants to swipe through hundreds of search results on a tiny screen. They want more accurate results that have been narrowed down to suit their individual preferences. A search for “shorts” should yield results appropriate to a person’s size, gender, and style preferences--all of which based on previous visits and clicks (not only purchases).
With even a small amount of data to work with, personalization can accurately anticipate and present the five items a customer is most likely to buy, rather than flood them with 50 random items to wade through in search of those same five items.
Now is the time to provide the smartphone with the care and feeding it deserves. It is a time of immense opportunity for digital commerce marketers to grow a channel that has traditionally underperformed. Smartphone traffic is surging, and those marketers who make the most of this opportunity will have a distinct competitive advantage. Those who fail to respond will miss out on securing revenue growth in the foreseeable future.