July 8, 2014

The mobile channel has been building steam for several years now:

  • Mobile traffic has grown nearly 100% in just the last year, according to Statcounter.
  • There are 156 million smartphones in the U.S., increasing by 24% annually, according to comScore.
  • 80% of the time consumers spending shopping on their devices is through an app, reported comScore.
  • Consumers will make $87 billion in purchases from mobile devices this year alone, noted Forrester Research.

Mobile has become part of our daily routine — from booking travel, to finding restaurants, or just getting directions to the nearest coffee shop. Basically, we use our smartphones for just about everything.

Maximizing Mobile ROI

So how can online retailers maximize their ROI from their mobile channel? Since an increase in revenues is directly related to an increase in conversions, one obvious way to see an almost immediate return on investment is to increase those conversions through mobile testing and optimization. For online retailers to win the mobile game, they have to optimize both their mobile websites and their mobile apps.

Testing and optimization simply isn’t just for the web anymore. Testing can determine where mobile web and app users are losing interest as well as what mobile users like and don’t like. Testing can also provide the in-depth data on how much time users spend on your mobile website or app, and where it can be improved. This knowledge helps companies deliver an enhanced mobile experience which in turn drives engagement, resulting in better conversions and revenue.

About Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization using A/B and multivariate testing has been proven to be one of the most effective and immediate experimentation methods to increase sales, enhance visitor engagement, and encourage content consumption.

Common methods for running controlled experiments range from simple A/B testing to sophisticated multivariate testing. In A/B testing, one or more new versions of a page or single element compete against the original (control) version. For example, two new versions of a headline might compete against the original headline. Multivariate testing, on the other hand, is like running many A/B tests concurrently, where there are multiple elements being tested at the same time.

For example, two alternate product images, plus two alternate headlines, plus two alternate product copy versions create a total of 27 possible combinations (including the original control versions).

Think about using multivariate testing in your mobile experiences to learn how to better influence and persuade visitors to:

  • Interact with your mobile brand, content, and functionality
  • Adopt mobile site features in order to get information on the go
  • Click-through to mobile ads and geo-aware offers, such as coupons
  • Register for mobile accounts
  • Download digital products such as ringtones, wallpapers, and apps
  • Increase AOV and revenue from mobile sites and apps

Targeting Your Mobile Audience

Testing a subset of existing, highly-trafficked content on a targeted mobile audience can provide a low-cost and low-risk stepping stone towards building a business case around making a deliberate investment in mobile optimization.

Tests have proven that showing mobile users’ content that is specifically tailored for mobile devices improves the user experience, makes the visit stickier and, ultimately, increases conversion rates.

With mobile targeting, marketers and analysts are able to test, measure and, ultimately, deliver the mobile experience that is most effective for each mobile device category. These can include attributes such as:

  • Device type, including tablets and smartphones
  • Mobile operating system
  • Screen dimensions and rotation support
  • Browser capabilities
  • Cellular network data speeds
  • Preferred markup language
  • Keyboard type

Discover what works by testing elements of your mobile experience such as navigation, image size, image choice, specific words or phrases, placement, design, graphical elements, headlines, colors, variations in functionality, or dynamic content.

What is important to understand about mobile optimization is that it not only shows you which combination of elements your visitors prefer, but it reveals which individual elements influence visitor behavior versus those that do not.

For example, did variations in the product image influence visitor behavior more, less, or the same as the copy?

Best Practices

Understanding how each mobile site element influences the visitor experience is the essence of a “test-learn-repeat” process that marketers can use to prove or disprove the effectiveness of new ideas and continually improve their mobile experience to achieve — and exceed — their marketing goals.

Retailers should consider optimizing mobile sites and apps built using traditional, responsive, or adaptive design, or developed as a single page app or native application, in addition to every aspect of their websites (front-end usability as well as back-end functionality).

In doing so, you’ll establish a comprehensive testing and optimization program that addresses all online channels, including web, mobile web, and mobile apps. Clearly defined goals, a strategic optimization plan, and the qualified personnel to execute the plan will ensure that your mobile channel thrives and your optimized apps convert browsers to buyers and keeps them engaged for years to come.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of retailTouchPoints. You can read the original version here.

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