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10 Tips for Optimizing Your Mobile Site

Mobile’s pinnacle has yet to be reached. According to eMarketer [1], mobile search spending will grow 81% over the next two years. Smartphone purchases have already outpaced desktops. And mobile has a 76% penetration in the US – that’s 240MM users with a 4% YoY growth (KPCB, 2/2011).

With this growth, mobile has become a critical player in the digital marketplace.  If you’ve already started managing a separate account for your mobile paid search, you’ve likely also thought about device-optimized landing pages for your mobile ads. Traditional desktop pages will not be as effective on the small, touch-screen displays of mobile devices.  And the mindset and engagement style of mobile users are different. It will become increasingly necessary to create a customized experience for your mobile users.

To start you off, here are a few tips to keep in mind while building your mobile page. I recently had a chance to hear Amy Africa’s mobile seminar at the 2011 Conversion Conference [2] in San Francisco.  It was, by far, one of the best mobile optimization talks I’ve attended.  Here’s my take on the top 10 tips to optimize your mobile site for conversions:

1. Optimize  for Speed

Page load speed matters on all web sites; they matter even more on mobile. This is probably one of the most important user experience facets to assess when building your page. Mobile users do not have the patience to wait for over 15 seconds for anything to load. So make sure to prioritize low page weight when designing your mobile page. Less is more.

2. Focus on One Goal

Unlike your traditional website, your mobile site does not have the space to provide multiple functions. You will have to pare down your content to just a precious few. Figure out the single most important purpose of your mobile site: branding, acquisition, engagement, retention, customer service, etc.  For example, your mobile page may need to be devoted primarily to checking reservations as opposed to booking reservations. What users look to accomplish on your mobile page could be vastly different from you traditional homepage. Assess what pages receive the highest mobile traffic, and prioritize your content, function, and design to what users are seeking.

3. Navigation is Key

Navigation makes up the majority of your success. “Word connect” is extremely important on mobile, so make sure you think carefully about how you title your navigation buttons and links (stay away from those esoteric terms).  And don’t use up space on pictures at the cost of navigation choices – especially on your top nav.

4. Ease of Use

Each individual page of your site should keep to low content volume. Successful sites segment their pages with more granularity, especially when considering the option to only offer 5-8 choices on one screen. For example, “t-shirts” and “sweaters” deserve separate pages to allow users to reach their destination easier and quicker. Also, functions such as breadcrumbs, filters, and jump links can really improve the user experience on your site.

5. Use Large Fields

Manipulating the size of your fields and the space between them is critical. This is the most important thing in capturing leads. Larger fields will help users more easily see and complete the fields. They will impact completion rate, and also mitigate error rates (remember, error rates are much higher on mobile at around 20%).

6. Reflect Your Brand

Most users already have an idea of what your mobile page should look like even before they arrive. Remember to transfer over the most visually significant elements from your traditional site to your mobile site. Things like color should reflect the color palette of your homepage. If users don’t feel an instantaneous brand match when they arrive on your mobile site, they will most likely bounce. And remember, 85% of a user’s view is spent on the top section of your page, so make sure to get the essentials at the top.

7. Mobile Site vs. App

A mobile app is not a mobile site. Actually, if you are planning to have both – they should have clearly different functions. Or, if you are having to choose one, definitely start with building the mobile site – this is what users will be looking for first.

8. Work Your Click-to-Calls

Browsing a site on a mobile device makes it that much easier to turn that action to a phone call. Grab your users while their intent and interest are there. Call leads can show higher quality traffic than from form leads, since it requires users to jump deeper into the funnel. Click-to-Call should be enabled for all phone numbers on your site, and is especially crucial for lead gen pages.

9. Collect Mobile Numbers

We’re still in the precious early period of open-minded users, who are curious to try out new methods of connecting. People won’t always be as open about sharing their mobile numbers as they are now. Collect them whenever you get a chance – even if you don’t know what to do with them. Don’t forget about the opportunities to collect from your non-mobile channel as well: your website, social profiles, sign-up forms, etc. If you’re feeling gutsy, maybe try out a text messaging appeal.

10. Full Website View

It’s very important to always offer the option for your users to switch to your full website view. Users accustomed to specific content on your homepage may feel disoriented when they cannot find the same items on your mobile page. Typically, this switch-to-full-site link is placed on the bottom of the first page, but if you find your users struggling with your mobile site, consider moving the link to the top of page.

To learn more about mobile site optimization, check out a recording [3] of The Search Agency’s recent webinar with the American Marketing Association and Google on mobile paid search.


About Grace Kim

Grace Kim is an Associate Manager of Consumer Experience at The Search Agency. She enjoys optimizing the post click traffic her SEM colleagues work hard to send her way. Aside from scheming new ways to improve site conversions, collecting peculiar postcards is one of her favorite diversions.