Responsive websites seem to be a very popular phenomenon at the moment in the digital space. With such a surge in mobile usage via smart phones and tablets, not catering for
such devices and their users is considered a serious oversight for businesses. Take a look at Google’s research in 2011 relating to the surge of smart phone usage for further evidence. This very website is fully responsive, so if you have any comments about your own experience on a particular device while browsing this blog, please feel free to comment or contact us. We’d love to hear about suggestions to help make the site better for our users!
Catering for mobile visitors can be dealt with in various ways, other than responsive, including; mobile websites that usually sit on a mobile-specific domain, with mobile traffic being redirected to this if a request is made to the regular domain. The other option that some businesses are going for, is to drive mobile users to the company app upon landing on the regular company site. These users are then driven to the relevant point of download for said app, and then carry on with their intended activity. Some actual examples I’ve seen that use this concept are Hotels.com (their app is really good), and also the Daily Mail.
I think that responsive has quite a few advantages for conversion and usability compared with these alternative options, which I have experiencedfirst hand and that I
think are worth sharing with you. I’ll drill down to the analytics conversion opportunities in greater detail later.
A few quick wins for responsive sites:
- The user journey is consistent across all devices for the end user. Many users tend to browse the same websites across different devices, so by ensuring the experience is the same, this will keep the site and user experience consistent.
- Responsive, in my opinion has a win over mobile dedicated domains and driving users to apps because every time a user goes through this process there is a time delay and a distraction (downloading said app, being redirected to a different site that’s on a mobile domain), therefore, this becomes a point of attrition where the user can simply lose interest and they fall out of the conversion funnel.
- You’re able to generate 3 different web analytics reports of the same website by segmenting your users by device type. From this segmentation, you can then start to drill into the data and discover a HUGE amount of insight for every type of device, see more below!
- Reduced costs and upkeep for webmasters, whilst reducing the strain on web development teams. No new domains for mobile need to be acquired, no extra web hosting needed, and no apps necessarily need developing (I do love apps, just for the record). Also, content editors can make single changes to the site which will be compatible for all users. This makes content updates much more manageable, and in itself is a big plus.
“OK, OK, that’s enough selling of responsive, now for the analytics and conversion bit..”
enough selling of responsive, now for the analytics and conversion bit..”
Conversion opportunities with responsive sites:
Any good web analytics platform will be able to segment your website traffic by user device. Google Analytics for example has pre-defined segments for mobile and tablet traffic out-of-the-box, so its never been easier to apply these segments and to start looking at the individual reports for insights.
With the CSS customised separately for phones, tablets and desktops, we’re able to have a lot of freedom in the types of elements and their style on the three different platforms. Often on a mobile device, the layout will change considerably. One typical example that’s quite common at the moment and is also a feature on this site, is for right-hand panel options on desktop to be pushed to the bottom of the page on smart phones. There’s also the option to hide things from mobile and tablet that would normally be visible on a desktop. This then raises the question of whether said element is even needed in the first place!
One example of a conversion insight I picked up from analytics was that upon segmenting users on mobile devices, I noticed that a larger proportion of these users were using the site search function of the website. This percentage of users was significantly higher than that of desktop users which seemed unusual. On closer inspection, the majority of these mobile users were entering blank search queries in the site search which meant two things to me: 1) They were pressing the search button by accident on their mobile devices. 2) They were from foreign markets and therefore could see the button ‘search’ and just pressed it anyway. If they couldn’t find what they were looking for on the site then they would have actually entered a keyword query into the site search and would have ended up with a results page.
I decided that having a site search on the top of the page on mobile to too overpowering and un-intuitive for the user, so I made a request to the development team to edit the CSS for mobile, and move the site search functionality to the bottom of the page and shift a contact call to action (CTA) above the fold to take the site search’s previous position. Since that change was made, the conversion rate for this goal has increased by 47%. The total mobile conversion rate for all analytics goals since making the change has also increased by 23%. Whilst this change was made, the rest of the site remained exactly the same, so the change had no negative consequences elsewhere for other devices and users.
Responsive Conversion Conclusion:
So I’ve only thrown one example into this post to show the benefit of responsive sites for conversion, and in all honesty, I haven’t had much time to dig deeper into the data to start improving other types of conversions. I also have yet to isolate tablet traffic to see if there’s any improvements that can be made to improve the ROI there also.
If I had the time, I’d start to look at the user journeys of the mobile and tablet traffic, beyond the site search and to start to drill to page level on mobile, to see areas of site weakness, also, I’d look at areas of the conversion funnel which look different to the standard desktop traffic and see if work can be done there as well.
There is of course a caveat which is making these changes to a site that’s responsive, which is that requests will need to be made to the web development resource, which of course takes time and costs the business money. My suggestion would be to build a suitable business case to present to stakeholders and leverage the data to its full potential as well as be confident that there will be a ROI for the business after the work has been competed.
Finally, on the subject of ROI, my final selling point for responsive is that a good responsive site will be able to maximise the ROI from mobile traffic. From an online marketing perspective, mobile advertising is (at present) less saturated than desktop. I’m thinking along the lines primarily of PPC, but if you can pay less for your advertising clicks, yet conversion on mobile is still working well, then the ROI on mobile, particularly for PPC will be significantly improved when compared with desktop traffic and paid campaigns.
Has anyone also made breakthrough’s for conversion with a responsive website, or does anyone prefer driving users to mobile apps and a mobile specific domain? I’d love to get some other opinions and views below in the comments!