Oct 23 2012

Using Data to Evaluate the Need for a Mobile Site

If you are wondering whether or not you need a mobile site, there are a few numbers you need to take into consideration. First, according to a study by Internet Retailer, total mobile purchases will add up to $10 billion by the end of 2012. By 2016, that number is expected to reach $31 billion, a number that doesn’t even include tablets. Second, another study by comScore found that “[mobile devices] accounted for a combined 13.3 percent of total internet page views in August 2012, nearly doubling their share of traffic in just one year.” Then again, those are just industry statistics that may or may not have anything to do with you. That brings us to the third set of numbers, your numbers. This article will show you how to use the data from your analytics account to determine whether or not a mobile site is appropriate for your eCommerce store.

mobile sales will grow to 31 billion in 2014

Before we get to the number crunching, it’s important to understand the different areas you will need to improve and how those improvements could bring up your conversion rate. If you optimize your website for mobile devices, it will increase your conversion rate, which equals more revenue. If you don’t, you are leaving money on the table because you are already getting mobile traffic.

The Difficulties of Shopping on a Mobile Device

First, it’s important to recognize the difficulties facing mobile users and come up with ways that combat those difficulties. These problems facing your customers will ultimately become your problems financially. At Blue Acorn, we recognize five major complications that arise with mobile shopping:

1. A Smaller Screen

Since visitors are experiencing your site on a smaller screen, you need a custom mobile design that makes text easier to read, images load faster, and both elements fit better.

2. Slower Device Performance

Speaking of images that load faster, you’re entire site needs to be optimized for speed. It’s important to take into account that mobile shoppers are not on a Wi-Fi all the time. Cellular data connections – though improving – are much slower.

3. No Mouse or Physical Keyboard – Input Obstacles

Because mobile users are on their phones, they don’t have the precision of a mouse. Your mobile site must have a finger-friendly design. That means wide buttons for wide fingers.

4. Lack of Support For All Web Technologies (i.e. Flash, rich media)

Most mobile devices don’t support Flash or other rich media. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid Flash completely and any type of files that require plugins to work.

5. Checkout and Payment Methods

Checkout and payment methods are one of the most difficult areas of building a mobile site, but they also offer the most room for conversion growth if implemented properly. There are many ways to optimize your site for mobile payments. You can make it easier for customers to enter in their credit card number if you program your site to bring up their numbers-only keyboard when they press the credit card field. We’ve seen many instances where the entry fields themselves are too small to read or press, so you’ll want to make these larger and more finger friendly.

On top of designing and developing a solid checkout experience, you have to consider payment options. Presently, the most legitimate mobile solution for payments is Paypal Express. By including Paypal on your site, you’re almost guaranteed to give your mobile conversions a bump.

Finding the eCommerce Conversion Rate in Google Analytics

To better understand what you can expect from a mobile site, you should use Google Analytics to compare mobile vs. non-mobile KPIs.

To access the mobile information in Google Analytics, simply go to Audience, located on the left-hand side of the Google Analytics dashboard. Then choose Mobile and navigate to Overview. After that, click your eCommerce tab and you will see the mobile eCommerce conversion rate and average order value (AOV) on the right hand side below the graph. Keep in mind that you will need to have set up eCommerce Tracking to see the conversion rate.

It’s best that you look at data over a 12 month period if possible. This will account for any seasonality in your data. If you cannot look at your data over the last 12 months, look for the longest time period that is accessible and annualize the data to forecast revenue for one year of mobile traffic.

how to use analytics to see conversion rate

The Revenue Formula

Theres an easy formula to help you compare revenue now to what revenue could be with a higher conversion rate. To find out how much revenue you’ll receive, multiply the number of mobile visitors you receive by the conversion rate and the AOV. The basic formula looks like this:

You can then substitute different conversion rates to determine the potential revenue increases that you would see with a mobile site that converts better. Some people like to use the conversion rate they see from their desktop customers to decide if the difference in revenue is equal to or greater than the development cost, but you can try all kinds of different conversion rates and AOVs.

For starters, you can use rates from SEOmoz and from Internet Retailer who found that average smartphone conversion rates tend to be around 00.8 to 1.00%, which is less than half that of desktops. If you want to test for tablets you can use the average tablet conversion rate, which is around 2.3%, only a few points below desktops. Meanwhile, when making your calculation, make sure you use the mobile AOV you find on Google Analytics and not the site wide AOV because it tends to be around 20% less.

Use the following formula to find out the minimum conversion rate you need to break even on development.

A Note on Tablets

Overall, conversion rates are generally lower for mobile devices, but one study we found by eConsultancy, showed that iPads and tablets have even higher conversion rates than desktops. One of the reasons tablets convert higher than smartphones is because the user experience on a tablet is closer to desktop computers. More importantly, the reason why tablets can convert even better than desktops is that tablets, especially iPads, are luxury items owned by affluent people. That said, as long as you are checking your mobile devices on Google Analytics, you may as well check to see how your site is performing on tablets. If you find that your iPad conversion rates are lower than site average, that most likely indicates an area for improvement.

To see your iPad conversion rate, simply click devices in the left hand navigation, and create an advanced filter to show only devices containing “iPad.”

If you think that tablets only make up a miniscule amount of the market, think again. One in four smartphone owners use a tablet. That makes them an important part of your customer base.

Decide What’s Right For You

Mobile Commerce will only continue to grow. Creating a mobile site may prove smart but only if it financially makes sense. If you can’t afford the development time, then small changes to the design may be your best option. Whatever you do, it’s important you do it now. According to a study by eMarketer, 21% of online purchasers plan to holiday shop on a mobile device. That number is almost twice last years. If you want to see some of that revenue, you’ll need to start developing today.

Matt Rickerby

Matt began his career in ecommerce at Blue Acorn over seven years ago. His areas of expertise include persona development, account-based marketing, and content marketing. He has co-written speaking sessions for Bronto Summit, DIG South, GIANT, and Revolve, and received multiple awards for videography, blogging, and copywriting.

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