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GUEST COMMENT Why mobile conversion rates are terrible

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It’s a fact that mobile conversion rates from mobile devices are roughly half what you typically see from desktop users. It’s also a fact that mobile is now the dominant device for online shopping – and the shift to mobile, away from desktop and tablet, continues apace.

It’s a fair guess, then, that – if you work in online retail – your mobile conversion rates will be terrible. And that fixing them is a priority.

The first step is to understand why, and that boils down to understanding how users behave when shopping via a mobile device. Over the last few months, we’ve carried out our biggest ever research programme – and the aim was to observe and analyse mobile user behaviour in detail.

Mobile conversion rates: the research

We tested over 40 sites from a wide range of brands and retailers across 6 countries with more than 50 real users in our UX labs. We completed extensive journey analyses, analytics benchmarking exercises and heuristic reviews.

We’ve never done anything on this scale before and the results were quite a surprise. Mobile users behaved in a totally unexpected way, and a way that was consistent regardless of context and type of retailer. Mobile users are shockingly single-minded about getting to product. Anything that gets in the way is a ‘conversion killer’.

That led us to a number of conclusions – for one thing we now think quite differently about designing mobile experiences. But it also enabled us to identify seven priority fixes for a great many existing responsive sites – issues we’ve called mobile conversion killers.

Mobile conversion rate killers: seven user frustrations

In the words of our test users:

1. “Make it easy to find my way around.” Shoppers don’t want to play ‘find the needle’, scouring menus for products that should be easy to find, or using ineffective search. And they won’t. They’ll go elsewhere.

2. “Brand content? No! Just show me the product.” Any content that is not part of the shortest possible route to product is at best invisible, at worst annoying, unless it’s directly relevant to the user’s shopping mission

3. “These filters don’t work for me.” Users spend a lot of time using filters to narrow down PLP selections. It’s not always as easy as it should be and this can be a source of considerable user frustration

4. “I’m not reading a product details essay.” Users are happy to invest time on PDPs, but big blocks of copy are overwhelming and get skipped – break copy up and bring PDPs to life with images and icons.

5. “Why can’t I just pinch to zoom?” There is a huge amount of interest in product images, but Image galleries that don’t support native smartphone gestures are a big turn off

6. “Please can I just give you my money???” So many issues derail the the journey from basket to checkout – and there are simple solutions

7. “This site is just infuriating. I’m leaving.” Then there are the seemingly minor issues that add up to a terrible user experience – pop-ups and overlays that are hard to close, slow page load times and UIs that don’t work for touch…

Fixing all these issues is of course far from straightforward, but doing so will not only deliver a significantly improved experience for your customers, but also deliver a step-change in revenue as your mobile conversion improves.

Steve Borges is co-founder of Biglight

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