A recent eMarketer study reinforces what all business-owners know — customers are not only spending more and more time on their smartphones, but they’re spending more and more money on their smartphones as well.  This is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses — a study on mobile SMB revenue conducted by the firm Hibu projects a 630% growth in mobile SMB transactions next year.

Mobile purchases used to primarily consist of MP3s and other digital goods; however, smartphones are now being used for purchases across all categories and are even driving offline shopping. The prevalence of mobile devices and the surge in both eCommerce sales and smartphone-driven offline sales presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to expand the relationship with customers and extend the path to purchase conversion in entirely new ways.

Retailers can maximize sales from mobile by focusing on two major areas:

–       Optimizing Mobile Commerce Websites
–       Integrating Mobile Into Existing User Experiences

Here are some tips and best practices to help meet mobile shopper expectations.  See how you can take advantage of their likeliness to use phones and drive purchases through your business.


Optimize Your Mobile Commerce Website
According to the Hibu study, U.S. SMBs with websites that aren’t mobile-optimized believe their revenue would increase by more than $60,000 per year if they upgraded.

In 2016 eMarketer expects one in four eCommerce sales will come from mobile devices and, in 2017, eCommerce sales will top the $100 billion mark.


Source: eMarketer

A poor mobile experience will not only risk a share of that 100 Billion in sales, but it will also eliminate any chance of referral business.  According to Google’s Mobile Playbook, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poor mobile site.

What can a small business do to generate the most revenue from a mobile website?

 –       Consider a Mobile Website Builder

Tight on resources and tight on time but need to get your mobile website up and running? Look into using a Mobile Website Builder.

Online website building services enable small businesses to quickly create a mobile (or desktop) website using off the shelf templates or even custom designs. It can be as easy as adding a logo, choosing your colors, and inputting content. It’s a great way to get your foot in the mobile-door without a huge investment.

Website builder resources worth checking out include: Wix, dudamobile, SquareSpace and many others. Many of those same resources feature tools to help optimize your website for organic search. See Wix’s SEO Wizard Tool.

 –      Keep the Content Scanable and Findable

Do you enjoy reading through pages and pages of content to find what you’re looking for on your phone? Neither do your customers.

Mobile users have high purchase intent.  A recent Google study on “Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior” found that 18% of local searches on a smartphone lead to a purchase within a day. But that intent to purchase will only result in a sale if users can easily find what they want on your mobile site.

Here are some tactics to keep in mind:

 –       Make sure the homepage quickly provides a high-level overview of your services and products before bombarding a visitor with category listings or conversion forms.

–       Have a purpose for each image on your website, and avoid clutter by mapping out a clear eye-path to your Call-to-Action (ex. Buy Now, Add to Cart, Call Now, etc.)

–       Clearly display navigation elements and first-tier product categories. Don’t make potential customers dig into dropdowns to find what you’re trying to sell.

–       Do collapse “optional” content into expandable drawers. Text is great, but giving a customer the option to choose what to read and what not to read is even better.

 –       Streamline the Checkout Process

Getting mobile customers to the checkout screen is only half-the-battle. A 2013 Jumio Mobile Consumer Insights Survey reported that problems during the payment process have forced two-thirds of sampled mobile shoppers to abandon their transactions. Nearly half dropped off because the checkout process took too long and 41% said the checkout was too difficult on their device.

How can you make checkout as quick and easy as possible?

–       Include logins for returning customers or Facebook social logins to prevent their having to repeatedly enter contact information.

–       Provide alternate payment options like PayPal to allow for the automatic entering of payment details.

–       Keep “fat fingers” in mind by spacing out buttons and clickable elements.

–       Include trust-indicators, such as lock icons and “your information is safe” text, near CTAs to alleviate any lingering security concerns.

–       Make it Fast

According to the Aberdeen Group, even a one second delay in mobile page load time equals a 7% loss in conversion. You have a limited window to engage and capture your audience — the best way to do that is to make sure your website is optimized to be as fast as possible.

Simple ways to keep it fast can include reducing the amount of content on pages and talking to your website hosting company about increasing your server capacity. But for more advanced techniques we recommend you reach out to a website development resource.


Mobile ≠ Online-Only

Not too long ago, mobile sales were primarily relegated to online purchases of digital merchandise — mp3s, ebooks, online subscriptions, games, etc. But mobile users have expanded their online purchasing to additional verticals and are using phones to drive offline sales.

According to eMarketer’s 2014 “Mobile Commerce Deep Dive” report, data from IBM’s Analytics Benchmarks study demonstrated a significant growth in mobile sales across a number of retail categories:

–       Department stores – 49.6% growth in mobile sales

–       Health and Beauty – 81.7% growth in mobile sales

–       Home Goods – 38% growth in mobile sales

–       Apparel – 54.5% growth in mobile sales

 And a 2013 study by ad network xAD reports that 77% of smartphone-related purchases were completed offline.


Source: xAd

Smart retailers can leverage this new reality by integrating their online and offline efforts and treating mobile as an extension of the existing user experience.

 –       Click to Call

Believe it or not, people still use their phones to make calls. Google reports that 70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from Search results, and 72% of click-to-call conversations lasted longer than 30 seconds.

If you have the infrastructure to support in-bound calls, incorporate click-to-call CTAs throughout your mobile advertising and on your mobile website to make placing that call as easy as the click of a button.

 –       Drive to Store with GPS and Ordering Ahead

Using mobile to drive foot traffic to you store may sound complicated, but the tools to make this happen are already baked into your customers’ smartphones. Retailers with mobile websites should enable GPS store finders on their sites that allow customers to browse online, but easily find the nearest physical location too.

If long lines and wait times at a location are a turn-off to customers, enable them to order ahead of time on your mobile website and have their purchases ready for them to pick up when they walk in your door. Apps like OrderAhead are helping businesses quickly leverage this functionality and create a convenient way for customers to skip the line and have a quicker and easier on-site experience.

–       Get Competitive with Geo-Conquesting

Another great method of driving people into your store (and away from your competitors) is to place geo-targeted ads near your competitors’ locations — a practice known as geo-conquesting. Geo-conquesting enables businesses to place mobile ads that appear on users’ smartphones whenever they are within a pre-determined radius of a competitor’s location.

 Categories of all types are experiencing success with this tactic:


Source: xAd

 –       Think Local with SEM

A mobile strategy isn’t complete without a Search Engine Marketing component. An SEM campaign is essential for driving online traffic to your website as well as driving foot traffic into your store. According to Google, 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day.

And customers can be influenced to make a purchase in a store if they know you’re nearby — 72% of consumers would buy in-store rather on-line if they are within 5 miles of your location.

Thinking local by fine-tuning bids for specific areas like cities or zips and ensuring your address and directions appear in your ads can go a long way towards driving the motivated customer into your store.

–       Use Mobile Coupons

The mobile coupon is one of the most effective tools at driving both online and offline purchasing activity.

eMarketer forecasts that more than 70% of US coupon users will redeem a coupon via a mobile device in 2014 and by 2016 mobile coupon users will represent nearly 83% of all digital coupon users.


Discounts and special offers are a tried-and-true marketing tactic. Having mobile coupons as part of your mobile marketing arsenal is a great way to use this long-time best practice to leverage customers’ growing tendency to use their phone to drive their purchase decisions.

–       Maintain a Consistent Voice

Every consumer touchpoint is another piece of a conversation between you and your customer. Keeping that conversation consistent across all of your marketing channels — from in-store signage, to your advertising, to your desktop website and mobile website — will enable you to continuously build upon the messaging from previous channels and avoid any disconnect as customers toggle between devices.

–       Measure and Attribute

90% of multiple device owners switch between screens before completing a task using an average of three different combinations every day, according to Google.

Typical conversion models are based on a last click model, attributing each sale to the channel the user came from immediately prior to converting, but only looking at the last click doesn’t take into account the customer’s journey towards conversion.

For example, in the sample Conversion Path graphic below, there are several instances when paid search drove the initial contact with the visitor, but the ultimate sale conversion actually happens after several further consumer actions.


If we only looked at the last click, Paid Search wouldn’t receive credit for any of these sales.

It is incredibly important to look beyond the last click, and implement a tracking and measurement model that attributes the appropriate credit to each channel and device that played a part in guiding the consumer through the purchase funnel.


Summing Up

Driving mobile purchases and using smartphones to drive in-store traffic should be a goal of any smart retailer, but the real objective should be to understand your customers’ expectations of you in mobile and develop strategies and employ tactics to meet and exceed those expectations. It’s at that point that you’ll be able to truly maximize your mobile sales.


About the Author

Jeff Fogliano is Managing Director of Digital Strategies at Wilson RMS, a modern acquisition agency integrating digital, mobile, social and direct. Throughout his career, Jeff has used his unique blend of analytical thinking, curiosity, technological expertise and humor to craft digital strategies and lead interactive initiatives for a wide range of Fortune 500 companies.


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