Over the past two years we have witnessed traffic through mobile devices increase from 2% to 19% of total network clicks.

If we exclude tablet devices from this equation, traffic through mobile handsets has grown from 1.8% to 11%. 

With consumers increasingly using mobile devices to access the internet, it becomes of paramount importance to ensure that the mobile user journey is optimised for this experience.

Looking at retailers’ data across a number of sectors it has been possible to see the impact of a site that has been fully optimised for mobile on conversion rates.

With a seamless process in place, it is easier for the mobile visitor to interact with the site; searching for and viewing products is made more intuitive and it is simple for the visitor to add products to their basket and ultimately check out to complete the transaction.

A site that has not been optimised for mobile makes the customer journey a fiddly and frustrating process and almost always results in the visitor not completing a transaction.

They could return through a desktop to make the transaction but another possible scenario could be that they purchase from a competitor that does have a mobile optimised site in place.

By looking at retailers that operate within the same sector we’re able to see clear improvements in conversion rate when a mobile optimised site is launched.


Advertisers A and B both operate within the gift space. They have similar product offerings and both receive in excess of 10% of their traffic through the affiliate channel from mobile handsets.

Advertiser A has a fully optimised mobile experience while Advertiser B directs visitors through a mobile device to the standard desktop version of the site. As a result, Advertiser A experiences a much better conversion rate through mobile handsets – converting at 5.3%. As the customer journey through Advertiser B is not optimised for mobile, there is a higher drop off rate and conversions have suffered. Advertiser B by contrast only converts 1.3% of its mobile traffic.

Whilst there may be other factors in play (price competitiveness, delivery options etc.) there is a clear correlation between optimised and non-optimised for mobile in this particular sector.


We see a similar situation when comparing two of our advertisers within the retail sector that specialise in footwear. Again, the advertisers are very similar in their offering and receive a high proportion of their visitors through mobile handsets.

Advertiser C has a mobile optimised site in place whereas advertiser D again directs to the standard desktop version of the site.

With the ability to seamlessly browse products, add them to your basket and complete the transaction without any need for resizing the screen, Advertiser C has a conversion rate through mobile handsets of 3.2% whereas Advertiser D only converts at barely a third of the rate.


Finally we are able to look at two advertisers within the travel sector. They do not receive as high a proportion of traffic through mobile handsets as we have seen for the retailers that we have looked at, but around 5% of each of their traffic is originating from a mobile handset.

Again we can see the impact of an optimised user journey. Advertiser E has a mobile site in place and converts through mobile handsets at an impressive 5.8%.

Advertiser F does not have a site that is optimised for mobile and it is evident that travel has one of the lowest conversion rates through mobile handsets where an optimised site is not available – the conversion rate through mobile handsets through Advertiser F is only 0.8%.

In other words, for every 10,000 clicks, Advertiser E will record 500 more sales than Advertiser F. When this is multiplied by an average booking amount the numbers soon start to stack up.

As well as each of the advertisers with a mobile optimised site demonstrating superior conversion rates, we have also seen the average order values (AOV)increase when compared to transacting through a desktop version of the site.

Looking at an example of a large online retailer with a high street presence, AOV through the mobile optimised version of the site was 8.25% higher than when the visitor opted to view the desktop site through a mobile device.

If we break this down by the actual handset that was used to purchase, the iPhone demonstrated the most significant increase with a 22.7% higher AOV.

Similarly, when looking at the footwear advertiser mentioned above, the AOV when transacting through a mobile optimised version of the site was higher. This even outstripped the AOV that was seen when purchasing on a desktop with AOV 12% higher when purchasing through a mobile handset.

In summary

The impact of a mobile optimised user experience is clearly evident across a number of different sectors. Consumers that transact through a mobile optimised version of the site are not only more likely to convert, but when they do they are likely to spend more.

With an increasing number of consumers turning to their mobile handsets to access the internet and to actually purchase on these devices, advertisers need to fully embrace mobile commerce. It is also vital that affiliate tracking is added to any mobile optimised site.

Without this, sales through mobile devices will not track and advertisers will miss out on a number of opportunities that are available through the performance channel.

Matt Swan

Published 1 March, 2013 by Matt Swan

Matt Swan is Client Strategist at Affiliate Window and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (3)


D W, CEO at Sogar Investments


over 5 years ago

Peter O'Neill

Peter O'Neill, Founder & Lead Consultant at L3 Analytics

Hmm - I very very rarely encounter a website with a conversion rate over 5%, to have examples of two mobile websites that convert that highly appears an incredibly lucky coincidence.

But ignoring that, the true test of a mobile optimised website's performance is not the bare facts of it's conversion rate. Instead, the numbers required are how well the mobile website converts compared to the desktop version.

So a mobile website that converts at 5.3% against the desktop version that converts at 20.3% has not been optimised as well as the mobile website converting at 1.3% with the desktop website converting at 2.9%.

Matt - can you provide these comparisons so we can more accurately guage the impact of optimising the mobile versions of these websites?

Can you confirm these numbers too are for mobile/smart phones, excluding tablets (as the numbers generally differ significantly there as well).



over 5 years ago

Matt Swan

Matt Swan, Head of Business Intelligence at Affiliate Window

Hi Peter,

It is important to remember that these stats are based on sales through the affiliate channel. As we see through desktop, mobile is also dominated by incentivised traffic (the likes of Quidco, Topcashback, Vouchercodes.co.uk etc) so we would expect to see relatively high conversion rates across these advertisers.

The point of this piece was to indicate how it is more effective to convert visitors through mobile devices when presenting them with a mobile optimised version of the site as opposed to desktop – so the main comparison was the conversion when landing on an optimised version of the site, vs. a desktop version of the site for similar advertisers.

Admittedly the two that are converting at a higher rate through mobile are also converting at a higher rate through desktop but this is not as significant a difference as we are seeing through mobile. The gift advertiser that is converting at 5.3% through mobile is converting at 8% through desktop whereas the one that is not optimised for mobile is converting at 6% through desktop but only 1.29% through mobile.

These figures are just through mobile handsets. We split out tablet devices and report on these separately. We produce monthly updates on our mobile stats across the network (broken down by device) and you can see our January data here: http://blog.affiliatewindow.com/?p=31912 We also break down the conversion rates of each device. These stats include all of our advertisers though (around 1600) and will also include those that aren't optimised for mobile. Our February data will also be available shortly.


over 5 years ago

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