Smaller screens, limited functionality, lagging conversion rates… these are all reasons digital marketers and web teams attribute mobile with the position of the poor cousin of desktop. But it’s a big mistake to do so.

Whether you are just starting out on your mobile strategy or you have had one in place for a while, one thing that we know is that mobile is growing fast. And this means you will need an approach to optimisation. 

Yet as recently as November 2011, research found 70% of companies have yet to launch an optimised mobile site. Considering that 59% of UK consumers own a smartphone and 19% of those have shopped online using a mobile web browser, the growing influence of mobile on the shopping experience should not be ignored.

Your mobile customers are the same as your desktop customers

Your approach to mobile can actually be quite simple: stop focussing on the limitations of mobile devices and focus on the new opportunities that mobile can bring to your online business.

Critically, these opportunities will only be fully realised when mobile is integrated into your overall customer experience optimisation and not treated separately. For your desktop website, it is likely you are focusing on optimising both transactions and customer relationships, improving conversions and building brand loyalty. This should not be any different for a mobile site.

Consumers will increasingly expect the relationship they have developed with your brand through your desktop site to carry straight over to mobile. So this means delivering the same level of service and quality experience when they interact via their smartphone as you do if they access your site on their laptop or desktop computer.

The technicalities

With the technology available to optimise your mobile presence, the perceived limitations of mobile do not need to be a barrier. No doubt the topics of mobile load times, network latency and device performance will be raised but they should not be a concern in an optimisation context.

Of course, testing and optimisation on your mobile site needs to be appropriate to that platform, for example, injecting a whole lot of new content onto a page would take far too long. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be sophisticated. The technology is lightweight, which means your mobile optimisation doesn’t have to be.

Our own multivariate testing solutions are designed to be light even in their web iterations, as they are based on a single line of JavaScript. That said, the design of the tests is fundamentally important too, as you will be delivering alternative content to the mobile browser, which is just as likely to cause latency as the integration.

Optimise by mode

I mentioned that mobile can bring new opportunities and there is one significant difference between mobile and web platforms that can really work to your advantage – the ‘mode’ consumers are in when they use them.

People use their smartphones everywhere, at home, in the office, whilst shopping or travelling. And this is what makes mobile such a compelling channel for retailers. You can now speak to consumers at many different stages in the funnel, be they in buying mode, browsing mode or a post-sale mode.

If you are an airline or a tour operator, it may not be the booking that is made on mobile, but checking in and downloading an e-ticket. Similarly, if you are a retailer it may be someone checking product prices whilst in a high street shop. Sports betting sites may have users checking live odds whilst out and about to make sure they can make their bet at the best time.

We are currently working with a number of brands on their mobile optimisation strategy including, which views mobile as an important source of business growth. The first A/B test on their mobile site increased mobile bookings by over 7%. Whilst conversion rates are generally, (and not surprisingly) lower than on a typical desktop, mobile traffic is increasing exponentially and this offers more opportunity for sales.

But mobile optimisation is about much more than increasing traffic. It’s about tapping into changing consumer behaviour and the way that consumers use their mobile device, and meeting their expectation that brands can provide a seamless, consistent experience across every platform and device.

There is no doubt that mobile has its challenges, but these are far outweighed by the value it offers. Make mobile an integral part of your customer experience optimisation strategy and open the door to new opportunities to speak to your customers at every stage of the sales funnel, drive loyalty and increase sales.