With smartphone penetration rates surging around the world, it’s no surprise that more and more companies are deciding that their mobile strategies need to the development of a web experience specifically for mobiles.

Developing a mobile website can be an important first step in capitalizing on the mobile opportunity, but simply launching a mobile website obviously isn’t enough. As with websites in general, most businesses want their mobile websites to drive action or, in other words, convert.

In an article on ClickZ, SiteTuners.com CEO Tim Ash discusses the issue of conversions in the context of mobile websites. He suggests:

  • Avoiding the assumption that mobile users will exhibit the same browsing behaviors and patterns as their desktop counterparts.
  • Keeping things simple and eliminating interface elements that may impede usability.
  • Focusing on designing for the mobile form factor, where vertical scrolling is expected and horizontal scrolling may not be.
  • Making sure you’re supporting a good mobile experience with the right functionality (eg. mobile detection and redirection).
  • Supporting mobile-specific calls-to-action with features like click-to-call.
  • Implementing a continuous testing cycle to ensure that your site looks good on new mobile devices.

All of these are solid recommendations that more and more companies will want to follow to maximize mobile website ROI. Beyond the basics, however, there are three key areas where mobile conversions can be greatly affected in positive ways:

Recognize the importance of performance.

For obvious reasons, performance is really, really important in a mobile environment. Mobile users increasingly expect their mobile browsing to be as performant as their desktop browsing and the correlation between performance and conversions on mobile is well-established.

That means it’s impossible to maximize conversions on your mobile website without maximizing the performance of your mobile website. To be sure, there’s a lot that can’t be controlled, which means that minding what can be controlled, such as page and image sizes, is extremely important.

Get to know your mobile users with analytics.

As Ash notes, “The absolute worst thing you can do when creating your mobile site is to assume that people will visit the same pages and try to navigate the site in the same way they do when sitting at a computer.” Obviously, when developing a mobile version of your website, you need to make some assumptions about what needs to be included in your mobile assumptions. These assumptions can be informed by your existing analytics.

But analytics can play a key role in refining your mobile experience too. By looking in detail at how users are interacting with your site on different mobile browsers and devices, you can gain deeper insight into what your mobile users really want and need.

Extend multivariate testing to your mobile site.

It should go without saying that there’s no reason multivariate testing can’t be applied to a mobile website. And in many if not most cases, it should be given the fact that even the most minor details can have a dramatic effect on conversions in a mobile environment.