If you own a business with a web presence, you’ve likely heard people dragging on and on about mobile responsive websites. They make it seem that if you don't have one, well, then you're business is doomed.
Many business owners shell out a pretty penny to upgrade their sites without seeing a real uptick in sales. They then falsely come to the conclusion that their business just doesn't drive sales using their websites. They fall back on tried and true sales techniques of yesteryears and slowly, but surely, their business gets eaten by younger, more tech-savvy competition.
That's because mobile responsive websites don't increase sales, mobile optimized websites do.
If you’re not exactly sure of the difference, let me explain. A mobile responsive website exists as both a desktop and mobile website at the same time.
The website “responds” to whatever device is requesting the page. So if an iPhone user requests the site, it delivers the mobile version. Macbook users get the desktop version.
So, Mobile Responsive sites are a good thing, right?
Well, mobile is big business. The U.S. alone has over 200 million smartphone users. That’s a lot of eyes that companies are looking to capture.
Google’s push for mobile compliance also gives companies some pretty seriously incentive to go mobile.
Not only did the company’s Possum update make mobile search integral to their algorithm, but since 2015 the search giant has claimed more than half of searches take place on mobile devices.
Those search numbers alone are all you’d need to jump on the mobile bandwagon, and yet the incentive runs even deeper.
- 94 percent of smartphone users search for location information
- 51 percent visited the store after their search
- 48 percent called the store
- 29 percent made a purchase
Other independent data verifies these results. An astounding 80 percent of mobile searches are found to convert. With those odds, it’s practically required to maintain some form of a mobile website.
The high rate of mobile adoption and the resulting Ecommerce dependence on mobile platforms has set the stage for the mobile responsive shakedown by web design companies and developers. I'm sure by now you've received several emails claiming that if you are business website is not mobile responsive, you are losing sales.
But Are you?
There's a big difference between a mobile responsive site and a mobile optimized site.
Mobile responsive sites do nothing to adapt to the mobile user experience. In fact, many call-to-actions automatically shift to the bottom of the page and thereby out of sight. Menus are responsive but long and cumbersome. Fanciful sliders take an immense amount of time to load, and mouse over hover states are lost completely, confusing mobile users on what to click next.
A mobile optimized website, however, keeps the user experience of mobile in mind. Mobile Optimized Websites are optimized for speed, ease of use and mobile browsing behavior.
We’re here to argue the case for mobile optimized websites because a mobile optimized site absolutely increases sales.
Mobile Responsive vs. Mobile Optimized Websites
Round 1: Design Aspects
The main difference between mobile responsive and mobile optimized websites is design. While mobile responsive websites have shifting designs, this works great in theory, but not so much in practice.
Have you ever visited a mobile website where pictures were blocking text? Words overhanging off the page? The menu tabs opened but covered the entire screen?
That website was a mobile responsive website.
Often during the “transition” from desktop to mobile, responsive websites lose their design features and add a lot of user friction. Pictures are the most common cause, as they don’t like to scale resolution based on web format and large images slow down a website's ability to load quickly.
Mobile optimized websites take steps to remove friction for the user. Pictures are sized appropriately, menus are streamlined, and text increases for easier readability.
No matter what mobile device you visit them on, it will always look as if they are intended for that device. Pages are kept simple, which incidentally, is what the consumer wants.
Research has shown that simple websites increase customer engagement. More research, this time by Google, revealed that 79 percent of consumers would leave a site they don’t “like".
The takeaway here is that risking poor design resulting from a mobile responsive website could cost you sales. Plain and simple, people don’t respond to poor web layout.
Round 2: Speed
Just because your site is mobile responsive doesn't mean it's fast.
Optimizing your site speed is a sure way to optimize for mobile, where users are on the go and data networks can be slow. Speed typically boosts visitor engagement, retention and conversions.
Out of 29% of users who immediately switched to another site, 70% of them did so because the site was taking too long to load.
How Long Is Too Long?
40% of shoppers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site.
In fact, a 1-second delay in page load time yields:
- 11% fewer page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
- 7% loss in conversions (Source: Aberdeen Group)
To meet these high expectations, it takes more than a mobile responsive site; you need to keep your technical backend up to snuff.
Check out Google's PageSpeed Insights tool to rate your site's load time and generate custom recommendations to increase your site's speed.
Did your mobile responsive site get a passing grade?
Round 3: Target Users Context & Intent
Your target demographic and what they are doing in the moment they are searching matters immensely to converting users on mobile.
Mobile optimized websites help users complete their tasks and make it easy to move a user down the buyer's path. Mobile responsive websites, just show the same desktop information sized to mobile without regard to what the user is trying to accomplish on your site.
There’s a universal instinct to oversimplify responsive mobile sites, to make them desktop lite. Whatever couldn't fit into the mobile responsive design gets scrapped. Mobile optimized sites listen to the different needs of their users, gathers signals of intent to understand where they are in the buyer's journey and serves the correct, most valuable content accordingly.
Understanding the nature of your conversion-focused tasks, such as browsing possible solutions, researching products, booking a reservation, and researching plans and prices, among other tasks, will allow you to guide your prospective customer through their path of purchase with the least amount of friction possible.
Take Fiat, for example. After a 28 year hiatus, automaker FIAT returned to the American market. The company used Adwords to drive traffic to their site. On desktop, FIAT's ads took people to its online car configurator. (The FIAT 500 was available in a half-million color combinations, and customizing it was part of the fun.) On mobile, the ads pointed people to the nearest dealership, where they could see and buy the car in person.
Or take Sephora, for example. The company learned that most of their clients were looking for reviews of the products they had in their hands, or trying to remember which shade of makeup they’d bought last time, while they were in the store. With these needs-based insights in hand, Sephora developed a mobile website specifically to serve shoppers in those moments.
So, there you have it. Three rounds and three victories for mobile optimized websites.
It’s not that mobile responsive websites are a poor choice, but rather that mobile optimized websites result in a better experience for your potential customer. A better experience with your brand builds a stronger brand affinity, and a stronger brand affinity leads to increased sales.
If your mobile website is lacking, get in contact with our team. We specialize in building mobile-optimized sites for all manner of businesses.
We’re also happy to walk you through your digital marketing options, so your mobile platform helps maximize your sales.