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What You Can Learn About Mobile Marketing from Today’s Top Retailers

Venturing out into the bold world of mobile apps and marketing is a lot like the early days of the internet. Whoever gets there first gets to stake their claim to the largest share of visitors and orders – and those who lag behind often get passed over for their more tech-savvy counterparts.

The fact is, the world is catching on to mobile shopping, and in the U.K., more customers are doing their shopping by tablet than in-store. Rather than competing based on price alone, retailers have learned that offering the best possible mobile experience leads to higher conversions, more sales, and more repeat orders.

So what can we learn from the winners (and losers)? Read on to find out the latest mobile marketing conversion tips.

The Top Retailers’ Websites are Mobile-Responsive

In this world of app-hungry smartphones, you’d think that shopping online could be done more efficiently over an app – however, consumers don’t think so. In fact, according to a study by ZMags, only 4% of customers would prefer to browse online using an app on their phone or tablet, as opposed to 87% who would rather view a website on their computer:

customer shopping statistics online vs. offline

87% of customers still prefer to browse and discover products on their computers versus an app

The message is loud and clear: a mobile-responsive website gets far more attention than an app. It’s important to note that you should look for a theme or website design which is mobile-responsive rather than “mobile friendly” or “mobile optimized”. All the terms sound alike, but here’s what they typically involve, and how they differ:

  • Mobile Friendly – Sites that load equally well between mobile devices and PCs. Buttons and navigation, as well as images, tend to be much smaller and may not respond well to touch-screen style use.
  • Mobile Optimized – These are sites that are built to work exclusively with mobile devices. Essentially, the site will detect whether you’re using a computer or a mobile phone/tablet and load the appropriate pages. These typically include larger, touch-screen-friendly buttons and navigation and a reduced need for extensive typing.
  • Mobile Responsive – The ideal scenario. Mobile-responsive pages change their orientation based on the size of the user’s device – whether it’s a full-size screen or a small handheld. Essentially, it combines the best of both mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized practices to create a page that works well for any situation.

Lessons Learned from Apple, Best Buy and Kohls: Make Your Customer’s Experience Memorable

According to a study by Mobiquity, three of the top mobile website retailers – Apple, Best Buy and Kohls, lead the pack in terms of customer shopping satisfaction – and there are several threads that each of these sites has in common with regards to their mobile strategies:

khols example

Best Buy, Apple and Kohls consistently receive high marks when it comes to browsing and buying on mobile phones

For one thing, each mobile page loads quickly and efficiently – a major make-or-break function for people with limited data plans. But a fast loading page isn’t the only factor. For example, Apple’s mobile experience allows you to browse, buy and customize your product on-the-fly, while Best Buy lets you check out ratings and compare products directly from their device-friendly site.

It’s important to note that the Mobiquity study also found that as many as 43% of shoppers would be less likely to shop at a retailer after a poor mobile experience. 65% of smartphone-shopping customers felt that the load time for mobile sites was too slow, and as many as 39% noted that navigation was a problem for them.

The key message here is to keep it simple, clear and focused. Remove the clutter, optimize loading times and leave out the superfluous stuff that customers don’t need or want.

Lessons Learned from 1-800-FLOWERS and Comcast: Don’t Neglect the Click-to-Call

Don’t forget the “phone” in smartphone. Click-to-call is an extremely helpful feature to have. According to a Google study from 2011, 61% of users take advantage of click-to-call after searching for a local business. 1-800 FLOWERS and Comcast also saw a boost from using click-to-call – up to a 270% increase in click through rates.

click to call for better conversions

For some retailers, a click-to-call feature resulted in 270% higher click through rates

Fortunately, adding click-to-call to your own website is incredibly simple and is done in much the same way as a regular hyperlink. The “tel” schema, as it’s known, works on a wide range of mobile devices, including Android, Safari on iOS, Symbian, Internet Explorer, Opera Mini and more.

The Highest Converting Mobile Retailers Optimize Their Forms

Remember, when optimizing for the mobile market, you have to strip away all the excess stuff or risk losing the sale altogether. This is critically important for your website forms. Reduce the need to constantly type in things, and keep your form fields short and to-the-point, ideally 3 fields or less for best results. Many companies and web service firms, such as FormSite and Constant Contact, already include the option for mobile-ready forms that automatically resize to fit the user’s screen.

You can also take advantage of HTML 5’s new form input types to customize your forms specifically for mobile users:

html5 new form input types

Examples of telephone and URL fields customized with HTML 5 input types

The bottom line with mobile marketing and conversion rates is a lot like optimizing normal websites – customers want fast, simple and effective. With more and more digital devices coming online and millions of sites and ads clamoring for our attention, the sites that take the time to streamline, track, test and measure their results will come out the winners – whether customers are accessing their page on a laptop, or a toaster.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversions with user-friendly design and compelling copywriting. Like this article? Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up at

  1. Richard E Furlong Dec 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

    good advice. thank you

  2. Most of your advice was good.

    I do disagree with one assumption. In fact, I did a split test recently on this subject. Mobile responsive is not better than mobile optimized. With a separate mobile optimized page, you can add different content (such as phone CTAs) and make a lighter page.

    Processing speeds on mobile phones can often be slower than desktops so you might want to exclude JQuery and other scripts dynamically.

    Additionally, on the desktop side, some older browsers don’t work with responsive designs. Run your responsive design on a site like BrowserShots to prove it.

    After saying all that, a dynamic page in combination with responsive may prove better — only if the above differences are taken into account dynamically.

    • Hi Guest,

      You can do that with a mobile responsive page too with the “tel” HTML syntax. Yes, it does make for a lighter page, but it reminds me a lot of the times when people had to design different versions of a site for separate browsers. For the moment, I believe mobile responsive, although heavier and more work/cost, might be the best of both worlds. Still, it depends a lot on your market, and I’m glad you tested it to see which results came out better for you.

      You’re absolutely right about server side scripts and slow processing speeds of different devices, although smartphones and tablets are catching up to desktops faster than I think anyone anticipated. It will be interesting to see where it takes us!

      • Thanks Sherice for taking the time to respond.

        I’ve found there to be a lower cost/work for mobile optimized than simply mobile responsive, but work/cost is not the main concern.

        The conversion lift… is really all that matters. So, have your split-tested the two to find out which really brings in the most amount of sales?

  3. I am agree with your all advices and its very helpful for me and useful for the new mobile marketers who wants to more famous in top retail maketer.

  4. hey sherice!
    over all nice advices. i was a little bit confused about mobile responsive and mobile optimized. but now all is clear. it’s just because of you. thank you for sharing.

  5. Great tips on web design, particularly making sure that they are mobile-friendly and don’t demand too much from mobile visitors, such as too many fields on forms. Doing these things is very simple and inexpensive, too. And especially if your site is not mobile-friendly, it can and will chase your mobile customers away.

  6. With the smartphone prevailing, we can see mobile responsive everywhere.
    Everyone can see the influence of that. This is never forgotten.
    Lydia from Witmart(Best crowdsourcing solution)

  7. Excellent lessons !
    I think that Mobile marketing is going to be one of the biggest method to earn online !

  8. Nice read. I just wanted to add that even though “87% who would rather view a website on their computer” 87% will not view a website on their computer so we have to face the reality of what people would rather do and what they are doing.

  9. I have learn more from your post more About Mobile Marketing.
    It was useful and impressive.

  10. Your article is incorrect. Apple do not have a mobile site. The example you show is of their native app not a mobile responsive site not even a mobile optimized site.

    It is therefore difficult to believe the data, chart, and report referenced in this article are credible.

    Please explain as this is clearly leading your readers into erroneous thinking.

    The debate is very alive between developing native applications versus HTML5 mobile responsive sites or web apps. The data you show here and the subsequent explanations would suggest that native is not the right approach, yet the example you show are native applications (i.e. that bottom 4%).

  11. You must have a lot of pride in writing quality content. I’m impressed with the amount of solid information you have written in your article. I hope to read more.


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