Considerations for your mobile website strategy - Factor 3

Considerations for your mobile website strategy

It sounds trite, but I have been saying this for several years now: businesses need to invest more in mobile to capitalise on it. At first, mobile-optimisation was most relevant to retail and B2C businesses, but increasingly B2B sectors are beginning to see the benefits.

Your mobile users might currently make up under 50% of your site traffic, but this percentage will continue to increase over the next few years. Your mobile users are probably more engaged than your desktop users too. One of our B2B clients already receives more visitors using mobiles than desktops at weekends.

Looking at your Google Analytics account (or getting an agency to do this for you) can give you huge insight to how your customers behave when they interact with your website, including which devices they use, what times they are most likely to engage, and a whole lot more.

If you have a consumer focus to your business or target more affluent people, then mobile is even more important. In fact, according to a BBC study:

  • 39 per cent of affluent consumers access the internet at least once per hour using their phones.
  • Mobile advertising is twice as effective as desktop in driving key brand metrics such as awareness, favourability and purchase intent amongst the total population.
  • This figure rises to four times as effective for affluent consumers.

The ‘Agile Consumer 2013’ survey of 1000 British Smartphone users, cited by The Drum uncovers these key facts:

  • M-commerce has grown by 62% in the last five years
  • Four in ten smartphone owners have bought something direct from their mobile phone
  • Average spend for these purchases was £199
  • 55% used their devices in-store, which included price comparisons, taking photos, and even ‘showrooming’ (buying the same product cheaper from elsewhere)

Despite this, an Econsultancy study in January 2013 found that only 14 of the top 20 UK retailers had a mobile-optimised website. Since the study was first published, and Thomas Cook have launched ‘dedicated’ mobile sites, while Thomson has adopted a ‘responsive’ mobile strategy, bringing the total to 17 out of 20. More on dedicated and responsive in the next sections.

So we know that Apple, Next and LoveFilm are yet to provide a proper mobile user interface however it’s not just retailers that are behind the curve. Neither Fujitsu, Mitsubishi or Fiat have mobile optimised sites for their global brand presences either.

Dedicated mobile site

Dedicated sites tend to use either a subfolder (e.g. or subdomain (e.g. to display what is essentially a different website designed specifically for mobile devices.

The advantages for end users of a dedicated mobile site include generally faster load times, and content that’s targeted to the device. For example, a destination such as a showroom might make their postcode prominent on their mobile homepage with a ‘navigate here’ link.

Aside from the fact that using a dedicated (separate) website for mobile users can effectively double the amount of administration work required for maintenance, the most significant drawback is when a repeat visitor looking for a piece of content that they have previously seen on the desktop site finds that it isn’t accessible on the mobile site or is in a different place.

The solution to this issue is to add a link to ‘desktop site’ on the mobile site, and vice versa. However, this negates the whole idea of dedicated ‘mobile’ content, hinders the user journey and means that desktop search results may not show up on mobiles. A visitor being able to visit the desktop site on their mobile rather defeats the point too.

Responsive website

Responsive sites use the same content for both desktop and mobile users. They simply adapt the arrangement of the content to fit the size (width) of the device’s screen.

Image showing a responsive website layout adapted to fit multiple devicesTypically this involves some form of grid system where desktop users will see a grid, say, three boxes wide and two boxes high, whereas mobile phone users will see twelve boxes stacked one on top of the other, as the following picture demonstrates:

The benefits of this approach (versus having a dedicated mobile site) are that there is one set of content to maintain, and SEO (and other campaign management) is simplified yet still effective.

The main drawback to consider with responsive design is that often more data is downloaded to the handset. However, with 4G currently being rolled out across Europe, connection speeds will continue to improve.

Your mobile website strategy

Aside from dedicated and responsive approaches, a third type called ‘dynamic serving’ (adaptive design, or RESS) exists, which is essentially a hybrid of responsive and dedicated – in simple terms it’s a responsive website – but one that serves different content depending on the device being used.

There is no hard and fast rule about the best strategy, and the decision is normally governed by your knowledge of search engine optimisation, available budget, target audience and marketing objectives. We tend to find that responsive design is the most appropriate for the majority of our clients.

Whether you choose ‘dedicated’ or ‘responsive’ routes (or neither), you should introduce click to call – it’s so simple to implement and makes your user experience infinitely better. In fact a recent study by Google found that online shoppers were thirty six per cent more likely to explore other brands if click-to-call wasn’t available, while forty two percent said they had used the feature when available, and (a different) thirty six per cent wanted to speak to someone during the research phase of their purchase.

So easy is the implementation of click-to-call, even if you don’t have the budget to tackle full mobile optimisation, there really is no excuse not to take this first step.

Mobile advertising

According to the BBC study of affluent consumers (cited earlier), mobile advertising is four times more effective than desktop. A complementary report from Kenshoo states that between November 1 and December 31, 2013, “1 out of every 3 global paid search clicks originated from mobile devices during the 2013 shopping season”.

Mobile measurement

Charlie Hunter-Schyff, judge at the 2014 Marketing On Mobile Awards (and Head of Global Ad Sales Effectiveness at Telefónica Digital) discusses the problem that mobile strategy creates for marketers: measurement. The problem stems from how we use our mobiles.

During the research phase of a purchase we’re likely to use our phone intermittently, perhaps bouncing between it, a tablet or home laptop and a work desktop – how can you measure mobile’s contribution to the final purchase? Well you can’t, at least not accurately.

So in a recent interview with The Drum, Charlie suggests: “My advice is to be less reliant on the metric of click-through rate and adopt more traditional brand metrics to measure the ad effectiveness of mobile campaigns. Such as how mobile can deliver incremental campaign reach, how it complements other media to raise brand awareness, how it helps to shift product consideration/purchase intent and drives actual purchase”.

The second screen

Most of us use our mobile devices while watching TV or using other devices at the same time – two thirds of us in fact – and advertisers are beginning to leverage this medium of ‘second screening’ to create additional engagement with TV advertisements and programmes. It was also reported by The Drum that CBS made between ten and twelve million dollars from second screening during the US Super Bowl. Although this type of advertising is still in its infancy, by using a service from Shazzam or Viggle it’s relatively easy to integrate campaigns between screens.


My personal favourite mobile experience has to be eBay.

It’s easier to buy things on your mobile device than your desktop, because you can link your PayPal account to your eBay account for one-click-payment, negating the entire and painful process of entering a username, password, delivery address and payment details.

Not only are eBay purchases easier on mobiles, but so is selling. The camera and photo library in your phone can be accessed by the eBay app, and you can even scan the barcode of what you’re selling to pre-fill the product details.

It’s this kind of investment in mobile usability that makes smartphone users like me reach for a phone (rather than a laptop) when it comes to armchair shopping.

Mobile first

House of Fraser is one of the first major UK retailers to use a ‘mobile first’ strategy. Instead of taking the traditional ‘desktop first’ approach (where a site is designed to work on computer first, and then ‘adapt’ to mobile), they have taken the opposite ‘mobile first’ approach by designing a great mobile site and then adapting it for desktop users. Design aside, sites can be developed with a mobile first methodology too, which can radically improve performance, load times and overall user experience, in comparison to a traditional ‘responsive’ website.

Mobile first is nothing new though. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the concept during a keynote address back in 2010, although I would predict that more and more businesses will begin to follow House of Fraser’s lead in this respect.

Andy Harding, executive director for multichannel at House of Fraser, commented in a recent interview: “Consumer shopping habits are constantly evolving and given we now see more than 50 per cent of our online traffic coming from mobile devices, we have adjusted our design strategy to ensure we provide the best possible experience for our online customers. We are always looking at ways to maximise customer shopping experiences and we’re confident our new look and feel website will be well received and will help continue to drive growth this year.”

What’s next?

While just one in five companies plans on increasing traditional budgets in 2014, over 70% intend on increasing their digital marketing spend according to the 2014 marketing budget report by Econsultancy.

At Factor 3, we have seen 50% increases in mobile traffic for clients within the first month of launching a redesigned responsive website.

So, mobile marketing should be top of your agenda for 2014, and we’d love to help you optimise your brand’s digital presence this year. Talk to us about your plans and we’ll drop you a line to let you know how we can help.

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