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Are These 7 Issues Killing Your Mobile Conversion Rate?

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Earlier this year, we carried out a massive research project to understand mobile user behaviour across 40 ecommerce sites in 6 countries.

We discovered a simple truth that changed the way we think about designing for mobile users:

Mobile users are shockingly single-minded about getting to product.
(And anything that gets in the way of that single-minded journey is a ‘conversion killer’.)

As with any research project, this one threw up some lessons we can learn now – by addressing real issues with the mobile experience – and some that have longer term implications for mobile experience design.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought it worth putting up this short blog to detail the short term fixes – in the words of our usability testers, these are the seven conversion killers you can deal with right now:

1. Make it easy to find my way around

If menu structure and language are way down your list of priorities, it’s time to think again. Shoppers don’t want to play ‘find the needle’, scouring menus for products that should be easy to find. And they won’t. They’ll go elsewhere.

This was a surprisingly common issue, with sub-menu categorisation and ‘in-house’ terminology being common culprits.

So think carefully about your menu structures. Are you burying best sellers in obscure sub-menus? Or are you expecting shoppers to understand your internal category shorthands? Make it easy and make it obvious.

2. Brand content? No! Just show me the product

Where users encountered simple category signposts on homepage merchandising spots, they used them repeatedly. They were blind to brand and campaign content, only clicking on obvious navigation spots like ‘mens’ footwear’, ‘womens’ jackets’ and so on. In fact, their first act was to scroll to the bottom of the page looking for them.

They resorted to using menus and search if they had to.

All that great brand content isn’t a waste of time; it’s just in the wrong place. Use your mobile homepage to make it easy for users to navigate.

3. These filters don’t work for me

Filters are a big deal. Users spend ages filtering product listing pages to get a relevant selection of products – along with the product details page, this is the single most important part of the journey and has a bigger impact on overall conversion than you might think.

Users hate it when filters are hard to find, apply and remove, or use terms they don’t immediately recognise. Worse still, they simply give up if they can’t apply whatever combination of filters they need.

This should be top of the fix list. Quite simply, make sure your filters are easy to use and make sense for users.

4. I’m not reading a product details essay. Break it up

In tests we saw users spend a lot of time on the product page. This is where they are prepared to engage with content – but they don’t want big blocks of text (and remember a short paragraph on desktop looks massive on mobile). In fact, they simply skip past content that isn’t easy to consume, rendering the investment in creating it worthless.

Create product content that’s satisfying to read – make it ‘snackable’ and visually appealing and users will engage. Break text up and use bulleted lists, photography and iconography to highlight features and benefits.

Integrate brand content that’s relevant to the product (but otherwise ignored on other pages) and, if you get this right, shoppers will convert 20% more often.

5. Why can’t I just pinch to zoom??

Users found this phone-smashingly annoying. They want to see the product image close up so what do they do? They pinch to zoom (they’ll even do this on the PLP). They swipe to the next image. But this rarely works. The pinched image jumps off the page, the swipe takes them ‘back’ to the previous page. They just don’t want to use the zoom, arrow and 360 icons – they’re fiddly and it’s not instinctive behaviour on a smartphone.

This is a priority optimisation job for lots of mobile sites. If you don’t develop a gallery treatment that supports native smartphone gestures you’re throwing away sales and not getting the most from your investment in product photography.

6. Please can I just give you my money???

So many sites fell at the final hurdle – by making the last leg of the journey, from basket to checkout, just horrible. Forms that are fiddly and repetitive, unnecessarily complicated delivery options, hidden returns messaging, baskets that are hard to update – all these issues and more saw our users abandoning purchases.

There are too many opportunities to optimise the basket and checkout experience to list here – but it’s so important, why wouldn’t you test and investigate every route to a better user experience? And don’t overlook touch payment solutions like Apple Pay, Android Pay and PayPal OneTouch.

7. This site is just infuriating. I’m leaving

Then there are the niggles, the seemingly minor issues that add up to a terrible user experience. Users might battle through them once, but they won’t be back any time soon. Our test users hated newsletter pop-ups that are hard to close and cookie messages that take up half the screen. Meanwhile slow page load times and UIs that don’t work so well for touch – unless you have child fingers – had them leaving sites in droves.

So, if you haven’t tested and optimised every aspect of the user experience – and dealt with the niggles – you’re losing sales.

Beyond Responsive?

There’s a bigger picture here – the research points to an opportunity to rethink mobile experiences and that, by making things better for users, sustainable revenue growth can be delivered quickly. Consider that mobile is already the dominant device for online shopping – and that the trend away from desktop and tablet is accelerating – and it’s obvious that these quick fixes are only the beginning.