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Mobile rules traffic, but not revenue - what to do?

     
6:34 pm on Oct 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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While mobile devices generated 90 percent more visits than tablets, tablets actually generated 12 percent more bookings and 59 percent more booking revenue than mobile. [4hoteliers.com...]

That's from the lodging industry, but it seems typical. Looking at some analytics recently for about 250,000 visits, conversions on mobile can be extremely low.

Much of this is inherent in the medium. I think to really get conversions on mobile you probably need an app, but that only works if you're the type of business that has a lot of repeat customers.

Have you done anything lately that moved the needle on mobile conversions?
5:10 pm on Oct 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I completely agree with the App idea, and as you say, if it's the correct market.

I watched someone using their smartphone the other day (with their permission) and they found what they wanted on the smartphone, then went to the desktop to make the transaction. I asked why, and they said it felt easier to manage the transaction. They hate typing on the small screen, so and app with data already set would have been the solution, or a step towards it. I don't think you can avoid the fact that the smaller screen is more difficult to use for anything too detailed.
3:15 am on Oct 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I know for me I tend not to be logged in on mobile because

1. It's impossible on a phone to accurately type long, random passwords with lower case, upper case, numbers and special characters.

2. I worry about losing the phone

So I might research on the phone, but I tend to buy on desktop.

In fact, I just now switched from tablet to laptop to make a transaction
1:48 pm on Oct 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I agree with the difficulty in entering data on a phone. In a perfect world (with no hackers/viruses/theft), we would have all our relevant information (name, email, multiple shipping addresses and CC info, etc.) stored on our phones and the e-comm sites would have a button to click to automatically pull the data from the phone and fill out the checkout form.

Or better yet- have all that information stored securely in the cloud (in case your phone was lost or destroyed). But with all the news about data breaches in large companies, how many people would be willing to trust all that sensitive info to a fledgling start-up? And with privacy concerns, how many people would be willing to trust all that info to a Google or Microsoft? Or worse yet- the government!

Granted, lots of people more or less do that already with Amazon. But I think opening that up to 3rd parties would be too much for most people.

Now, once retinal and/or fingerprint scanners become standard on mobile devices, that opens up some opportunities...
3:36 pm on Nov 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My mobile conversion rates are lower than both desktop and tablets.

Just last week I changed the bid adjustment in adwords from -50/60% to -30% across all campaigns.

I was expecting more costs but also more conversions.

I got the costs but conversions actually fell. It might be too short a timescale and too small a sample but I got just one conversion from 16,000 impressions (not clicks thank goodness!)

Seriously considering putting bid adjustment to -80% or so.

I am a retailer but my products may not be 'right' for the mobile market. Mostly our buyers are 25+ with a large proportion of new parents, friends and family of new parents, grandparents etc.

Am I just wasting my money in this market. Any thoughts?
7:13 pm on Nov 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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We're in a similar boat - mostly older customers. So we get a bit of a reprieve, but eventually we all have to figure out a mobile strategy and unfortunately I don't have anything helpful to add right now.
11:11 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think to really get conversions on mobile you probably need an app, but that only works if you're the type of business that has a lot of repeat customers.


Ignore me if I've not understood you correctly, but...

... do you mean that only the most loyal of customers will be motivated to download a native app in the first place? And that all other mobile device owners who don't download your app, won't use it and consequently you won't benefit from the high conversion rate associated with native apps?

If so, surely the solution is the web-app?

ie. a small-screen-optimised, touch-optimised website which looks, feels and responds like a native app, but (like any other website) is always instantly accessible via the smartphone's browser and - since it's updated on the server (like any other website) - never needs to be updated by downloading the newest version directly to the mobile device (in the way that a native app does).
11:55 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I am a webpublisher. We are seeing the same problem. However, it seems that people need little more time. May be in a year or two people will be used to mobile more and things will improve.
12:52 am on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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not advertising to mobile users is a big mistake, don't just look at 1-click conversion as your only metric.

As other's have said, mobile is for research and then they'll move to their other device for the purchase. So if you just look at 1-click conversion then it's going to look like mobile isn't converting.

When in actuality they found you and became "sold" while on mobile, while clicking your mobile PPC ads. It's just desktop got the conversion.

But hey, go ahead lower all your bids on mobile, better for those of us that want to advertise in your space, you'll just make it cheaper for us to gain new customers.
8:14 am on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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@ergophobe, i completely agree with you and may be allowed to add that i feel very unsecure using the phone ( especially Googles Android System ) and type in any personal or bank accouint Information. Hence nobody knows what all theses apps are dowing on the phone as the are allowed to do all they want. If there is a secure Problem with Windows all a crying but this System is like an house with no closed Windows or doors.
9:57 am on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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KevinC - that's a good point. Even my 11 year old son told me that's what happens. Only thing is, he and his mates haven't got credit cards!

I do get the point about research and converting on desktop but as this is impossible to track (could ask Where Did You Find Us? at checkout but you'd require more than one question to find any meaningful answers and I hate questionnaires as much as the next person) I might just be pi**ing in the wind.

Our website is now fully responsive so I thought conversions might at least rise a touch but they've not grown at all.

I think I might try one or two example campaigns - the ones that might apply better to a younger demographic, put mobile on an even footing, and see if desktop/tablet conversions increase. That might sway me.
10:12 am on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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as this is impossible to track


For those who use social media platforms (which I concede is not everyone), Facebook or Google+ etc. login on both devices is a reasonably reliable indicator of continuation of purchasing path.

I have seen that if I look up something on Google Maps on my iPhone and later turn to Google Maps on my laptop, the maps interface on my laptop is already aware of my most recent searches on my mobile - I'm guessing this is because I am logged in to Google+ on both devices.
1:22 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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There are some good poitns here. I personally won't buy an air ticket or book an hotel on mobile phone, however if I see the ad on mobile, I will click on it, study and then go to my desktop and complete transaction.
4:46 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm getting excellent conversions from mobile traffic. Not from responsive sites though. I put up a lot of stand-alone mobile pages, stripped down to suit the target audience.
1:00 am on Nov 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This is amusing to me as the lodging industry has some of the biggest PITA sites to do business with in the first place.

The problem with mobile conversions is the problem with placing the order. Simplified UI and 1-click checkout that can use a common wallet, or PayPal, something where you don't have to fill in a bunch of details on a mobile device is the solution to the problem.

It's never been a real brain teaser to me, people just don't understand what mobile UI is all about until you try living on the road for a month or so with your smart phone as your only computing device.

You quickly realize why Amazon sells so much stuff because they have simplified ordering down to a science on the desktop or mobile.

It's not that complicated pr surprising when people balk at doing tedious tasks on devices with where it's more difficult to input data.

You have to rethink to process and possibly even get the mobile providers to supply robo forums to fill in the names, address, city, state, zip which is a repetitive process and sites need to offer things like PayPal so we're not struggling to fill in billing and credit card data either.

Simpler yet, the ability to just BILL TO PHONE which already knows all your details and bypasses all the other nonsense.

All the technology is there to make mobile purchases as simple as possible but the telecom, operating system and other payment methods are all battling to get a slice of that pie which is why it hasn't been solved yet as they all want a part of each sale you make on the phone.

Until they all come to a meeting of the minds on how to divvy up that money, this ridiculous problem will continue to be an issue.

I used to work in the telecom business for a few years and you all have no clue what kind of crazy things go on trying to get a slice of all that money going over their wires, it's crazy.

That's all I have to say about that. ;)
4:40 am on Nov 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I used to work in the telecom business for a few years and you all have no clue what kind of crazy things go on trying to get a slice of all that money going over their wires, it's crazy.


Not all the tactics may be obvious from the outside, but to anyone who follows the industry a good many of them, and certainly the overall trend are obvious.
5:01 am on Nov 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Try exclusive offers to your mobile users at the top of the page. Message it so they can't help to go back while on their desktop.
11:56 am on Nov 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Simplified UI = Bingo!

If I cant read text on your site, you just have wasted monies on, lets say even hosting the content displayed on to my mobile device.

^+ what minnapple said. Works like a charm!
5:01 pm on Nov 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Incredibill... right as usual


Minneapple... interesting to try

Ronin...

... do you mean that only the most loyal of customers will be motivated to download a native app in the first place?


Yes. I agree with your point, but what I was driving at is along the lines of what iBill and Martin Ice Web were saying - the UI in most cases sucks for actual purchases and there are even great security fears compared to a machine that lives in my home and never leaves, for example.

In other words, I agree that a web app is essential to service people during the research phase, but I think it's really hard to get them to make actual purchases in most cases.

Facebook or Google+ etc. login on both devices is a reasonably reliable indicator of continuation of purchasing path.


That's certainly worth looking into!

Thanks for the conversation everyone
3:47 am on Nov 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've never run ads to mobile devices because i quickly noticed it was like setting money on fire.

I think people on mobile devices are mostly just poking around and aren't really in "buy mode".

UI, sure i think its that, but I also think..im selling you something, I probably have to ship... I need your full name addresss blhalbhalhblhab yea gota type it sorry.

amz and other sites like eb have 2 things going for them... apps, and mobile sites, but they also have ACCOUNTS that store all this stuff so you can buy easy and be done.

People have been shopping on these sites a lonngggg time and they already have the brand and user base created, so thinking just a UI change is going to turn your mobile customers into buyers is just wishful thinking.


Try exclusive offers to your mobile users at the top of the page. Message it so they can't help to go back while on their desktop.


all this is doing is FORCING them to use their mobile device...not really fixing the problem, run a promo I don't care how you browse and pay as long as you DO.


All the technology is there to make mobile purchases as simple as possible but the telecom, operating system and other payment methods are all battling to get a slice of that pie which is why it hasn't been solved yet as they all want a part of each sale you make on the phone.


fix it till its broken.
1:45 am on Nov 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"like setting money on fire" - LOL

I wouldn't say the goal for most is to get customers who were going to buy somewhere else to buy with you because your mobile site is so whizbang, but rather to make it possible for the customers who want to buy from you in the first place to do so. At least I'd be happy with that!
10:11 am on Nov 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Essentially it's a question of allocating resources.

Understand, or at least make an educated guess, as to whether the market is available to you and like ergophobe says give it a good shot at getting your website as mobile friendly as possible.

However, don't throw the kitchen sink at it and waste resources in the hope that it will bring in more customers to cover the costs associated with building the best website ever.

--------------------

KevinC made the point:

"not advertising to mobile users is a big mistake, don't just look at 1-click conversion as your only metric.

As other's have said, mobile is for research and then they'll move to their other device for the purchase. So if you just look at 1-click conversion then it's going to look like mobile isn't converting.

When in actuality they found you and became "sold" while on mobile, while clicking your mobile PPC ads. It's just desktop got the conversion."

--------------------

However, simply taking the overall Cost/Conversion across all website Campaigns should give you a good idea as to whether this is worth it.

Reducing mobile bids will see those mobile research -> desktop sales likely drop (if there were any) but associated costs with running the ads will also fall.

What's the overall picture when reducing mobile bids to -99%?

i) Cost/Conv is Stable or ii) Cost/Conv is now Higher => go back to using mobile clicks as you will get i) more sales at same cost or ii) more or same sales at lower cost

OR

Cost/Conv is now Lower => keep mobile bids to -99% / get rid as it's costing money
1:36 pm on Dec 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My wife sticks to the puter for online transactions and will only use the tablet in a pinch. The main reason is security. Passwords, finger prints, retina scans and dna security measures only work if the phone is stolen while not in use. Phones snatched while in use are on and the security measrures are useless.
4:54 pm on Dec 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Phones snatched while in use are on and the security measrures are useless.


This is the main reason I only log in on my phone while at home. That means that my laptop is right next to me. Which means that if the task can be done on the laptop, I do. The only exception is most banks only allow deposits from your phone banking app, but for some reason do not have apps that would allow you to use a scanner attached to your computer (it's a one-hour drive to the nearest ATM for my bank, so that's why I'm doing deposits from my phone in the first place).
1:11 am on Feb 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I used to buy my internet connection from the guy next door for 2 bucks a month -- When AOL came along, I checked it out ... They didn't do much more with that than my Dad did with cattle back in the day.

Most of these phones, and android powered types are no better than that - Keeping folks corralled and captive.

I market to the open internet - To people who are free to shop, download, and come and go as they please without having to be directed by Apps that, for whatever reason, pushes them tither and yon an a whim.

Do I build for Mobile? .. Sure .. but I prefer not to be forced out, or in, for the sake of it.

Walled gardens don't impress me -- There's plenty of money to be had away from the gimmick of the phone or the contracted data allotments of the tablet ...

As long as the Apps are found to be loaded with ad/spyware, and the wireless networks insist on data caps, your mobile experience on the net is going to always be greatly diminished regardless of whether or not you are buying or selling ...
6:58 am on Feb 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Simplified UI = Bingo!


... and once that's out of the way, we'll have to start working on the incredibly poor performance that wireless connections are notoriously known for ... Lets also consider the ever present poor performance of your batteries ... OMG .. I've got an order to finish that I'm in the middle of, so I don't think that guy behind the counter at 7-11 will mind if I go back there to plugin :) ---

Be careful to not stand by that particular tree, building, or bridge whilst placing your order - Network connection error? .. The easiest fix would be to hurry home to your PC to finish the job .. Processors? .. Not a phone built today can keep up with the demands of multitask processing like a Laptop or a PC can ...

... and we all wonder why the traffic, although just huge these days, from handheld devices doesn't or won't convert ...

These are just a few of the very real world reasons why I don't get too stoked over my mobile traffic -
9:34 am on Feb 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Do you think the built in "easy pay" features like keychains and credit card auto fills will make all the current difficulties of mobile orders go away?

I for one believe so. It`s a matter of perception. We are just past the door of mobile revenue streams (in general for all types of businesses) and if prepared early, you will thank yourself down the line for being proactive.
12:30 pm on Feb 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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We are just past the door of mobile revenue streams


I'll put on my Devil's Advocate hat for a moment here and say:

... Sure we are .. just like being just past the door of early ecommerce (which nobody trusted at the start) back in the day.

'cept back in the day it was more having to do with new technology, and therein existed the distrust .. These days however, we all know about the proven effectiveness of ecommerce on the net -- and companies are banking on that trust, only that the trust for all of this 'different' way of doing business isn't quite up to speed as much as banks and card companies would want everyone to believe ..

I'm sure that phones get stolen 10,000 x more than PC's -- So the use of mobile should be much more guarded -- but it's not ... it's guarded even less than a PC -- We discussed theft .. Fair enough. What happens when someone steals your phone, and discovers your kitty pwd or your 1234 pwd? .. Then what?

Heck .. we've got folks on the planet that run their systems in admin without a password, botnet crap up the wazoo, and people who don't know one browser from the next, and think the Google search bar is an address bar -- How much more likely are they going to be addressing any of their phone issues? Chances are they aren't, and the script kiddies are right at the door, just like they were with Windows way back when.

Ever just happen to be standing behind someone that's on their phone? .. even without trying you can see what they're doing - So? .. Security can only go so far in those kinds of situations .. The rest may well have to depend on the end user. That's a whole lot of trust/responsibility to be putting on folks who can't even secure their PC properly, don't you think? And then you've got the kids who've never owned a laptop or a PC in their life - How do you suppose they'll be handling their phones?

It's going to be a brave new world me thinks - and kudos to the techs that can try to hold it all together.

I think part of the reason why SYNC came along was because these guys pushing all of this so-called phone commerce stuff already know where the line in the sand is drawn as it might relate to the end user -

I've said this before, and I'll say it again -- I'm totally in favor of mobile -- I build for mobile -- We have a lot of fun with Android and the Tablets, they're cheap and easy to fix when they're broken ... But we don't use our toys as tools. Phones are good for texting, playing games, social networking, and actually talking to someone - but we won't go chasing BMW's with our Mountain Bikes ...
2:56 pm on Feb 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Good post @mcneely !

I just have one remark. Theft and abuse co-existed with societies for as long as there is recorded history. That is the reality. There will be people that will be burned and people that have been scammed or script-hacked. And I feel for them. But in the grand scheme of things the mas consumer will simply not care...just like they didn't care at the dawn of credit-cards. Boy do I remember the days one could get a solid list of credit card numbers for less than 100$ - it was even advertised (sort of..the Astalavista days are a bit of a blur for my memory nowadays). Did that change anything? - not in the slightest. Just your regular monthly news spot and corporate security e-mails.

Same thing will repeat in mobile. Different venue, same old gig...how to get the customer to buy your product in the easiest and most convenient way possible.
4:02 pm on Feb 9, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Same thing will repeat in mobile. Different venue, same old gig ...


You're probably as right as rain about that -- I'm guessing that it'll be a pretty wild ride too, being since there are 100's of times more phones out there now than there were PC's in 2000 ...