What your mobile conversion rate isn’t telling you 2

What your mobile conversion rate isn’t telling you

It’s no mystery that the use of smartphones is still a rapid ascendance when it comes to consumers. Yet despite, there is still a significant gap when it comes to the conversion rates between mobile and desktop devices.

Research by American CRM giant Salesforce looked into purchasing behaviors by device over the Thanksgiving period of 2016. They discovered that 51% of sales came from consumers who conducted their shopping desktop from only 35% of the traffic. Inversely, mobile shoppers made up 56% of all traffic yet only contributed 37% of the sales.

On the face of it, whilst the use of smartphones now dominates the way we access information and the web, we are still much more reluctant to purchase on our phones than we are on our trusted laptop devices.

To the retailers, this gap in the data could be easily be interpreted as an indicator to lessen efforts on mobile sales and make desktop the imperative channel.

The problem this creates, however, is that by neglecting the mobile experience businesses are also negatively impacting all online and ‘high-street’ sales as well.

Measuring mobile sales only in dangerous

The root of this problem stems from companies segregating desktop, mobile, and offline sales as separate channels of the business, where the success of each channel is measured in the view of its own conversion data. The problem here is that this neglects to account for the influence mobile has on high-street and/or desktop sales. For instance, according to Google, 82% of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy.

This is also compounded by the very nature in which we interact differently with the different channels, i.e. just as our purchasing behavior is different online to when we are in a physical store, so too is our mobile behavior different to desktop.

For instance: studies by Forrester Research have shown that whilst customers using desktop computers are happy to search, browse and compare, their mobile counterparts exhibit a different kind of behavior. Mobile users expect an immediacy of what they are looking for to be available to them.

Whilst your sales data might not suggest it, the chances are mobile plays a more vital part to the success of your other sales channels than you might think. A user that does not convert on your mobile site is not a lost conversion if the outcome is for them to ultimately purchase in-store or on desktop. The key, therefore, is to understand where mobile fits into your customer’s decision-making process.

Mobile ‘moments’

This behavior can be broken down into what are now coined ‘micro-moments’. These moments are highly relevant, immediate and engaging moments in time when a customer turns to their smartphone to achieve their goals.

These spontaneous moments can happen anywhere and at any time. Whether that’s where to find a coffee, how to change a wheel on the car, how to get home, finding the is the nearest chemist.

In Google’s words: “Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect from brands. It’s fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”


These mobile moments often form the first interaction a customer will have with your brand. As such if that first experience for the user is a poor one, regardless of their point in the purchasing journey, it will, of course, influence the customer’s feeling your brand right from the very start. The ramifications of which are that they may never visit your desktop site or high-street stores further into their journey.

In research performed by the mobile application publisher, Buildfire, they found that as many as 40% of consumers have chosen to go to a competitor following a bad experience on mobile. Of course, one bad experience in isolation may not be enough to stop a user converting, but every time the user senses frustration it increases the chances of them choosing a competitor’s over you.

The key then is to identify your customers’ mobile moments and their context. How do they fit into your purchasing journey? By looking at the user experience holistically as part of a complete customer journey you can then start to understand exactly how mobile plays its part in your business.

However by simply measuring mobile performance in the same way you do for desktop you can quickly start to damage sales on other channels, resulting in the profitability of your business suffering as a whole.

For more information on influencing conversions as part of the wider customer journey, check out the article here: Understanding UX in the purchasing journey

For more information on ‘micro-moments’, you can check out Google’s comprehensive guide here: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/collections/micromoments-guide.html

Andrew Machin
Andrew Machin

With over 15 years’ experience in web design and digital marketing Andrew has helped many brands, both in the UK and US, create exceptional digital experiences, from websites to in-store retail experiences, such as John Lewis, Jet2, Virgin Holidays and Interflora.

Through the success of such projects Andrew has received accolades that include high-profile awards that span innovation, strategy, design and results such as the Dadi Grand Prix Award and the Digital Impact Award for Innovation.

This experience has led to Andrew judging digital design awards, been featured in .net magazine, lecturing at Leeds university and speak at seminars and conferences across the UK.

Follow Andrew @The_Machin

Articles: 108

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