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Is the hype over mobile marketing justified?

There’s a buzz going around saying that smartphones are the greatest marketing tool since, well, a long time. But do people really use them in a way that retailers can generate sales?

Statista.com published an interesting graphic that shows smartphones aren’t the retail choice for many buyers. In fact, the device with the highest conversion rates is still the PC. In second place is tablets, and smartphones follow up as a very distant third.

smartphones vs tablets vs pcs

You will find more statistics at Statista

But traffic to ecommerce websites from tablets and smartphones doubled from 2012 to 2014. So people are using them to shop, just not to buy. When I think about it, it somewhat makes sense. I look things up on my iPhone all day long. Sometimes I’m in a retail store and looking for confirmation that the store carries the item I want, and to see if it’s in stock – often much quicker than trying to ask someone who works there.

In many cases though, the website of the store isn’t very mobile friendly. I can’t see the whole product page, or I can only access part of the product information. Sometimes it isn’t clear how to actually buy from the site (when they don’t have it in stock at the store).

Later on, when I look it up on my laptop the site is easy to navigate and find things. Also it usually is easy to buy from as well. And usually, the experience is better on my iPad than my iPhone too. The larger screen still lets me see what I need to make a decision, even if it isn’t quite the desktop experience. So the data on the chart above holds true from my personal experience.

Online retailers need to start thinking about the user experience of their mobile sites. There are a variety of tools you can use to make your website “mobile responsive” but that doesn’t mean it works well. Just that the website will automatically adjust the text, menus, or other items to fit a smaller screen. When you’re selling stuff, that just isn’t good enough.

This is true when you’re using video on your website to enhance your product descriptions or reviews. People need to be able to see those as well as the product and they need to fit the screen size. I’ve also had issues viewing video like this on my smartphone because it wouldn’t adjust to orientation or the controls were confusing.

So if you’re an online retailer, take another look at your mobile site. Make sure the experience makes it easy for visitors to purchase, and that your videos look good too. Then maybe people will buy on the spot while they are searching with their smartphone, and not forget to do it later on their desktop.

Oliver Burt

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