As marketers, we’re always seeking new ways to more effectively connect with our audiences. Over time in the marketing trenches of e-commerce, I’ve realized how critical it is to structure campaign messaging to best align with the actual needs and language of our customers. Going inside the minds of our customers often requires empathetic marketers to wear many hats.

Cue the topic of conversion rate optimization (CRO). I’ve noticed the pitfalls and lack of understanding as companies tackle this complex methodology. A CRO and testing practice can be applied to nearly every touchpoint to optimize the customer’s journey. When considering conversion rate optimization, there are nearly limitless conversion-rate-impacting opportunities as marketers. We sometimes have to ask ourselves, “What exactly do we want our customers to do?”

An important data point to be mindful of is that any site change has the potential to influence conversion rate. Simply put, there are a lot of things that you can do to get people to convert, but is the thing you’re testing something that you’re actually comfortable with? During my time formerly as a Product Marketing Manager and now as a Director of Growth at Readers.com, my team and I must often ask ourselves whether a testable hypothesis and potential outcome are right for our brands and channel mix. What may appear to be a “quick win” on the surface can pose long-term brand challenges and risk degradation to the overall ecosystem if only viewed in isolation.

As a marketer, you’ve probably asked how to gain the best results from a mobile conversion rate optimization practice and what that framework may look like. Below, I’ve laid out five essential steps to keep in mind when pursuing mobile CRO, as well as considerations that helped me in my professional testing journey.

#1. Ensure you have data

To know anything, you need the right data infrastructure. It’s critical that you measure and monitor every action your customers are taking. If you don’t have proper instrumentation and measurement in place to track and measure variances over time, you’re flying blind and you won’t have visibility on how testing changes influence behavior.

Think of it as something akin to having people over to your house. You wouldn’t want company over to visit if your house isn’t in order. It’s the same for data. Your infrastructure must be clean, otherwise you won’t be able to determine whether what you’re testing is successful.

Perhaps the single greatest factor affecting mobile conversion is site speed and performance. Consumers are impatient, and in a world with endless alternatives, you can’t afford any site delays. At Readers.com, we maintain a deep commitment to site speed and load time optimization for this reason. You could have a great looking website, but if it’s not fast…game over.

#2. Make it friendly for the user

It’s nothing new, but your site should cater its experience to the needs of the mobile user. When individuals are shopping on their mobile devices, they exhibit different browsing behavior from desktop users. The intent-to-purchase signals also vary between desktop and mobile shoppers. A high-value feature on desktop may not necessarily translate to the mobile experience. In these instances, auditing usage data to identify “leaks” in the mobile conversion funnel can help distill top mobile conversion rate optimization opportunities.

Finding ways to extend or add value to the conversation in light of the fragmented nature of the mobile journey is also key. Tactics including mobile opt-ins, save-for-later functionality, SMS, and push notifications are great examples of ways to capture and translate initial mobile browsing to a higher value on other devices or channels to continue the conversation. Intentional messaging across multiple touch points can contribute to long-term conversion.

#3. Remove unnecessary elements

We live in a perpetually distracted society, particularly as it pertains to mobile shopping. With this in mind, it’s essential that every page on your website caters to users’ exact needs at that specific point in their purchase cycle. Are elements structured in such a way as to maximize their chances of taking the single next desired action? If not, rethinking hierarchy and removing unnecessary elements may be worth considering. What may appear to be a negligible change on desktop can translate to dramatic gains on mobile given the limited screen real estate available. Just be mindful you don’t swing the pendulum too far, as this reductive process can also negatively impact other areas such as mobile SEO if the mobile presentation becomes sparse.

#4. Reduce friction points

Be attentive to how much you’re asking of the customer and at what point in their journey you’re asking it. Context is critical. For example, you wouldn’t ask prospects to provide all of their information up-front while they are still browsing, since it would introduce a friction point that isn’t critical for that stage in the shopping process.

When thinking about mobile CRO, make sure that you’re always minimizing the number of inputs you’re asking for. Every input request, particularly on mobile, is asking customers to do work—and work is the enemy of conversion. Furthermore, when inputs are, in fact, needed, ensure you aren’t asking customers to repeat themselves. Where possible, save all form inputs during their session so that should they reverse the funnel and return to checkout, they are one step closer to completing their purchase.

#5. Maximize the usability

Maximizing mobile usability can take many forms, but exercising as many of these best practices as possible can all contribute to mobile CRO. For example, iterative testing will help inform whether a multi-step or single page checkout resonates most with your customers. Exploring either path and minimizing the number of steps in the checkout process can net huge lower funnel gains. Additionally, consider providing customers a guest checkout option to bypass account creation for those who aren’t quite ready to commit at that level. Lastly, leverage the correct mobile form input types to take advantage of mobile UI keyboards optimized for specific form field inputs. These optimized keyboards are there to use, but failing to define appropriate input types results in customers using the default text keyboard, which can lead to slower form completion rates and, thus, a risk to conversion.

Customers first—always

With these mobile conversion rate optimization tips in hand, it’s time to engage your own customer base and seek out data that can provide the answers you’ll need for success. Test, test, test—and don’t be afraid to push limits. Remember, though, to put your customers first by knowing what makes them move down the funnel instead of away. Mobile CRO is an ever-evolving practice. As marketers, the onus is on us to grow with it to challenge our assumptions and continually test hypotheses to maximize results. Enjoy the journey!

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Jon Corwin

Jon Corwin leads the Growth team’s data-driven approach to new marketing channel experimentation and development as well as strategic partnerships, with a core focus on identifying and scaling new customer acquisition opportunities. As growth leader, he helps identify, scale, and manage marketing channels that help Readers.com continue to grow. Corwin has built and maintains a growth prioritization framework to enable and execute experimentation outside of Readers.com’s core marketing channel mix. The Growth team’s high-velocity testing approach to validating new channels has enabled Readers.com to deliver on their commitment to new revenue channel diversification.