According to mobiThinking.com, there are more than a billion mobile web users in the world. In addition to that, somewhere upwards of 8% of today’s entire web traffic is coming from mobile devices. ComScore.com reports that nearly 11% of e-commerce taking place on Cyber Monday (2011) came from mobile devices. That’s more than twice as much as the previous year. And that's less than the mobile-based e-commerce on Black Friday; nearly fifteen percent.
Now that we've got your attention and you're stopping to consider the real-world power of the growing mobile web market, it's time to ask yourself; are you mobile-commerce ready? Do you have a website that can be easily accessed and used by mobile devices?
Your standard website might be performing at the top of its class, but standard web design doesn't work in the world of mobile sites. Mobile is different. Mobile users have different needs, different expectations, and different abilities than desktop users. And it's not just in attitude either. Have you ever tried to navigate a desktop-ready website on your Kindle Fire while you carried a 3-year-old and a sack of groceries upstairs? Mobile users do this and other equivalent tasks on a regular basis.
That's why the number one concern for a mobile website has to be usability. Yes, you want your website to be pretty and do something cool — but if your mobile audience can't look at the website, ascertain what it's supposed to do at a glance, and then do that thing with one thumb while they hold their device with the other four fingers, you're going to lose conversions.
The chief way to establish what is usable and what isn't is to test it. Multivariate testing (or simple A/B testing if you can't afford a multivariate testing utility) is one of the most effective and fastest method to increase sales. Essentially, it involves creating dozens of slight variations on your page, and testing which converts best. The multivariate testing utility looks at all of the different variables and uses complex algorithms to sort out which of the variables is having what impact.
Targeting Your Mobile Audience
Testing across the industry has already proven a few things beyond a shadow of a doubt. The most obvious is that mobile users prefer content designed for use on mobile devices to content built for desktop computers and laptops, and they show that preference with increased conversions. Past that, individual webmasters can use querying to establish whether the majority of their customers use:
A physical keyboard vs. a touch-screen keyboard
A screen with rotation support
Browsers that support scaling, Flash, Java, AJAX, and so forth
A 2.5G, 3G, 4G, or 5G cellular network
iOS, Android, Research In Motion (BlackBerry OS), Windows Mobile, Palm webOS, or one of the other mobile operating systems
Opera Mobile, Dolphin, the Amazon browser, or a different mobile browser
Once you've established what your users are using, you can establish the technical limitations you have to code to, and design a website that the bulk of your users can most easily take advantage of. As an example, users with physical keyboards are more likely to take the time to type in information into a squeeze page than those who have to use a touchscreen.
With testing, you can provably establish what parts of your mobile site are working for you and which aren't — and over time, you can optimize your website and maximize conversions in your mobile marketplace.