Getting mobile right in a fast, on-the-move & cross-device customer journey

We love technology and what it can do for us, and we’re now feeling quite powerful when we can do so many things through the use of a small device most of us own: a smartphone. But what’s next? What role will the smartphone evolve to play in our lives?

This topic was explored in an exciting keynote Sebastian Grebasch, Mobile Growth Lead at Google, gave at the opening of MobOS, the biggest mobile technologies conference in Romania, at the end of February 2020. Not only the data that he showed, that is coming directly from the giant, but the insights he offered made it all a good way to spend one’s morning. Let’s dive a bit into his talk and the key takeaways from it.

Setting the scene

The direction of the overall goal of using a smartphone is to empower the “customer” to make better decisions, more informed ones, and make the most of his/her time. As you can see in the photo below, although the stats are for Romania, the trend is similar everywhere. While desktop usage seems to flow within a constant range, the use of smartphones is hugely increased, more than 60% of the population own and use such a device.

Mobile user profile

Based on the data they gathered, the mobile user profile indicates he is a curious one, open about finding out more, a quite demanding one, and very impatient. The keywords the users now search for are from any domain, suggesting people now search for anything to be better informed. Increases in search to 110% for “best olive oil” or 150% for “best umbrellas” indicate this curiosity.

At the same time, the searches with “near me” have decreased significantly, smartphone users expect Google to know that. And, as the stats below show, users want things now, the smartphone allows them to reach out and get something on the go. You can imagine how important the speed of loading is for websites (especially) and apps.

Smartphone users shop more on the phone than ever before; 90 % of all Chinese Singles Day transactions happened on mobile for Alibaba, while Amazon had a 50% growth in orders via a mobile phone on Black Friday.

Customers are better informed than ever, through the smartphone they are 2.3x more likely to access products or services reviews while deciding on a purchase, and they also use search engines 1.3x more likely while deciding what to buy.

So, we deal with a very curious, demanding, and impatient user and increased usage of smartphones on the shopping journey and decision making. This can help your business grow or slow down. What’s next in the mobile user journey is a massive opportunity for any business, so how can we make the most of it?

Getting mobile right

While the scene-setting got all of us intrigued, this was the part of the presentation that was getting our full attention. Given the vast opportunity, how can we make the most of the mobile experience our users have to drive growth for our business? There are four important things Sebastian underlined in his presentation:

(1)  Performance: your website (or app) should load fast, and stay fast throughout the experience

Google measured the stress level of experiencing mobile delays, and it is comparable with the stress experienced when watching a horror movie. Moving on and measuring bounce rates, when there is even 1-second delay, visitors drop-out goes up to 50%! So your website should be loading on mobile in less than 1 second (or much less)!

(2)  Design & Interactions: make the user experience painless

There are three basic handholds for smartphones, and of course, this depends on the phone size, they are getting bigger every day, but also on the size of the user’s hand and his age. Younger people or the “screen” generation do tend to use their phone with one hand only.

Still, if the screen and phone get bigger, more and more users will have to use both hands. This is important to know to offer a painless experience while browsing. As you can see in the photo below, there are areas of the screen that the user can reach easier than others. Make sure your “static” info is placed in areas where the user doesn’t need to reach necessarily, while your CTAs are within the natural reach areas.

Getting mobile right in terms of the design means paying attention to all the interactive elements. This is highly connected to the content displayed, of course. On any landing page, there should be three main elements answering three main questions, and they should not require the user to scroll down:

  • What? The visuals of products or services
  • Why? A customer-oriented value proposition
  • Where? A clear CTA (call-to-action)
(3) Measurement: to “get” what’s working and whatnot, track user behaviors, not conversions

While the conversion rates for desktop seems to have increased, it is mainly due to a decrease in sessions, as most of the research is already done on mobile before the actual purchase on desktop. When the pre-conversion study happens on other devices, those desktop users usually convert during their first session on your site.

So, purely looking at conversions is not going to help you make the right decision when it comes to mobile. Now, consumers can research on many devices and can purchase from any of them. Conversion rate is a purely in-device metric, while the user behavior needs to be tracked on the multiple-devices he is using (measure cross-device journeys).

(4) Product strategy: as the lines between web and app continue to blur, your offer needs to be appropriate

Consumers do prefer apps and app-like experience, but not necessarily native technology. 90% of the time spent on a smartphone is spent on apps. And out of this, 96% of the in-app time is spent in 10 apps:

The only thing that changes this behavior is related to the situation. If they need information, consumers will spend up to 50% of their time in-app, but when they need to complete something quickly, they will spend up to 56% of their time in the provider’s mobile website.

49% of smartphone users download 0 apps per month, and all this stats reveal the importance of having a mobile website that is really performing well. This is where service workers can be the solution to having a fast, trusted and engaging mobile site, helping with caching content for a good online and offline experience and with push notifications.

All in all, mobile is here to stay and it’s crucial for all businesses now to get it right in order to make the most of the benefits it can rip. It all starts with the customer journey and its behaviors online and cross-devices, and continues with an ongoing development in offering a seamless experience all the way across this journey.