Anyone can see the importance of a mobile-friendly website, especially after Google’s Mobilegeddon algorithm was updated.
The mobile optimization remains and challenges more and more companies and their websites. However, mobile optimization is not all about beautiful website design.
In this article, we will explain why and how to apply a mobile-first mindset to your website.
What is mobile optimization?
Mobile optimization is the process of designing and developing your website and its content to work just as well on mobile devices as it does on a desktop. With more consumers accessing websites on their smartphones, mobile device optimization becomes more important.
Google’s change to Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm in 2015 (and several others since) was evidence that the search engine is realizing its responsibility for bringing up websites that painlessly give users what they need when they want.
Google doesn’t want to send mobile users to websites that offer a frustrating browsing experience. This would harm the promise of users to always provide helpful and relevant content.
Furthermore, this change in algorithm was and is a signal of a much larger shift that is underway – consumer behavior is changing and it is your job to adapt.
How to optimize a website for cell phones
- Plan your customer journey.
- Make use of deliberate micro-moments.
- Reconsider your metrics.
- Embrace the intimacy of the mobile.
- Think about the basics and think ahead.
Building a mobile-friendly website is the first step. However, if you optimize your website, you will not be ahead of changing consumer behavior and expectations.
In short, you need to put a mobile-first mindset into your marketing strategy. Here is how.
1. Map your customer journey.
Imagine the experience of Sally, a young marketer who just moved to Chicago. While walking, Sally passes a hair salon and realizes that she needs a haircut. She pulls out her cell phone and looks for hairdressers in Chicago who specialize in curls and colors. Your Google search opens Joanns Stylez.
She is scrolling through the site quickly and wants to do more research, but it’s too difficult on the way – so she posts a link herself. When she gets home, she opens her texts on her tablet and quickly checks the Yelp reviews, checks her calendar and then books an appointment using the simple form on the Joann website.
Later that evening, when Sally is charging her laptop to read her emails, she discovers an email from Joanns confirming her appointment and giving her the opportunity to add it to her calendar. The next day, 30 minutes before her appointment, she receives a push notification on her work computer reminding her of the appointment.
The next day, Sally receives a mobile e-mail asking for feedback on the shortening and the offer to make a recurring appointment at a reduced price. She’s sold.
Sally’s experience is an example of the cross-device omnichannel journey many customers are now taking as they move through the marketing funnel. Every day, consumers switch a handful of different devices when doing common tasks like online shopping, preparing blog posts, booking appointments, or communicating with one another.
HubSpot’s blogging software lets you publish relevant, conversion-optimized content that you can preview on any device. So you can get in touch with customers anywhere.
Consumers now expect this type of experience from all of their digital interactions. They want to be able to do what they like on any device. This means that it is not enough to simply customize your website to look good on different devices. As a marketer, you need to dive deeper into the lives of your customers and prospects.
At HubSpot, for example, we know that a visitor on a mobile device is very likely not to fill out a long form on one of our landing pages. So we started using Smart Content to automatically shorten the form when a mobile viewer looks at it. In this way, our mobile prospects have increased five times.
2. Make use of deliberate micro-moments.
You have likely developed a number of strong buyer personalities by now. They did user research and testing to understand what content and CTAs each person should be presented with as they move down the funnel. You need to go one step further now. You need to understand both the rhythm and the rhyme of when, why, what, and from where people are interacting with your website and content.
Google encourages marketers to identify the “micro-moments” in a customer’s journey:
Micro moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – in order to react to the need to learn something, to do something, to discover something, to see something or to buy something. There are intentional moments in which decisions are made and preferences are formed.
A number of brands have figured out how to anticipate and leverage these micro-moments. Apple Passbook will top up your Starbucks card when you’re near a coffee shop. Hertz will email you when your plane lands to let you know your car is ready. With Starwood you can check in and open your hotel room with your smartphone.
Consumers are getting used to companies that have such responsive experiences. 59% of shoppers say shopping on mobile is important when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from, and 39% of smartphone users are more likely to browse or buy a company’s mobile app or a brand because it is easier or faster to create a purchase.
How can you find out those micromoms and design your content to suit the intent of the prospect? Tap your details. Here are three analyzes to start with:
- search: What queries, ads, and keywords are bringing users to your website and landing pages on different devices? What types of searches do users on different devices perform once they land on your website?
- content: Examine the content users are accessing by level in the funnel and by device. Is there a trend as to which potential customers are downloading on their phones? Divide?
- Flow: Browse a flow analysis segmented by device. Which path do potential customers follow with mobile use? What is the path of customers using tablets? What websites and sources are these visitors coming from?
After you’ve built your treasure trove of micro-moments, it’s easy for you to think, “Okay, we just need to reduce our website to the specific things that our visitors are likely to want to access on the go.”
However, mobile users are not limited to performing short, simple tasks. The device does not directly imply location or intent.
A busy professional can use their commute time to do in-depth industry research on their phone, process their email inbox on their tablet while watching a movie with their family, and browse potential contractors’ websites as they cross the country flies.
The Pew Research Center’s study of U.S. smartphones confirmed this intuition and found that 99% of smartphone owners use their phones at home, 82% use their phones while in transit, and 69% use their phone every week at work. (This study was conducted in 2015, but we believe it is still relevant today, if not more relevant.)
People don’t want reduced content. Instead, they want quick and easy access to the materials they need on whatever device they are using. So while you want to optimize your website, landing pages, emails, etc. for micro-moments, you don’t want to force visitors into a box from which they cannot escape.
3. Look at (and rethink) your metrics.
The metrics you set out in the desktop-focused days may not carry over seamlessly to our new, multi-device, multi-micro-moment world. You may have struggled tirelessly to increase the time people spend on your website and realized that more time means higher engagement, which leads to higher conversions.
However, the micro-moments you identify for mobile visitors may suggest that you want a shorter time on site. A prospect visiting a consulting firm’s website may be looking for:
- An infographic that you want to show a colleague
- The biography of a partner with whom they will meet
- A case study of reading while traveling
To meet this prospect’s expectations for their mobile experience, you need to design your website so that they can quickly and intuitively find the specific information they are looking for. If your mobile visit is distracting, frustrated, or too time consuming, you have affected your brand awareness.
4. Embrace the intimacy of cellular communications.
Good or bad, I go to bed with my phone (check tomorrow’s schedule and read a night meditation) and wake up with my phone (turn off the alarm and check the weather). I communicate with my partner and best friends every day – all over my phone. When my MBA classmate sends a GIF of Tyra Banks that is naughty, I turn my phone to the person next to me and we have a good laugh together.
Day in and day out, these interactions create a close bond between my phone and me. And I’m not alone: most consumers give their mobile experiences more intimacy than desktop experiences. The Pew Research Center found that Americans see their smartphones as liberating, connecting, and helpful, and associate their phones with feelings of happiness and productivity. These associations can lead to more engagement and interest in content.
As marketers, we should take advantage of these trends and consider how we can make the mobile experience of our potential customers more personal and social. Maybe change your website to increase the percentage of social CTAs you display when someone arrives on their phone.
5. Think about the basics and think ahead.
Overall, this means embracing the mobile mindset Ensure the entire customer journey is responsive, relevant, actionable and smooth. As a marketer, you want to help consumers quickly and easily find what they want to find and do what they want to do. This in turn means thinking ahead and understanding when, with which device, and from where your potential customers are interacting with your content.
This can seem daunting, but most of the time it means applying the basics carefully across channels. For example, since almost half of all email is open on mobile devices, make sure your email is optimized for mobile devices. We recommend the following:
- Use large, easy-to-read text.
- Use large, clear images and reduce file size.
- Keep layouts simple and invest in responsive templates.
- Use large, mobile-friendly calls-to-action and links.
When you recognize the personal associations people have with their phones, you’ll want to make sure the name “From” is known and the preview text is inviting. And think ahead: don’t email a link to an event registration form or landing page that is not suitable for cell phones.
Use HubSpot’s free landing page builder to launch landing pages that look perfect across devices and automatically change their content based on who is viewing your page.
About you: time to optimize
Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to living the mobile mindset and weather the change in consumer digital behavior. Move fast and your organization could be at the forefront.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for completeness.