Optimizing your marketing campaigns for mobile users isn’t just about having your landing pages render nicely on all smartphones and tablets. It's also about considering the user behind the device; what they're doing and thinking about while they're using it. And while the same people tend to use both mobile and desktop, their behavior and goals at a given time differ depending on the device they’re using.
But differ how, exactly? I spoke to nine digital marketers to ask what they’ve learned about their mobile audience and how they've adapted their campaigns accordingly. I boiled their advice down to four things you should know about mobile users so you can optimize your mobile marketing strategy and capture more leads. (Just remember: What worked for these experts may not work for you, so we recommend testing and tweaking as you see fit for your audience.)
1) Mobile users sort through and save emails to read later.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective methods of sending traffic to campaign landing pages. And because65% of email gets opened on a mobile device before a desktop computer, you need to be sure that every campaign email you send is optimized to stand out to your mobile users.
Aaron Beashel, Director of Content and Community at Campaign Monitor, explains why: “When we were doing research for our email client trend reports, the most surprising thing was how commonplace email triage really is.” Email triage, Beashel explained, is where prospects use their mobile devices to sort through email to save the ones worthy of more in-depth reading later.
If your campaign email makes the cut, Beashel says it’s more likely to get clicked: “Almost 25% of people who open a campaign email go on to open the email again on another device. And those who go on to engage with the email on another device (say, via their desktop email client) tend to click more.”
To make your emails stand out to mobile users ...
Optimize them for the people who skim.
After Beashel determined that many of his mobile users were judging his emails at a glance, he looked for ways to make his messages more appealing. To optimize emails for skimmers, Beashel recommends keeping your emails short, to the point, and chunked into sections with only one topic per paragraph. If you want to take it a step further, he recommends adding a headline for each section.
Keep the design simple.
Knowing that your campaign messages need to stand out from the dozens of emails that your mobile users sift through each day, it may be tempting to add crazy colors, fancy formatting, and maybe a goofy GIF. But Jimmy Daly of Vero suggests keeping it simple. “Mobile users don't have time for BS," says Daly. "For this reason, we've been experimenting with plain text emails instead of HTML emails for our newsletters. [For us], plain text emails consistently get more clicks than HTML emails because they easily format for any device and there are no distractions.”
Daly also suggests making every email you send mobile-responsive, with a clear description of the campaign and a prominent, thumb-friendly CTA.
In short, to optimize your campaign emails for mobile users, you need to mind both form and function: Make your copy concise enough to convey the value of your campaign, with minimal design that draws attention to your call-to-action.
2) Mobile users don't mind scrolling.
Making your emails mobile-friendly is only half the battle -- once mobile users click your email CTA, it's important the page they land on provide a delightful experience. Every campaign email should link to a dedicated landing page that continues the conversion you started in your email and provides crystal clear next steps.
But if you don't optimize that landing page for mobile users, they might take one look at the tiny text and information fields and leave your page. To increase likelihood they'll convert, your landing page needs to be mobile responsive. No pinching to zoom and no teeny-tiny CTA buttons that are hard to tap with your thumbs.
But how about the length of your landing page? Should you cut back on page length so people don’t have to scroll frantically? For Jen Gordon of ConvertThemes, not necessarily. In her experience, the length of your landing page doesn’t matter as long as you focus on giving prospects the information they need to convert.
“The most surprising thing I've seen in test after test is that people actually do read and take action on long, mobile-optimized landing pages," says Gordon. "For several years, the 'mobile context' has been discussed as rationale for cutting content to the bare bones, based on the idea that a) mobile users are on-the-go; b) they have very little time to read; c) they are distracted and lack the ability to take thoughtful action."
But these assumptions are just one end of the extreme, she explains. If you’ve ever read an ebook on your mobile phone, then you understand that many users are accustomed to reading long blocks of text on their mobile devices. For Gordon, it comes down to creating desire for your offer: “The bottom line is people will take the time to perform an action on their phone if it's something they really want or need."
Run A/B tests to find optimal landing page length.
Gordon recommends running A/B tests to see what page length works for your website and your prospects. She also suggests inserting "Back to Top" button(s) on your page, depending on its length -- and experimenting with content hierarchy (i.e. moving content elements up and down the page to track engagement and/or clicks).
Try putting a CTA above the fold.
Similarly, Angie Schottmuller of Three Deep Marketing suggested creating a mini CTA button and placing it under the logo on your landing page. “Create a mini version of the main CTA that simply jumps to the web form to expedite action. This approach ensures an obvious CTA is above the fold, which highly appeals to the goal-oriented mobile user."
It boils down to this: Include all the necessary information that a prospect needs to convert. Nothing less, nothing more. If your page is long, then test using buttons and links that jump to the opt-in form to make it easy for prospects to take action.
3) Mobile users are in the research phase.
Once your mobile users arrive on your landing page, you need to understand what their goals are and what will motivate them to take action. Alex Harris of Alex Designs has found his mobile audience are generally in a research phase. When they’re ready to purchase, they tend to use a computer.
“This is a function of the first screen to second screen phenomenon, where consumers begin their search for a solution or product less formally on a mobile device and switch to a larger form factor device as they narrow in on their choices and get closer to buying," says Joel Harvey of Conversion Sciences.
But don't throw in the towel on mobile: Even if your mobile audience isn't in a purchasing mindset, prospects could be looking for more information about your product so they can convert later. "This makes generating leads the most important conversion for the mobile device," says Harris. So what's a marketer to do?
Add click-to-call buttons to help prospects in the research phase.
If you find that your mobile users are in a research phase, then make it easy for them to phone in for more information. This goes beyond making your phone number available in the upper righthand corner on the screen. Harris recommends the following tips:
Ensure your phone number is in HTML and is "click-to-call" ready. In other words, visitors should be able to click the number and have it show up in their phone dialer.
Test which gets more clicks: a clickable text phone number, or a click-to-call button with text such as, “Call Now – Click Here." Harris tells us he saw a 10-20% increase in phone calls when using the latter.
4) Mobile users want opting in to be quick and easy.
If asking mobile users to phone in isn’t a primary goal of yours (or if you simply don’t have the bandwidth to field the calls), you may want users to opt in via a form on your mobile-responsive landing page.
The thing is, mobile users can be fickle. Johnathan Dane, President and Co-Founder of Disruptive Advertising, has found that "people have even less of an attention span on mobile compared to desktop. This means you have to get to the point as soon as possible with your landing pages -- be clear instead of clever."
Reduce friction on your forms.
If that’s the case, you want to be sure to keep your opt-in forms as streamlined as possible -- and Dane shared a great place to start: "If you do allow people to call in, take a good look at what form fields you're requiring visitors to fill out. Can you remove a lot and then qualify them over the phone instead? If so, do it, and you could see your conversion rates grow."
Beyond reducing your form fields to the bare minimum, the experts I spoke to had other suggestions to share. For example, Josh Krafchin, founder of Clever Zebo suggests using social login as a shortcut: "People are hesitant to type a lot on their phone, but they're more likely to take an action if made easy. Finding ways to reduce typing can be crucial, like providing a social login option instead of form fill out, integrating with payment solutions that already have payer information loaded, multi-select over free-form text."
Dane shared a simple shortcut that could help reduce friction on your opt-in forms: "With mobile forms, make sure your different input fields automatically switch the mobile keyboards to alphabetical versus numeric, depending whether it's name (alphabetical), phone (numerical), email (alphabetical), zip code (numerical), and so on."
Reduce perceived friction, too.
Finally, along with making your opt-in forms physically easy to fill out, be sure to minimize perceived friction. Alhan Keser, Senior Conversion Strategist at WiderFunnel, suggests using language that lets people know taking an action will be simple. He said, "Considering the mobile context in which a page is being seen, we've successfully tested language that is in line with the visitors mindset: this will be quick, easy, and you can do it via your device.”
Again, although the advice of these experts is a great starting point for your marketing campaigns, remember to take their advice with a grain of salt. What worked for their audiences won’t necessarily work for yours, so test the heck out of everything. And tell us what you learn in the comments!
Originally published Dec 23, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017