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What 17 Million User Sessions Can Tell You About Mobile Design

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As mobile traffic continues to flaunt a healthy growth, conversion rates on the device remain underwhelming compared to desktop averages. Behavioral data illustrates a significant gap between consumers’ willingness to shop on their smartphones, and the quality of experiences that are being developed for mobile users.

We analyzed 17 million user sessions in 2018, across 13 sites (cosmetics, footwear, clothing, media and DIY) and in 4 countries (France, Germany, UK, and the US), to better understand what is preventing mobile users from purchasing on their small screens.

PURCHASING VS NON-PURCHASING MOBILE JOURNEYS

One thing we noticed is that desktop and mobile consumers exhibit similar user behavior when their journey ends in a purchase.

Desktop buyers browse for an average 24 minutes – that’s only 3 minutes longer than the 21-minute navigation average of mobile buyers. In that time, desktop users will view an average of 28 pages, with the typical mobile purchasing journey unfolding over 26 pages.

As we can see from the data, the purchasing journey doesn’t change that much from desktop to mobile, with both segments requiring a similar level of engagement with a brand and its offer before filling in their credit card details.

When it comes to non-buyers, mobile users also view a similar number of pages as their desktop counterparts – 6 pages on desktop versus 5 on mobile.

Non-buyers, however, abandon their journey much quicker on mobile than on desktop. In fact, users spend half the time on mobile as they do on desktop during non-purchasing sessions, with the average no-purchase desktop session lasting 6 minutes - versus 3 minutes on mobile.

Once frustration sets in on mobile, it’s a short path to exit, and users clearly have little patience when it comes to negotiating a clunky user experience (UX).

Once frustration sets in on mobile, it’s a short path to exit.

Another glaring contrast is the difference between the time spent on a site for buyers and non-buyers. Mobile shoppers who walk away with a purchase will spend 7 times longer browsing a site than those who don’t – 21 minutes versus 3 minutes. This gap reduces for desktop users, with converting users spending 4 times longer on a site than non-buyers – 24 minutes versus 6 minutes.

What we can see is that the device does not really impact the number of pages a user is willing to view during their navigation – visitors who end up buying, whether on desktop or mobile, are particularly hungry for content.

Visitors who end up buying, whether on desktop or mobile, are particularly hungry for content.

There are many steps brands can take to optimize content for mobile. Developing easy product comparison tools to cut down on unnecessary steps, speeding up loading times, upgrading the information architecture to anticipate the content needs of users with different intents and contexts will go a long way to improving the connection with your audience.

PRODUCT PAGE AS LANDING PAGE

Users who start their journey on a product page spend less time on a site than those who enter through a non-product page – 3 minutes versus 8 minutes. The product page as landing page also has a 56% bounce rate (which is actually quite healthy!), meaning only 1 in 2 users persevere in their journey after landing on a product.

When it comes to mobile browsing, efficiency is key – welcoming visitors to your site through a product page can result in more focused, productive journeys.

Welcoming visitors to your site through a product page can result in more focused, productive journeys.

The product page as landing page also has a better scroll rate than other pages (54.6% versus 48.1%), suggesting users are more willing to engage with these types of pages at the start of their journey. This is confirmed by a high level of interaction, with users who land on a product page displaying a 31% activity rate (time spend scrolling, hovering or clicking), versus 19% when they land on other pages.

The data also provides interesting insights into the impact of various mobile acquisition sources. In the case of product page as landing page, for example, visits from social media, SEA or email sources have a 1.4% conversion rate. That’s 27.3% higher than visits from SEO sources (1.1% conversion rate).

Visitors from social media, SEA or email sources also bounce slightly less – 52% versus 56% for SEO visitors.

Brands should continue to invest in these acquisition sources, which are driving a meaningful chunk of mobile conversions. Ensuring consistency between the messages brands convey in their social media, advertising or email campaigns and the landing page content is key to keeping users interested.

OBSTACLES AT CHECKOUT

Checkout abandonment is a real problem when smartphone shopping. Mobile users who reach the shopping cart have a 16.8% conversion rate – that’s almost half the conversion rate of their desktop counterparts, who have a 32.2% conversion rate.

In other words, over 80% of mobile users who reach the cart don’t complete their purchase.

Data shows that mobile users who reached the checkout page but don’t go through with their purchase spend more time on the page and interact with it more than those who do make a purchase. Non-buyers spend 4 seconds more than buyers interacting with the page, and have a 33% higher activity rate than those who ultimately click Buy.

The key to shrinking exit rates at checkout is to make the final steps of conversion as seamless as possible. Reducing form filling by allowing users to log in via their social media accounts, offering guest checkout options and alternative payment methods such as fingerprint authentication will all help reduce friction.

Today’s consumers are addicted to convenience, and the most forward-thinking digital brands are making sure that shoppers don’t have to pick between choice and seamlessness.

And as mobile traffic continues to grow, adapting desktop interfaces to mobile is no longer a winning strategy. Brands need to understand the demands and expectations of their time-sensitive and highly mobile audience, and put these needs at the heart of experience development.

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