According to recent Google research, 79 percent of advertising brands do not have a mobile optimized website. Considering 89 percent of consumers use their smartphones throughout the day, creating a mobile-friendly experience where users can research and purchase is very important for a brand. The benefits are numerous, including potential ranking for search engine optimization and better conversion rates through mobile pay-per-click.
A client mobile team saw many opportunities for growth in the mobile space. Using current PPC and Google analytics data, the team determined the area for rapid growth would be in the development of mobile-optimized PPC campaigns. We also determined that Android and iPhone devices account for almost 10 percent of total site traffic.
Knowing that mobile search behavior differed from that of traditional search behavior, we developed strategic mobile campaigns targeting only mobile devices and ensured our keywords and ad copy resonated with the targeted mobile demographic. Campaigns were launched using the main desktop website.
The results were bleak
Mobile is a new channel making search volume much lower than traditional PPC search volume. However, because of the personal nature of the channel, we hypothesized conversion rates and site metrics would be higher. The reality after launching was much different. Our conversion rates were lower. Our bounce rate was higher and our time on site was lower. Of particular importance was our drop in quality score for our PPC campaigns, which meant bids would need to be increased to ensure top positioning.
Time to reevaluate
Using site metrics, we determined users didn’t want to stay on the site and conduct research. Our time on site was extremely low, 01:52, and our bounce rate was 40 percent, almost 10 percent higher than the site average. Our PPC campaigns were generating a very low conversion rate of approximately 0.42 percent.
The mobile user experience was not up-to-par. The main site had flash, which can’t render on mobile devices. There was a significant amount of pinching;scrolling and zooming required to read content on the pages. In short, we determined our mobile landing pages were terrible for the mobile user. Our solution to mitigate a bad user experience was to develop a mobile website.
Using analytics to determine popular mobile content we created an abbreviated version of the site that contained all the necessary info for students researching programs. We also provided a short form and click-to-call phone number as call-to-actions.
The mobile website
After the launch, we noticed significant improvements across the board. Our average time on site almost doubled to approximately 3:17 while our bounce rate decreased to approximately 36 percent. The biggest improvement came from our PPC campaigns where conversion rates more than doubled to 0.97 percent and quality scores improved, effectively lowering costs.
Continued optimization of mobile content will keep the site fresh and adding in a mobile redirect will assist with organic ranking. Additional content will also help refine our PPC campaigns, developing on improvements we have seen so far. This mobile site is just the beginning to many mobile opportunities and will assist in future mobile display and SMS campaigns, among other programs.