Lessons from eMetrics Day One: Data-Driven Smartphone Optimization

Wondering what’s up with mobile nowadays? Then come see what our team learned at the Mobile Design Optimization session at eMetrics!

upselling guest

My name is Ashley, and I’m a marketing analyst for Volusion’s corporate marketing team. Over the next week, I’ll be summarizing lessons on marketing strategy and ecommerce from my time at eMetrics, the premier conference for analytics and site optimization. And in case you’re just joining us, be sure to check out my first eMetrics post on social media marketing.

To wrap up day one, I thought I’d compile some quick advice from Mark Ryan, founder of Extractable, from his session on Mobile Design Optimization.


Data-Driven Smartphone Experience Optimization

If you’re feeling behind in adapting to the growing mobile market, you’re not alone! Ryan said many clients are on versions 9.0 or higher of their standard sites, but on versions 1.0 or 2.0 of their mobile presences. In his presentation, he shared tips learned from his years in mobile optimization. Here are a couple of the big ones.


Be Fast

Web users are finicky; mobile users are finickier. They want fast! But unfortunately, Ryan says load times for mobile devices are often twice those experienced on a standard device.

  • Make the pages light.
  • Use large, standard images sparingly.
  • Do not attempt to load heavy features, like videos, upon page load.
  • Test any tracking to be sure it doesn’t slow speed.


Monitor differences in user behavior by device

We are use to QA testing on desktops across browsers and operating systems. And your analytics account can let you know on which operating systems and browsers people access your site most often so that you can be sure and provide a positive experience for the majority of your visitors. But Ryan suggested that while user behavior, like pages per visit and conversion, are usually fairly consistent across different desktop experiences, that’s not true of mobile. He often sees differences in user behavior, like pages per visit and conversion, between say an iPhone and a Droid. That’s likely do to differences in experience and your business model.

At Volusion, I’ve found this to be true as well. Tablet users visiting our site have metrics more similar to desktop users. Smartphone users? Not so much. And that makes sense, especially considering our business model. So it might be worth separating out tablets from smartphones as you deep-dive into your own data. If you use Google Analytics, you’ll find that they recently added a new default advanced segment for tablets, which you can use to easily complete a similar analysis of your own. (You can learn more about how to use advanced segments for site analysis here, on Google’s site.)

Set up custom segments to further analyze mobile traffic by device and OS, and then look for disparities. Why might you be seeing those? Is it a design improvement opportunity? There are online tools you can use to see what your site looks like on different devices. For desktops and iOS, check out this site: Am I Responsive? There is also Screenfly, which will show you an array of different resolutions.


Identify Traffic Medium Differences between Mobile and Desktop

Ryan said most mobile users already know the brand they’re visiting. They access the site via branded paid and organic, which, considering how often mobile visitors need directions to a brick-and-mortar store, that makes sense. He said they less often come from other sources, like email. I agree with the first part, but question the latter a little. In my experience, there’s a lot of opportunity with mobile via email. Lower numbers are usually a result of poorly optimized emails and the fact that raw numbers of visits from organic and paid can sometimes hide opportunity with email. Email is usually a smaller channel compared to those big guys, but an important one! Especially for mobile.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve been monitoring the mobile traffic as a whole to Volusion’s site. Not surprisingly, it’s increasing month over month, and has been since before last year. But I was especially curious about email on mobile, since people often check email on their phones. I isolated our analytics account to just the email segment, and compared:

  • The percent of visitors from email via mobile (mobile visits via email/total email visits)
  • The percent of visitors from email via desktop (desktop visits via email/total email visits)

For January and February 2013, the percent of mobile traffic to our site via email was almost twice the amount from desktop — and we haven’t been specifically optimizing our emails for mobile yet. I would expect those numbers to increase, once we do, which also might help explain the low email counts for some of Ryan’s clients. If a company’s email is difficult to read via mobile and many people attempt to access emails via mobile, then low numbers might be explained by poor email experiences. If you’d like to test some different email templates, try Email on Acid. And you can view sample code and download free templates here.


Testing and Tracking Mobile Devices and Aps

You can use Google Analytics to track responsive/mobile sites, as well as aps.  And as Ryan pointed out in his presentation, you can find a wealth of information on tracking on StackOverflow.

Thanks! And check back soon for more lessons from eMetrics.


P.S. If you’re new to custom segments in Google Analytics, then the analyst in me wants to make a quick plug for the absolute importance of them! Go, check them out! (Yes, right now!) And read this blog from Google Analytics evangelist, Avinash Kaushik. It’s an oldie-but-goodie on the basics of segmentation in analysis.


Ashley was a Senior Analyst, Digital Analytics, at Volusion. She has a BA in English from UT at Austin, an MLA from St. Edward’s, and over five years experience as a web analytics practitioner.

2 Responses to “Lessons from eMetrics Day One: Data-Driven Smartphone Optimization”

  1. Anu Saha

    Great post. Thank you for linking to the Bazaarvoice Mobile Design Handbook for the free email templates and sample code.

    • Ashley Moreno

      Thanks Anu! It’ll be cool to see how folks in different industries utilize and test them. Hopefully we can all get smarter together!


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