Owners of ecommerce sites are a pretty observant bunch. The clarity that sales provide (or lack thereof) can make marketing a bit easier to quantify.
There isn’t a need to tie promotional activities back to branding metrics, or tricky-to-quantify engagement on the site (“Do we want more page views, or do less views mean the site delivered on the first try?”)
Thanks to that clarity, store owners keep a close eye on their data, and have probably seen mobile devices show-up on their radar a lot more than they used to. Combine that with the buzz around smartphones, and the idea of a store app quickly becomes a topic at the conference room table.
And rightly so. Smartphone users are a highly motivated crowd, and for the time being they represent an audience that is somewhat more upscale. But a smartphone can’t deliver more than the eye can absorb on a 3-4 inch screen, so usability becomes a paramount concern.
Hence the appeal of an app: nothing delivers content with the ease of use and instant response that a native app can provide.
Apps Drive Sales, But What Drives Downloads?
So an app becomes the centerpiece of your new mobile marketing strategy. But is it the whole strategy? To have your app make a dent in sales, you need to get it into people’s hands. There are lots of ways to accomplish that, but simply making a great app and releasing it in the App Store won’t do the trick.
And so it’s time to go back to your metrics – they may be trying to tell you something. Are your new customers coming from search? And is that activity centered around product searches – items you stock that they want? For many store owners, the answer to both questions is yes.
If that’s the case, then you have a great channel for promoting your app, staring you in the face: a mobile-optimized website.
For a lot of companies, having an app and a mobile site might seem like an unnecessary duplication of effort. But when you look at customer acquisition, you can see the value of having your site become a more effective tool for getting first time customers to 1) buy from their phone and 2) download your app for that second purchase.
Or even for the first purchase: if you show customers know that you have a product in stock, plus other products they may be interested in, the positive experience may persuade them to download right now.
Keeping Your Mobile Website Focused
How do we produce a cost-effective mobile site when dollars are already being spent to develop an app? The key here is to focus on the mission at hand: acquiring customers through product search.
Again, back to your metrics: your incoming traffic is probably driven by a handful of top products. So the process of building a mobile store doesn’t have to be a heroic effort to replicate your 1o,000 SKU inventory. Focus on the top 100 products, and use mobile SEO to make those pages perform well in searches for those product names.
Key Features For Mobile SEO
- Mention the product name in your HTML page titles (as you probably do on your desktop website.) But keep it short: Google Mobile only gives you 55 characters to work with (versus 70 for desktop.)
- Re-process your product images to get the files down to the smallest possible size. 50kb JPEGS are an attainable goal if you’re careful with the compression. Google looks at download speed, and factors it into search results.
- Conversely, resist the urge to downsize your product copy. Try to package it as bulleted lists to make it more digestible on a small screen. But don’t leave out details that contains keywords that your customers might use.
Image compression software can help optimize your site for mobile SEO, producing high-quality images that download quickly.
Then decide what the next step should be. Should “Buy Now” be your call-to-action? Should it be “Download Our App”? Or maybe a button for each?
A-B testing will provide the best answer for your particular audience. Either way, you’ve got that mobile user in your store, looking at your inventory, and getting to know you – probably for the first time.
With a coordinated strategy in place, your mobile website can help drive new buyers to download your app, increasing its reach and building a mobile customer base that will come back again and again.
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