Site optimization for mobile devices falls short again

Gleaning from Adobe's 2013 Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Opti­miza­tion Sur­vey, I found that less than half of the respondents have a mobile-optimized site or a mobile app.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

It surprised me to find out in Adobe's 2013 Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Opti­miza­tion Sur­vey that fewer than 50 percent of the 1,800 respondents reported having a mobile-optimized site or a mobile app. I can vouch for the fact that mobile device traffic has increased significantly — so significantly that I now have to consider its impact on my readership.

For my posts on ZDNet, I receive from 25 to over 30 percent of my traffic from mobile devices, including tablets, phones, game systems, and miscellaneous devices. Last year, Adobe Analytics found that mobile device traffic had doubled over the previous year. That information didn't cause a mad rush to create branded mobile apps or mobile-optimized sites. This is an epic* fail.

This column, and dozens of others like it, discuss BYOD, mobile, and the changing surface of user's personal computing devices, yet there are still statistics like this rolling in from all over the globe. Adobe's well-publicized survey results reported this trend last year, but apparently had little impact.

Why should a mobile-optimized site or mobile app matter?

Actually, most users prefer a mobile-optimized site to a mobile app, but the importance isn't diminished by that bit of trivia. The importance is that mobile users, especially tablet users, spend more than their non-tablet counterparts do.


You shouldn't be surprised if you consider the tablet-owner demographic. The tablet owner tends to be more affluent, more tech-savvy, and searching for something to purchase.

Speaking of searching, search is perhaps the least optimized of all the services on any site. It's unfortunate too, since mobile users tend to attempt search more often than their non-mobile counterparts. Also note that most users give up after only one failed search attempt.

Yes, these are all verifiable statistics from Adobe's Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Opti­miza­tion Sur­veys, which you can freely download and peruse for yourself.

The point I'm trying to make in a BYOD/Consumerization column post is that mobile device use is on the rise, and you should do something about optimizing your site to accommodate those users. Mobile represents a significant number of connections to your site.

Here are the things you should do to optimize the mobile experience on your site:

  • Create a mobile-optimized site

  • Create a mobile app

  • Optimize your site's search capability

  • Enhance your site's overall user experience

  • Test the site.

If mobile devices truly represent one-fourth to one-third of your total site interaction, imagine how many sales opportunities you're missing by not spending a bit of money to convert those frustrated surfers into eager spenders.

You don't have to imagine too much. Adobe has done the math for you.

  • Companies with mobile-optimized sites triple their chances of increasing mobile conversion rate to 5 percent or above

  • Companies spending more than 25 percent of their marketing budgets towards optimization are twice as likely to enjoy high conversion rates

  • Site search is a fundamental aspect of findability, which includes tactics such as keyword matching; displaying products/content based on ratings, highest conversions, or promotions; and targeting results based on visitor profile

  • A third of companies in which multiple departments have input testing processes say conversion rates are 5 percent or higher.

I'm not a marketing person, nor do I make any claim to knowing much about it. However, I do understand numbers and I understand what conversion rates are. Doesn't it make sense to spend money where you hope to make money?

Mass mailings have about a one percent return. Other marketing strategies have return and conversion rates in the high single to low double digits. Why not focus your efforts and optimization in an area where you have actual proof and numbers to show you that you will reap a positive return on your investement?

But Adobe's survey results over the past two years show no significant increase in mobile optimization.

Odd. Very odd.

I know that some very clever marketing people read this column. I know because I hear from you. If I were you, clever marketing person, I'd Google the phrase, "Adobe Digital Marketing Optimization Survey", download the results, and create a presentation for the decision makers at your company or for any companies that you represent.

Show the year-over-year results and trends supporting mobile optimization. Also research the number of tablet devices (Android, iPads, Surfaces) that have been sold over the past three years to show the potential number of customers available to purchase products. Adobe has done most of the work for you already.

*I hate the word "epic", but it seemed to fit the ridiculous notion that in 2013, you can have a site that isn't mobile-optimized or offer a mobile app to your customers. I deem "epic" appropriate here.

Editorial standards