Anyone who works in m-commerce will almost certainly have experienced the COVID surge phenomenon for themselves. From the second quarter of 2020 onwards, lockdowns implemented across the planet led to a dramatic rise in web traffic that rippled across laptops, desktops, tablets and mobile devices. Intellimize has reported that between March and May 2020, website traffic increased by a head-spinning 119%, with that rate being an even higher 137% on mobiles.

All of which is nice, but – as your finance team will confirm – it isn’t what makes your business grow. That’s down to sales, which means you need that traffic to convert. The problem is that conversion rates haven’t increased at the same pace as traffic has, quite the opposite. As Intellimize puts it, “we’ve seen web traffic marching ever upward and conversion rates move fairly steadily lower.” This drop is largely because these more casual lockdown web visitors are browsing to fill free time and without conscious intent to buy. The conversion fall has mostly been seen in desktop interactions – where conversion rates plummeted from 3.65% in the last quarter of 2019 to 2.59% in the third quarter of 2020, according to Kibo Monetate research – but m-commerce specialists shouldn’t rejoice. Mobile also saw a small fall, from 2.06% to 1.86%.

Many m-commerce businesses may not be overly concerned. Even if conversion rates have dropped, the increase in traffic means that overall sales will still have climbed for most. Smarter operators, however, will be keeping their eye on that 1.86% commerce rate and working on a plan to increase it. Even small conversion rate increases can lead to huge profit boosts. Here are five simple steps to improve your mobile conversion rate.

Design with a “mobile first” mentality.

It sounds obvious, but it’s remarkable how many businesses still haven’t worked out that mobile is the primary route most of your customers will take towards a sale – the highway, in other words, not a secondary scenic route. Given this, you should make sure you design your mobile experience like a highway, with large and clear signs telling your customers where they should go, and giving them plenty of chances to take a turn-off to buy. Invest substanial time and effort into making your content work on smaller screens, with a concise but detailed menu showcasing your key products or services. Opportunities to convert should be visible at all times and easy to access. Put these measures in place and watch your conversion rates jump.

Push your upload speeds down.

The Internet may have shortened all our attention spans, but they seem to be at their shortest on mobile. As Forbes magazine puts it, “mobile users are notoriously less patient than their desktop counterparts, so website speed is everything.” Forbes says that 53% of visitors will leave if your site takes longer than three seconds to load. Yes, that’s right – three seconds. Less time than it takes to read this sentence. Fortunately, there are simple ways to improve your upload rate even if you don’t have access to a UX specialist or web designer. Choosing a mobile-friendly theme from your website service provider is an excellent start, as is enabling browser caching so that repeat visitors get a much smoother, speedier experience.  Google also provides a whole set of additional tools to speed up your website experience on their Speed Hub for developers, which will help you analyse your mobile speed and make small adjustments for big results.

Check out your check-out experience.

According to The Drum, the single “biggest issue behind lower mobile conversions is the checkout,” and perhaps the biggest reason so many m-commerce businesses fail is that they set up the obstacle of requiring registration before a consumer can pay. This can often seem like hard work for mobile shoppers, particularly without access to a full-sized keyboard, and the worst thing about it is that it’s not even necessary. Simple guest registration can be enabled, and more detailed registration or information collection can take place after the purchase has safely been made. Allowing users to autofill address and payment details saved on their phone’s browser is another way of reducing the friction of the check-out experience, and will have an instant positive impact on your conversion rates.

Get up close and personal

Personalisation of your mobile site is something to be handled with care. If you tailor your site too closely to the individual, the overall result can be more creepy than comforting, but if used smartly it can raise your conversion rates. When mobile users come to your website, start by asking them what topics they are interested in. Getting to know users encourages them to make repeat visits, which can lead to increased conversion rates over time. Marketing Charts reports that visitors who view three pages of personalised content have a conversion rate of 3.4%, double the rate for those who were exposed to two pages of personalised elements. 

Win your visitors’ trust

Mobile users are often more wary of buying than desktop users, most likely because so many mobile users now have passwords, login information, and financial details stored on their phones. Wariness and mistrust translates directly into lower conversion rates. If you are looking for ways to improve trust, you can secure your website using HTTPS, which is often a quick win by signalling to savvy consumers that they can buy safely. Trust badges which declare any ratings, website security, and guarantees to customers can also be highly reassuring, though these are much more effective when provided by a known and credible partner than simply designed yourself or bought off the rack online. A final, extremely effective way of increasing trust is displaying testimonials and reviews from previous customers to prove your legitimacy. The fact that other customers have used your site and been happy at the end of their journey is probably the single most powerful way of pushing your future customers towards that buy button.