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Mobile-First: What does this mean for CRO?

Posted by: Christine Lust / December 10, 2018

What was the last thing you searched for on Google?

Did you use your phone or tablet for the search? If so, welcome. You are part of the majority.

Or did you happen to use your desktop? In that case, you are the minority… and I’m guessing you’re at work. Good for you for reading this article and using your time productively! 😉

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “mobile-first.” It seems to be one of the latest buzzwords floating around the digital marketing world. So what’s the big deal with mobile?

Let me throw some impressive mobile stats your way:

  • Since late 2015, mobile search has passed desktop search and it’s only continuing to rise.
  • Consumers are now spending more than five hours a day on their smartphones.
  • According to BrightEdge, a whopping 57% of all U.S. online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets.

We are undergoing a “mobile revolution”. With this ever growing percentage of users accessing sites via mobile devices, it’s more important than ever to design mobile first.

Take Google, for example. Google recognized this majority shift in mobile usage and in July of this past year, they rolled out a major algorithm change. In short, this modification helps measure the ease of site navigation for visitors using tablets and smartphones. Everything from how user-friendly it is to make purchases, submit a form or call for more information will be taken into account.

Before this update, actions of desktop-based users carried more weight than any others. With this change, Google’s goal is to help encourage online business who have yet to upgrade their mobile experience to a responsive or mobile-friendly web design.

Our SEO team already to a look into how Google’s mobile-first indexing will impact SEO. But what does mobile-first mean from a CRO perspective?

The goal for CRO (conversion rate optimization) is to design a website that improves UX (user experience) and structuring it purposely to maximize the amount of customers converting. So specifically for mobile-first, start off by following these key CRO tips:

Tips for Mobile-First Conversion Rate Optimization:

  • Stay on top of the trend. Making sure your online business is up-to-date with mobile-first indexing will not only help your conversion rates, but also create a better experience for your future prospects’ current needs. The easier the experience, the more likely they are to return.
  • Don’t lag behind competition. Better to do it now than later! Don’t be the last one to jump on the bandwagon or your customers WILL move to an easier user experience… which, unfortunately, will be your competitors.

Wondering how you can stay on top of the trend and ahead of your competition? We can help with that!

Make Sure You’re Following Mobile Best Practices for UX

Don’t know where to start? We have outlined some simple ways to get started with UX best practices in our UX (User Experience) Best Practices + Debunking CRO Best Practices Myth blog. Specifically for mobile-first design, make sure your are applying these UX guidelines to your site:

  • Clear CTA. Your call-to-action (CTA) should be simple as well as strategic in placement and design. Make it obvious, keep it above the fold and have a great call-to-action phrase. Doing this will increase the effectiveness of your CTA.
  • Simplest design. Keep your site’s design clean and easy on the eye. Avoid overwhelming your visitors by using too many CTAs.
  • Contact information. Your contact information (i.e., phone number, support, form, etc.) should be easy to find.
  • Trust points. Showcase your trust points (i.e., industry awards, reviews, etc.). Go on and brag about yourself, your users will be impressed.
  • Checkout and form optimization. Be sure to optimize your forms and checkout experience for maximum conversions. Get rid of any unnecessary fields and avoid fields that cause users to think twice before filling them out.
  • Responsiveness. This is a given. Your site needs to function properly. There is nothing more frustrating than a site which requires endless pinching and scrolling to read content or web forms which are difficult to navigate.

Re-Think Content

Another implication of a mobile-first approach is that content is more important than ever before. We have past the days of stripped back mobile sites and believe it or not, mobile users want the same content-rich experience as desktop users! With this mobile-first shift, we need to re-think content. Keep these pointers in mind when you are focusing on your mobile site’s content:

  • Full content mobile pages. Ensure that the mobile version of your website has all the same beneficial content that exists on your desktop. Give the people what they want!
  • Strategically displayed content. Smaller screens means less screen space (duh!). This will be a challenge for mobile CRO in that the most impactful content needs to be easily accessible on smaller screens for maximum impact.
  • Set image widths. Ensure image sizes fit smaller mobile screen. This will help avoid the awkward pinching and scrolling.
  • Engaging media. Use a variety of media to create a better experience for a larger range of visitors. Audio and visuals in particular perform well on mobile.
  • Shorter paragraphs and collapsable content. Using shorter paragraphs and breaking up text with rich visual media will reduce the likelihood of users becoming overwhelmed. Long and wordy posts may work on desktop, but that is not the case for mobile devices.
  • Crawlable content formats. Since crawlers can’t read visuals, headers should not be designed in an image, but as separate text.
  • CRO and SEO work together. SEO focuses on getting the right traffic to your site and CRO focuses on converting that traffic.

CRO Processes Must be Changed

Aside from UX best practices and an emphasis on content, a mobile first approach to CRO changes the process itself. The very first step to the 10 Point Conversion analysis we use at Brain Bytes Creative is determining what percentage of traffic is mobile vs desktop. This determines how we go about analyzing and optimizing the site. If over half of the traffic is mobile, we analyze our 10 points from a mobile perspective first.  

Digging deeper into the BBC Conversion Analysis, we would look at all 10 areas of analysis and ask ourselves the important questions keeping mobile-first in mind. Such as analyzing for Distraction, a more simplistic and easy to digest mobile design might be perfect for viewing on a mobile device, but may come off as too empty for the desktop version.

We also highly recommend mobile-first for your ecommerce site. Of all the things people did on their phones last year, mobile shopping was the fastest growing segment (up 54% year over year). To stay cutting edge in an industry that is so saturated, designing mobile-first is a bare minimum requirement for online businesses.

The Proof is in the Pudding

As part of a multifaceted CRO strategy, a mobile-first approach can help you stay cutting edge and see major lifts that you are looking for. At Brain Bytes Creative, our CRO program has embraced the mobile-first approach and put the new process and tips into practice. A great CRO success we’ve had was decreasing a client’s bounce rate by 10% for mobile and 15% for tablet by removing an alert bar that detracted from the user experience.

For another example of how the BBC approach to CRO can give your conversions a boost, check out this CRO Case Study and learn how we skyrocketed lead generation by 63.83%!

Agencies will be specialized enough to stay on top of trends like mobile-first. An agency can give you access to a team of experts and help you stay competitive and relevant. Here are some tips for choosing the right CRO agency for you.


Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new. Looking to give your conversion a lift? Brain Bytes Creative offers specialized conversion rate optimization services using funnel analysis, user flow optimization, heatmapping, session replays, form analytics, and optimization, and of course, A/B testing. Read more about our CRO Services or contact us here!

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