Analyzing the optimizations of mobile sites: who doesn't want an extra of $13k?

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At this moment, the question isn't whether we need to invest in mobile marketing, but - to what degree? Carrie Albright, columnist, explains how marketers should work to increase their sales with smartphone optimization.

During many years the world of digital marketing has wondered: "Could this year be considered as the time of mobile phones?" But now it's already clear that the time of mobile technology has come, moreover, the "Mobile Crisis Epoch" is here to replace it. Now, instead of looking at the mobile audience's potential, we weigh the impact of our approach to smartphone optimization in terms of sales and revenue in the long run.

Google constantly releases updates related to mobile search - they started from simply accessing the market, and now they move to more advanced stuff - bid modifiers, expanded text ads, Voice Search and server optimizations (speed, layout and site responsiveness). Important: Bing also has site speed tester, but currently there is written more content about the mobile optimization for Bing than with Bing.

All this information is widely known, but the question is: "Is it worth it?" How can we explain to our clients or superiors the big impact that our badly loading site has besides having low rankings in Google?

Creating an argument

Remember that smartphones didn't appear yesterday - they already have existed one decade ago. So, our customers and internal departments clearly know this fact. We don't have to prove it - they just need to be sure that our plan to attract smartphone users is working, because mobile marketing isn't the subject of an "annual strategy". Not a QBR slide. Mobile it's something that's there every day.

And if you are directing, or avoiding, or communicating with mobile users, you should practice optimizations, reviews and regular discussions, being respectful to those 77% of American people who own phones with internet access.

Win the argument

The best method to win the argument is to formulate it in things your opponent is interested in. Often these things are dollars, but sometimes this may mean an average number of customers as well.

And then one more question appears: "How can I calculate the amount of sales or the number of potential customers that my company is losing because of the users leaving my poorly optimized site?"

In September 2015, SOASTA has published a study that demonstrated the immediate improvement in the conversion rate when the page load time changed for the better. The author of this study reviewed the performance of almost 4.5 million smartphone users over a month. And as a result, clear connections between site speed performance, conversion rates and visitor retention were detected.

According to the Think with Google Research Study, about 53% of users will leave your site if it takes 3 seconds to load or more. And how this data does this affect your income?

In order to explain this, let's review few examples:

Client 1: Retailer dealer with an AOV: $65

With this client, a retailer dealer, the conversion rate and average page load time have a pretty solid correlation:


Looking from mobile traffic side, a large share of search traffic comes precisely to the slowest page (an average load time of 3.63 seconds) - the conversion rate here: 0.56%. Having in mind SOASTA's proposed improvement in terms of average load time, we plan to improve our page load time by 0.9 seconds.

By changing the page load time to 2.73s., the conversion rate reaches 0.71%. Knowing the average cost of each order and also the fact that we have improved the chance that the customer will remain on the site to make an order, the increase in projected revenues is almost $1,100 per month. This means that decreasing the loading time of the site in 9/10 of a second, customers will generate an additional income of $13,000 each year.

Client 2: A tour operator/travel agency

The site of this client is literally full of images that advertise exotic oddities. We see a fluctuation in page load time and conversion rate depending on the landing page:

The biggest part of the mobile traffic comes through a page with the average load time of approximately 3.19 seconds, with the medium conversion rate of 0.74%. And if we improve this time by at least 0.9%, according to SOASTA, the load time will drop to 2.29 seconds, and the conversion rate will reach 0.93%. Based on the medium number of this page visitors, we can expect 115 additional sign ups (annually) - thanks to retaining those visitors that are interested in our production.

Continuing this list, let's look at one more example:

Client 3: Generation leads in the hospitality business

Many site visitors take into account our competence in their decision-making process, so it’s very important to provide them a positive experience on our site.

Device % of visits Conv Rate avg. Load Time
Smartphone 49% 1.55% 11.90
PC 42% 1.08% 9.78
Tablet 10% 1.50% 5.14

Currently, the percentage of visitors coming to the site via mobile internet is 49% of the total, with the average conversion rate of almost 44%, which is higher than on the desktop.

So we have a question to discuss: if the conversion rate is so strong, should we even worry about optimizing anything?

The answer is “yes”. Good performance by comparison doesn't always indicate a truly reliable performance. Apart from these strong relative conversion rates, the mobile’s average page load time takes about 11.9 seconds. We have this bad loading time due to dynamic content and also on the beautiful pictures all across the website - something that we don’t want to remove (but at the same time we understand that we have to make changes).

Let's suppose we continue to look for possible improvements on the load time for this case. Taking a look into SOASTA - there were significant changes in Conv Rate, when loading time went from five to exactly two seconds.


But since the download time for this client is so significant, we will make an approximate calculation that our optimizations will increase the conversion rate by at least 20% - the result that is visible from the SOASTA range 8.1 to 5.7 seconds.

By having a website that isn’t only compatible with mobile phones, but also has the appropriate speed, in the end we should achieve more than 275 potential customers annually.

How to improve

Having made some convincing predictions on how to load pages can affect your site and the number of visits, we get the following logical question: What should be done to get these results?

There are two possible options:

  1. Superficial optimizations with Google and Bing tools
  2. Deep developer-level improvements 

Superficial optimizations with Google and Bing tools

Friendly people from the biggest US search engines will be happy to provide you a wide range of information and consultations regarding your site's performance. With Bing Webmaster Tools and Think With Google, you only need a few clicks in order to get a detailed information about the next steps you should take.

The speed of a mobile website can usually be measured with a Speed ​​Index (30 seconds or fewer), Page Weight (1MB) and Total Requests (80 or less).

These calls mean:

  • Speed ​​Index: The time that elapses until all visible parts of your page appear.
  • Page Weight: Is your page full of huge photos or it's just fine?
  • Total Requests: How many components of your site are fighting at the same time for the same resources.

Using a tool such as "Test My Site" by Google you don’t just get results on how mobile users experience your site, but you can also get an email with a detailed explanation - what do you need to do to improve.



Deep developer-level improvements

For those who can’t live without accurate data, it’s recommended to use Webpagetest.org, which permits you to test the previously named mobile user experience, from the point of view of several devices (Motorolla, Nexus, iPhone), also it's able to select device speed, browser and much more.

This will not only give you an accurate information about the mobile user experience, but also allow you to find and fix the shortcomings of your site. It’s a pretty strict but fair look that will show you where you should reduce the size of the image, how to set up the loading rules, and it just shows what exactly slows your load time.


The process is very simple: enter the URL that interests you and adjust the location (if you want to) in your browser. The 3G mobile connection settings allow you to get an idea of ​​the average experience of the smartphone (although now we see the growing importance of 4G networks). Also, it has a setting that allows seeing if any component of the site performs better if the site was visited by the user previously.

Now the main thing isn’t the discussion about how big is the contribution mobile users make to the digital marketing world. Now is important to know how much we lose, if we don't achieve the necessary success in mobile marketing. It's so sad to see how our competitors outshine us in mobile experience, meanwhile we are losing so much income because our site is just too slow.

But, despite this, there are resources that give us clear recommendations how we can overcome this crisis. So, let's follow them!

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