featured

Does responsive web design make you more money?

By Mark Runyon Posted Apr. 22, 2015 Reading time: 3 minutes

Getting your website mobile-ready is attracting a lot of attention of late. Just yesterday Google rolled out a hefty algorithm change that will put an increased emphasis on mobile-usability as a key ranking factor.

Most businesses are starting to realize that more customers are visiting them on the web via their mobile devices yet few are acting on that potent piece of information. In a recent study of the top 10000 websites, fewer than 19% were utilizing responsive design, and for the top 100 websites that number is a puny 12%. Some of the largest companies in the world are serving up a very poor user experience to about half the users hitting their site.

Some of the largest companies in the world are serving up a very poor user experience

People don’t have the patience to scroll over, expand the screen and try to determine what the meat of the page is on those tiny smartphone screens. They are just going to click the back button and try out your competitor. For the companies who get it, this is a huge opportunity to add value to their customer experience and win new business in the process. For those who don’t, I hear there are some cool new animated gifs they might want to try out.

Now we know Google hates non-responsive websites on par with cruddy link spam. We’ve also established that your visitors have you on an extremely short leash, but are we asking the right questions? After all if a website converts, shouldn’t that be what truly matters? Its time to ask that critical question — do responsive websites actually translate into higher sales? Let’s dig into the raw data and determine if responsive design really is the hat trick of web development.

Are you providing poor customer service? You’ve got well-trained phone reps. You consistently grade out as one of the top customer service providers in your industry. Yet if you don’t have a mobile-ready website, your customers think you don’t care. 48% of users said just that when faced with a traditional website hopelessly trying to adapt itself to a mobile environment. Who can blame them?

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Can you navigate those tiny drop down menus? What about picking a different shirt pattern from those minute color swatches? Can you even get back to the website once you land on the terms and conditions page? Trying to force a traditional website into a mobile environment puts hurdle after hurdle in front of your potential customer that ultimately leading to abandonment of the sale.

Monetate’s numbers seem to support this. One of their metrics looks at conversion rates by device quarter-over-quarter. In the most recent quarter, traditional desktop environments converted 3.11% of visitors while tablets were not that far behind at 2.59%. Smartphone heavily lagged the pack at a paltry 1.01%. When you consider a responsive adoption rate of 19%, is there really a question why this great divide exists?

62% of companies saw increased sales following a conversion to a mobile-ready website

Econsultancy reported that 62% of companies saw increased sales following a conversion to a mobile-ready website. While that number is nice, it is also painfully vague. It begs the question who are these companies that are seeing results and at what magnitude?

WebUndies specializes in sleepwear for the whole family. This e-commerce retailer took the mobile plunge in 2012 and saw sales rally 169.2% over the year prior. Think Tank Photo provides any accessory a photographer could ask for. When they made the switch to responsive, it translated into a 188% increase in revenue. Not only that, but mobile page views jumped 200% with double the transactions originating from smartphones and tablets.

O’Neill Clothing saw…Transactions…up 112.50% on iPhones and 333.33% on Android.

It turns out even surfers are browsing the world wide web while looking for that perfect wave. O’Neill Clothing saw perhaps the most impressive increases after their conversion to mobile-ready. Transactions went up 112.50% on iPhones and 333.33% on Android. Conversions rang in at 65.71% on the iPhone and 407.32% on Android. Total revenue cleared 101.25% on iPhone and 591.42% on Android. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got to wonder what the heck was so different about that Android-optimized platform that resulted in these spectacular gains over iOS…

Still not convinced? Chris Leake captured some random Tweets on Twitter of companies showing off their responsive gains: State Farm saw a conversion rate of 56% post move; Career Builder tweaked their email design and had click through rates run up 20%. While they aren’t the eye popping numbers we saw before, it is still impressive. It also may hint at the fact that responsive design can’t overcome poor design which can blunt your overall results. 

Responsive design doesn’t just boost sales. The Aberdeen Group looked at a bucket of customer engagement metrics including brand awareness, average order value and company revenue. The year-over-year results showed significant improvement across the board. Conversion rates were 8% higher with responsive design (10.9% to 2.7%). Brand awareness increased a whopping 30% (34.7% vs 4.8%). There wasn’t a single category that didn’t see significant gains after the responsive design switch.

With desktop PCs on the decline and mobile devices quickly taking over our lives, people will rely more and more on the convenience of shopping on their mobile devices. Companies that ignore this tidal wave of human behavior will ultimately pay the price in lost revenue and lost market share.

I must admit that I’m oddly curious to witness the aftermath of Google’s mobile algorithm this week. Will massive traffic drops be the lightning strike that forces a change, or will companies continue to go extinct online by not prioritizing their website presentation?

 

Featured image, mobile commerce image via Shutterstock.

Aa