Mobile Conversion: 3 Reasons Why Users Don’t Convert and How to Fix it

Imagine you’re the owner of a large retail store and seemingly overnight the world decides it wants to minimize…everything. So you fall in line and open up a smaller shop next to your big one. You shorten down on product descriptions, hack away at unnecessarily flashy product photos, and even make the buttons bigger on your payment terminals because for some reason everyone that comes to your little shop now has fat finger syndrome. But no matter what you do your little shop never sells as well as your big one. While the world hasn’t undergone such a crazy kind of transformation overnight, for many business owners and webmasters, this scenario seems a little too real with the increasing use of mobile devices. You may be thinking that since you A/B tested for a successful desktop version, then simply using Responsive Design will make your mobile website optimized for mobile conversions too. But really, why would it be? If you start seeing people standing in lines at the supermarket holding open laptops or sitting on desktop towers waiting for the bus, then we can re-open the discussion. But in reality, the way people use mobile devices and desktop differ drastically, especially regarding how they convert. All in all, the mobile conversion rate is just about 1% compared to desktop’s almost 3%. Thus, desktop devices outperform mobile devices in virtually every e-commerce category. We tend to use mobile as more of a research tool and the reason why mobile conversion rates aren’t as high as desktop can be for a variety of reasons.

Biggest Mobile Conversion Blockers for Users

Conversion blockers come in all shapes and sizes and can be different from user to user. Here are three of the biggest mobile conversion blockers that users face.

User Intent in Mobile vs. Desktop Searches

Users on mobile devices perform searches differently and thus have different intent. Google stipulates that 95% of searches with the words “near me” come from mobile devices. These kinds of searches, whether they’re “close by”, “around me”, or “nearby”, mean that people are looking for a solution to their queries in their area which can result in their purchases being made in-store instead of on their mobile device. This is a general symptom of a larger phenomenon, being that mobile searches typically average less keywords than desktop searches. Moreover, a recent survey conducted by SessionM revealed that 90% of in-store shoppers consult their mobile devices while shopping. This is because they’re either comparing product prices, acquiring additional product information, or sifting through product reviews. Even though users didn’t specifically make a purchase on their mobile device, they still used the mobile website to educate themselves about their purchases. It’s a kind of pseudo conversion in a way, an assist from the mobile website to the in-store conversion. So while users may be converting less on mobile devices, they still use their mobile devices in a majority of cases as a research tool to complete their purchases whether it’s in-store or later at home from their desktop devices.

Distractions: Real-world and On-Screen

In the age of multitasking, smartphones are at the pinnacle of distractions. We tend to be on our phones while doing the most menial everyday tasks–from waiting in line to riding the bus. Thus, our concentration can break at any moment; whether it’s something happening in the real world or a push notification coming from Snapchat that pulls us off the page and into another app entirely. Essentially, it comes down to time. How much time does a user have to peruse through a mobile site before they run into a walking and talking real-life distraction? Much less than the average desktop user, who usually has the benefit of a quiet space in the office or at home to make their decisions. But distractions don’t just mean off-page distractions. Having too much clutter on your mobile website in the form of lengthy copy and headlines or a multitude of images that take away from the CTA can cause a decrease in mobile conversions. Reduce the informational dump on users on your mobile sites and they’ll be less likely to become distracted. Give them what’s necessary and nothing more.

Real and Perceived Friction

Perceived friction happens when users get to your mobile pages and become discouraged because the buttons seem too small to click, the images are too small to see, the headlines are unclear, or there are too many form fields that look like they’ll require an FBI background check to complete. Basically, anything that, in the user’s mind, will be too time-consuming and strenuous to complete can be considered perceived friction. Real friction is when the interface literally makes it too difficult to complete certain tasks. Your buttons are too close, and users click on the wrong link, they have to pinch and zoom in on certain items to read, or page loading times are extremely slow. Whether real or perceived, literal or imagined, these types of problems can cause users to abandon the site altogether. However, there are methods that businesses’ have come up with to combat the above-mentioned grievances to increase their mobile conversion rates.

Increasing Your Mobile Conversion Rate

Let’s start with how you choose to construct the mobile version of your website.

Responsive Web Design

Google first recommended that you use responsive web design; however, using it is not a ranking factor. Responsive Web Design (RWD) means that your website’s pages are adjusted according to screen size. Thus the same version of your site is displayed to users on desktop or mobile devices. This allows you to have your website on one URL, which is beneficial for SEO purposes as all of your link building efforts remain intact. However, it also means that you’re not providing users with a unique mobile experience, which leaves them with the same on-page elements as your desktop users. Ultimately, what converts with desktop doesn’t always carry the same implications for mobile.

Adaptive Web Design

Adaptive Web Design (AWD) or also known as Dynamic Serving means that you essentially create different HTML versions of a webpage that are displayed to users based on their devices. This allows you to offer a unique mobile experience to users and you can optimize each page this way for conversions based on user behaviors on each device. You’ll notice the slight different within each larger screen and the somewhat drastic difference between the tablet and smartphone versions. The mobile version is clearly optimized for mobile conversions as it is less cluttered, uses larger buttons, and allows for scrolling in a vertical manner. Dynamic serving allows for you to publish different content within the same URL and will not affect your SEO. However, AWD will cost more to maintain as it has to be consistently updated to be compatible with new devices, needs a unique HTML code per device, and requires different content for each depending on your strategy. In other words, it requires a lot more time and manpower. From a conversion standpoint, AWD is the clear winner as you can optimize your content visually and rhetorically to benefit users and increase mobile conversion rates. Like dynamic serving, you can optimize separate content within each page for mobile or desktop users. With this method, the server will detect what device the user is on and redirect them to the appropriate page. Unlike dynamic serving, having separate URLs can affect your SEO as you’ll have to link build and essentially perform SEO for two separate websites. This again adds to more stress in terms of having the time and resources to maintain two versions of your website. Also, if you have faulty redirects, users coming from mobile devices may be mistakenly directed to desktop pages and vice-versa. Thus, separate URLs can be great for increasing mobile conversion rates as you can streamline a user’s experience based on a device; however, the cost and time to maintain it is much more difficult.

On-Page Factors That Affect Mobile Conversion Rates

While most of us don’t have fat finger syndrome or the eyes of a senior citizen, many users still encounter a lot of problems with on-page elements as described above. But never fear! There are plenty of ways you can mitigate any user frustrations and expedite their experience on your mobile-friendly website.

Optimize Your Product Descriptions and Images Together

Nobody likes having to tap three times to check out a product description, view its image, and then go back to the CTA. In the words of Sweet Dee: “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. While it’s completely true you have to be economical with space on mobile websites, it’s possible to do it in a visually pleasing manner without losing the integrity of your image resolution and downgrading your copy to a few ineffectual words. Here you have a clear, high-resolution image along with an effective product description in an easily readable font. The “customized item” link is between two non-tappable elements so the risk of a user accidentally tapping the wrong link is minimized. They also use white space effectively to showcase the image and feature a discreet coupon at the bottom for users to get. With this kind of display, mobile users have all the information within a small space and can easily convert with just a few clicks.

Maximize Mobile-Only Features

Mobile only features are elements or attributes that can only be performed on mobile devices. Use these whenever possible to create a more fluid user experience and increase your mobile conversion rate. Tap-and-hold: One feature I really like for e-commerce websites is the tap-and-hold attribute, which lets users simply press down on an item to have a popup appear so they can send it straight to their shopping cart. That means less CTA taps and the user doesn’t have to be removed from the page. The click-to-call for Shake Shack is an easy to see button that doesn’t require much effort from the user. The other contact page has the phone number in small print that isn’t so easy to see above a form that requires a lot more information. By enabling users to quickly get in touch with your business, you’ll minimize frustrations and increase your conversions from mobile users that want to know more about your business.Mobile payment: By adding instant mobile payment options, you can increase your mobile conversions with the apps listed below. To learn how to allow these forms of payment on your website, simply click the links below. Users have finally made the journey through your mobile website and are now ready to purchase. Great! Now don’t scare them off with forms that resemble hospital intake documents. Forms on desktop websites can scare users away if their not optimized correctly. With mobile conversion rate optimization, it’s even more important to make the process as painless as possible. Keep things simple with processed steps and the minimal amount of form fields required to get the information you need. You can also break it up into progress indicators as seen below: Progress indicators that are used with only a minimal amount of form fields can be great to let user’s know the process is short and sweet. You can also stick to traditional methods of forms on a single page as long as you’re asking for required and relevant information only. Avoid too many dropdowns as they aren’t very user-friendly on mobile devices. Easy-to-use payment options like the ones listed above are also great to increase your mobile conversion rates.

Monitoring Mobile Conversion Blockers on Your Website

Just like with your desktop website, you should use a conversion analytics tool like Unamo Conversion to view how mobile users interact with your website. Specifically, mobile heatmaps can show you any conversion blockers that may be discouraging users from becoming conversions. You can also use Google Analytics to track the demographics of users coming to your mobile website to see if you have any differences among conversion rates with certain groups of users.


While desktop still owns the online conversion marketplace, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize your mobile website to be as seamless and pain-free as possible for mobile users. Increasing your mobile conversion rate doesn’t have to be fool’s gold; it can be a very profitable outlet for your business.