Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Tackling Tablet Traffic

Enhanced Campaigns have brought a number of great new features like location based bid adjustments, Group-level sitelinks and mobile specific Ads but it's what's been taken away that has many advertisers up in arms.  At the time of writing it is not possible to run a Search Campaign that doesn't have at least the potential to show on Desktops and Tablets.  This restriction obviously affects advertisers who were previously targeting only mobile devices but it also affects those who were targeting Computers (Desktops) and not tablets and it's these Accounts in which I'm most interested.

Let's look at a fictional Campaign where some lengthy historical data shows that while the Campaign has a healthy conversion rate and a positive ROI (Return on Investment) the vast majority - perhaps all - of those conversions and that return come from Computers.  You look at a segmented view showing devices and can see that 30% of your monthly budget is being spent on tablet clicks but you have no recorded conversions for tablets.  What do you do?

You really have two choices.  You can rant and rave at people you meet in the street, your pets, your partner and anyone else that appears to be listening, that not being able to remove tablets from your Campaigns is killing your business.  Or you can ask why your tablet traffic does not appear to convert.

There are some specific circumstances where a tablet would not be a suitable conversion platform but in many cases a tablet user can be considered to be very similar to a desktop user.  There's plenty of evidence to show that tablet use is increasing at a prodigious rate - I have more than one friend who no longer use their desktop machines but spend all their surfing time on tablets.  I myself now spend most of my leisure browsing (what little there is of it!) on my Nexus 7.  So let's consider some reasons why tablets don't convert.

#1  Are you sure they're not converting?  It's an easy mistake to make to look simply at the "Conversions" column in AdWords and see a big fat 0.  But is this accurate?  Many advertisers overlook the importance of Search Funnels.  Not all conversions happen from a single click.  Some convert from an AdWords click followed by an organic search, others from multiple AdWords clicks or a combination of these options.  It's entirely possible that while your visitors are not converting on their tablet devices, these Ad impressions and clicks may be "assists" for a later conversion on another device.  It's not hard to imagine someone searching for a product while away from home, finding your site and the product they want, but not completing the sale then for any number of reasons.  They may well come home and complete the sale on their Computer so it looks like another sale for the desktop but in fact it started with the tablet.

#2  Is your site tablet friendly?  At the very basic level this means can your site be viewed reasonably on a tablet device, does it resize properly, and is the navigation finger/touch friendly?  There's one site I use regularly that on a tablet has an important drop-down menu displayed as a millimetre wide down-arrow right at the far right edge of a tablet screen - you need a cocktail stick to click it - so it's worth checking that it doesn't just look alright but is actually usable.  Make sure your dialogue boxes position correctly and can be moved to accommodate screen keyboards (has anyone tried to change the date range on Analytics via a tablet?  You end up chasing the calendar picker across the screen).

Think about things like checkboxes or "fly-out" menus that may not work properly (or easily) on a tablet.

More importantly, does your site offer useful features on a tablet view?  Along with many other commentators I'd thoroughly recommend creating a website specifically tailored to mobile/tablet devices so the visitor is not just looking at a smaller version of the desktop site.  However, if you do this, make sure you  don't take things away from your customers.

I use a well-known, very rapid, accounting package online for my accounts and I'm generally very happy with it.  Better yet, apparently, if you access your books via a tablet, you see a mobile specific site with big bright buttons to click.  Great!  The problem is that this mobile version lacks many of the most useful features of the full site and to rub salt into the wounds, there's no way you can view the full site!  There's no link to the full site and it appears to ignore requests via Chrome to display as a desktop.  It's a classic example of good intentions leading to a poor experience so don't make the same mistake.

#3  Is your site just too slow?  Although a lot of tablet users may be on reasonably fast connections, many may not, especially in public areas where a single connection may be shared by many people.  Make sure your key pages are as fast to load as they can possibly be, don't weight them down with images or videos.

#4  Are you making checkout too hard?  Filling in forms with a screen keyboard can be tiresome so make sure you don't make it harder than it needs to be.  If your customer details are recorded following a sale, offer the ability to pre-load addresses and other details via a simple login.  If you must use a new form each time, make sure completed information is retained if there's an error or the customer moves away from that page.

So don't just throw your (or your clients') toys out of the pram because you can no longer exclude tablets from your Campaigns.  Consider what you could be doing with that traffic instead, it may be more worthwhile.

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