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The Key to Mobile Success? Think Visual

BestForYou/Adobe Stock

BestForYou/Adobe Stock

Mobile is a gorgeous world full of potential. The only problem is, we haven’t exactly figured it out yet.

We know it’s incredibly popular: Consumers are now spending 3.1 hours a day on their mobile devices, up from 1.6 hours a day five years ago. At the same time, U.S. desktop conversion rates sit pretty at 4% while smartphone conversions languish at 1.3%.

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Clearly, we need to look at mobile as its own challenge — many practices that work on desktop won’t translate to the micro screen. Mobile has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, and we should devise content accordingly.

As it turns out, there’s one framework that works particularly well for mobile: namely, the idea that mobile = visual. Here’s a tip from eMarketer’s Visual Commerce 2017 report:

With its shorter sessions, small screens and increasingly powerful cameras, mobile favors visual platforms and services.

Let’s unpack that and see why visuals are the language of mobile:

1. Short sessions rule

When you find yourself in dull moments — for example, when you’re sitting on the train or waiting in line for coffee — you pull out your smartphone to occupy yourself. Mobile devices are perfect in these situations, and it’s no wonder why 37% of smartphone sessions last less than a minute.

This is deceptively useful information. Since mobile sessions are typically brief, we might guess most consumers aren’t sitting down to read War and Peace when they use their smartphones. Instead, most users are looking for quick shots of content. They want “snackable” material, or content that’s short and sweet.

There’s a specific type of content that fits the bill: visual content. Images and videos communicate more efficiently than words. Facebook posts containing images, for example, get 2.3 times more engagement than normal text posts — ostensibly because they’re more eye-catching and easier to digest. So, if you’re trying to capture someone’s attention during a small window, using visuals is your best bet.

2. Mobile devices have smaller screens. Embrace it

It’s easy to read text on a desktop screen, but that’s often not the case on a smartphone. This is because mobile devices simply have less screen space to work with. It’s no fun having to squint to read microscopic text; neither is awkwardly pinching a screen to enlarge tiny words.

The solution isn’t to find a better way to throw gobs of text onto mobile websites. Instead, think of what text you can eliminate by using visuals instead. A well-made video can easily replace a big blog post, and a few crystal-clear product images will outperform a mere product description.

If you’re worried consumers will miss all that text, don’t worry — they probably won’t. According to eMarketer’s Visual Commerce 2017 report, “images have become the default language of the mobile area, with consumers now sharing trillions of photos per year via their phones.” Consumers are also watching more video on mobile: By 2019, they’re expected to watch an average of one hour and 21 minutes of video daily, up from 53 minutes in 2014.

The lesson? People love seeing visual media on their mobile devices. Be sure to give the people what they want.

3. Oh, and about that camera…

Sure, mobile has glaring weaknesses compared to desktop. But it has at least one gigantic advantage: It’s a dream to take photos and videos with your smartphone. You can leverage this competitive advantage to increase customer loyalty.

It’s already easy for consumers to create visual media with their smartphones; now, make it easy for them to share their content with you. Encourage them to share photos and videos so other customers can see how they’re using your products. Also, create social media contests that ask customers to submit visual media (hint: photo and video contests get the most engagement).

You can always dream up fun ways to entice users to send photos and videos to you. Amazon, for example, has a new “Outfit Compare” feature — customers send photos of themselves in different outfits, and Amazon’s fashion experts tell them which outfits they look better in.

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Lastly, keep an eye out for new technology that builds upon the mobile camera. Augmented reality (AR) is one development that could revolutionize mobile commerce: Consumers spend up to four times longer on product pages with AR than those without it. It’ll be fascinating to see what other innovations we’ll see in the mobile world.

Curalate helps more than 850 of the world’s leading brands sell online more effectively by creating compelling commerce experiences that adapt to how consumers discover products. On average, our clients achieve: 79% increases in time-on-site, 16% jumps in average order value and 31% increases in conversion rate.

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