How Do I Determine the Mobile Performance for My Site?

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It doesn’t matter if your eCommerce site went live yesterday or 10 years ago – the first question your CEO wants to ask every time she sees you is, “What you can you do to increase (my) revenue?”

A fairly safe, predictable and vague response is “Improve mobile performance”, to which any CEO should push back with “Ok – how are we doing now, what should we do differently, and what kind of bump can we expect after we give you a suitcase full of cash?” Gulp.

Does any of this resonate with you, but you’re not sure where to start? If so, this post might be for you. Looking for specific solutions and strategies? You’ll want to check back in this space for future content as we’re just trying to get you out of the starting blocks today. (And, fun fact: we’re starting a program with one of our clients which will likely lead to a few more posts dealing with the nuts and bolts.

Arguably revenue is the only metric that ultimately matters and is a critical bit of data to measure against, but this is normally a lagging indicator. Some initiatives are designed to see immediate results – think special sales, coupon codes and targeted promotions – but the value of these drop considerably once they run their course without other factors in play. Picked up a new customer because you offered 50% off your best-selling product? (Almost) anyone can do that – but how do you get them to return and pay full price? That way, you don’t lose money on every transaction in the future. How does one create a long-term strategy that doesn’t rely on sales gimmicks to be successful?

Since we’ve already tipped our hand and suggested improving our site in the mobile realm – how do we begin?

A good place to start with regards to measuring mobile performance is speed – i.e. page load times. This may seem like a straightforward metric– but we’ll come back to that.

The speed of one’s mobile site seems like an absolute – the question of “How long does it take for your homepage to load?” is fairly straightforward on the surface. Unfortunately, your users do not all enjoy a uniform level of service or equipment, and the tools used to provide this measurement will differ slightly in their results. At this stage however, we’re just trying to establish a baseline to enable us to track progress. Page Speed Insights from Google, Screaming Frog, SEMRush, Hotjar, and Crazy Egg are all excellent tools to provide that initial benchmark. Examine a few, run some tests, record your data and do some analysis. There are several others available if you get really excited about it, but in order to show progress you need to use the same tool(s) each time and track the same pages. 

Circling back – think of this measurement like the speedometer in your car. Digital dash or not, just because it says you’re going exactly 67 miles per hour, your true speed is very likely a few percentage points off. Also, some of these tools only simulate a mobile experience and you’ll want to run several tests to obtain a range of values rather than a single number. You also might see different results depending on the time of day or day of the week. Consistency is key to demonstrating real progress in your program, so it’s important to record the “when” as well as the “what” with your speed metrics.

Small side note: How fast should your site be? Google shoots for ½ second measured with their own internal tools. Good luck to you. 5 seconds is fairly average across different industries, but today’s customer starts losing interest after 3 – so what’s your starting point? You can find all sorts of research that purports to show you what percentage of traffic you gain or lose with every tenth of second in either direction – the point however is that people hate slow websites and mobile users are even less patient. A little extra incentive in all this is that Google’s search algorithm is “mobile first” and page loading time is a factor-which as side effects go is a pretty good thing. A faster mobile site = better page rankings from Google and other search engines. Your users are happy because the pages load quickly and your VP of Marketing is happy because you’ve moved into the top 5 for high value search terms.

Like most things in life, there are diminishing returns. Are you spending 10’s of thousands to shave milliseconds off your load times? If so, a) I’d love to have your budget to play with or b) more likely there are other areas you should allocate your resources to – like usability.

Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Hubspot Website Grader,, and are other good tools to get you started. Some require more skill to extract meaningful results, but the benefit is that they can be more precise in their measurements as they apply to your business and website. Many will run a series of automated tests on your site in the mobile realm and spit out values that have been calculated from many different metrics to give you gamified scores and recommendations. Which solutions you ultimately choose to leverage will depend upon your skill level, company resources (both money and time) and level of commitment. What’s your situation? Big budget or modest? Looking for incremental gains or life-changing ones?

What metrics are you currently tracking? CTR (Click through rate)? Time on Site? Unique Visitors? Pages per Visit? Abandoned Carts? Basic search results? – Be sure and separate out Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet and you are off to a good start – what tendencies are you noticing? Where do you see opportunities?

Let’s replay that first scenario from the beginning – this time your response is “our mobile site loads in 3.4 seconds and I think we can get that down to 1.6 by tackling some basic issues we uncovered last week. This will increase our mobile conversion rate from .7% to 3% simply by not frustrating our users and keeping them on our site longer. The conversation rate on our desktop site is over 15%, so we have a good target there. If we can get our mobile conversion rate to even half that, we should see a bump in our revenue by 29%. When would you like to begin?”

When is the best time to begin optimizing your mobile site? Yesterday. Do you know when the next best time is?

If a journey of a thousand steps begins by establishing some baseline KPIs, what should you do? Fire up a browser, open up some of the tools mentioned above and plugin in your site’s URL. It won’t get any easier next week, and your competitors won’t be sitting still waiting for you to catch up.

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