Quick History of Mobile Conversion / Where We Are

Since the dawn of mobile use cases in e-commerce over a decade ago, those of us in the trenches everyday as merchants or agency team members have seen desktop conversion rates superior to those of mobile. We’ve seen our share of e-commerce visitors increase on mobile and we’ve witnessed Google changing its algorithm so that search results favor mobile-friendly content. We see the millennial generation doing just about everything on their phones; and now that they are established in the workplace we also see them engaging in B2B work and e-commerce using their phones as a primary device too. Yet many companies continued to design on desktop first and not worry about the mobile conversion rate because historically it was so much lower than the desktop conversion rate. We saw average desktop conversion rates at 2-4% and mobile conversion rates for the same sites at .5% or .7% but seemingly always lower than 1%. Then something happened.

At some point in the last 24 months or so we witnessed our site visitor device breakdown stats changing. Mobile became dominant. This was most likely due the eventual impacts of Google changing its indexing algorithm to favor websites with solid mobile-friendly interfaces. Starting in 2018 we heard from many of our merchant partners and we saw on their analytics accounts mobile users becoming the dominant site visitors…we see a number of B2C AND B2B sites we manage where the breakdown between mobile and desktop visitors in commonly in the range of 54%-46% and even 65% mobile on some B2C sites. The impact of this is that depending on which expert you listen to your mobile conversion rate should be over 1% and now closing in on 2%. What does this mean for merchants moving forward?

Review Your Analytics and Understand How Those Mobile Conversions Happen

Make sure your analytics is set up in a way that allows you to view Sales Funnels for both mobile and desktop visitors. Every business is different but you can truly learn a lot by analyzing the steps visitors take to conversion and how / when they leak out of your funnels.

Look at your ESP to Get Mobile Insights from Campaigns

Many Email service providers (ESPs) including Klaviyo, Mailchimp and Hubspot provide details of how your email campaign recipients have interacted with your e-commerce site post-campaign. Review these interactions and plan on any design adjustments that help to close up conversion gaps based on your findings. Why? Email is predominantly viewed on mobile devices now across all sectors of the economy and across most demographics worldwide.

Design for Mobile First

It’s time to start looking at adopting a “mobile first” design process – or at a minimum looking at both mobile and desktop at the same time. “Design” means looking carefully at your mobile showrooming, mobile browsing, and mobile transaction use cases together with current analytics in hand so you can optimize mobile experiences for use cases that are the most transaction-prone: these include quick one or two click sessions like approving purchase in a series of subscriptions, approval of a quote, approval of a wish list. Designing for social-to-mobile use cases including capturing of visitors from Instagram and Pinterest are also key use cases to consider now that “learn more” and Buy now” links are available from paid ads on these sites.

Continuously Measure and Adjust

It’s important to continually measure and adjust for changing mobile user sessions. We are in a period of rapid change as device capabilities change, e-commerce functionality changes make it easier for mobile conversion rates to rise. Make sure that evaluating your mobile use case measurements is a part of your regular analytics review.


Mobile conversion rates are rising so make sure your team understands the impact of changing mobile use cases and focus on making the simpler use cases mobile-friendly so that there is no need for a user to switch devices.