What’s the Better Search Landing Page Strategy? Responsive Design vs. Mobile-Specific Landing Pages

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What’s the Better Search Landing Page Strategy? Responsive Design vs. Mobile-Specific Landing Pages

Post by Thomas White, Conversion Optimization Strategist In today’s always connected world, organizations across verticals are faced with numerous challenges in keeping up with growing market demand. Mobile device usage is growing at an astounding pace, but many brands are still scrambling to find the most effective ways to accommodate mobile visitors to their websites. This Briefing explores the pros and cons of (1) responsive design and (2) mobile landing pages in engaging and converting visitors once they click from mobile paid search ads and organic listings. BACKGROUND: MOBILE ADS vs. MOBILE LANDING PAGES Since the launch of Google Enhanced Campaigns in summer 2013, smartphone and tablet ad impressions and clicks have soared:

  • Mobile devices (smartphones + tablets) for Performics aggregate client base accounted for 44.7% of all paid search clicks in Q1 2014 vs. only 33.9% in Q1 2013*
    • Mobile device (smartphone + tablet) clicks rose 55.1% Y/Y
      • Smartphone clicks rose 91% Y/Y
      • Tablet clicks rose 27.2% Y/Y
  • Mobile devices (smartphones + tablet) for Performics aggregate client base accounted for 36.8% of all paid search spend in Q1 2014 vs. 20.8% in Q1 2013
    • Mobile device (smartphone + tablet) spend rose 62.5% Y/Y
      • Smartphone spend rose 129.6% Y/Y
      • Tablet spend rose 24.4% Y/Y

*data from Performics aggregate paid search client base (April 2014) While brands have created more compelling mobile ad experiences to justify spending more money in Enhanced Campaigns to drive more clicks, many haven’t yet focused on optimizing post-click experiences across devices.   For brands to keep investing in mobile, they must see the returns—leads, conversions, ROI. Today, brands must develop holistic landing page strategies for mobile—not just short-term tactics. It’s important to understand that mobile is a relatively new vehicle and tool for marketers. Strategies must be nimble and cater to target markets and performance goals; brands should be developing tailored content and mobile conversion experiences. It’s important to consider that mobile is merely a delivery mechanism through which your users consume content and take action. LANDING PAGES: RESPONSIVE DESIGN vs. MOBILE-SPECIFIC What’s Responsive Design? Responsive design is an approach to web creation that uses flexible layouts, images and cascading style sheet media queries built on one-code base. It detects users’ screen sizes and device orientations and changes the layout accordingly using the same content and the same URL. Responsive design landing page: Pros: 1)      Adapts screen resolution for all devicesCMO 1 2)      Long-term flexibility 3)      Meets the needs of a wider audience 4)      Better for SEO on native site; keeps SEO site equity 5)      Best if incorporated within a website redesign or new site creation; allows future agility Cons: 1)      Extensive development time for existing pages or sites 2)      Expensive IT costs 3)      Heavy load times if not properly designed 4)      Disjointed user experience; mobile site may not render 100% to desktop site Example of responsive design from desktop to mobile: CMO 2CMO 3 What are Mobile Landing Pages? A mobile-specific landing page is a unique and simple landing page designed for mobile advertising. It incorporates all conversion best practices for hand-held devices and usually is hosted on a separate domain (m.domain.com). The main goal of a mobile campaign is typically a call or an app download. However, user needs are changing and recent studies have shown mobile is being used as a research tool for top-of-the-funnel users. Mobile-specific landing page: Pros: 1)      Create unique and targeted pages based on business goals and user metrics (brand, non-brand, new vs. returning, location, behavior)CMO 4 2)      Ability to test and learn (e.g., are people using their phones to research a purchase?) 3)      Speed-to-market; build and host pages quickly 4)      Better user experience; create simplified and streamlined pages Cons: 1)      Generally used for paid search traffic only 2)      Not ideal for organic search; native sites should keep all organic site equity across devices 3)      May not have consistent copy with native site PERFORMANCE RECOMMENDATIONS It’s important to note that every business has different goals and strategies when it comes to mobile. We always recommend testing strategies and making data-driven decisions. In general, we recommend responsive design for:

  • Efficiently building a complete website
  • Maintaining organic equity
  • Providing long-term flexibility
  • Casting a wide net to users

However, in recent A/B split-traffic testing for a lead gen client, Performics observed that mobile-specific landing pagesconverted at a 28% higher rate than responsive design pages for paid search traffic. Therefore we recommend deploying mobile-specific landing pages for paid search to enable:

  • Creating more personalized experiences
  • Streamlining landing pages for the most desired actions
  • Fostering a test-and-learn environment
  • Fueling speed-to-market
  • Compelling visitors to action with streamlined page design and value prop messaging
  • Leveraging data-driven findings from paid search landing pages where applicable

Ultimately, using responsive design or mobile-specific landing pages depends on business goals, budget and timing. It’s critical to have a mobile landing page solution in place that meets your brand’s business needs. To find which landing page strategy is best for you, please contact your Performics Performance Content Team today    

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