Desktop vs Mobile Conversion Rate – Why Desktop Converts Better

Brian Bojan Dordevic
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Though mobile visits account for the majority of drop-ins to webshops, the mobile conversion rate is still way behind those evident in the desktop conversion statistics. Stats show that smartphone traffic to retailers worldwide is 56.2% compared to 34.5% for desktop. Despite such a huge difference in traffic, smartphones are converting at 2.25% while the desktop is converting at 4.81%. That is less than half the rate. Even tablets perform better at 4.06% on average.

It looks like mobile is the preferred option for browsing the internet, but when it comes to the actual act of buying, people still turn to the PC. With this in mind, it would be a huge mistake to say that optimizing your websites for mobile users is not a priority. Smartphones are important for sales conversion since a large portion of mobile visitors will end up buying your product when they get to their PCs or your physical store. They may even buy straight from their mobiles (Don’t forget that mobile still converts, just not as high). According to Google, 64% of smartphone shoppers turn to mobile search for ideas about what to buy before getting to the store. You can be sure that those searches are just as important as the actual moment of purchase.

Desktop vs Mobile Conversion Rate - Why Desktop Converts Better

A smartphone is an excellent browsing tool while a desktop is a better purchasing tool. Whether they are sitting in public transport, on a park bench, or in a coffee shop waiting for their order, mobile searchers are often on the go and not quite ready to make a decision. On the other hand, a desktop user has probably done his research and is now sitting at home in a comfortable chair all out in the buying mood with the mouse in one hand and a credit card in the other.

Our web design agency Chicago believe that another good reason that favors PCs is the size of the screen itself, as it is easier to navigate around a site and view images on a bigger screen. On average, the size of a mobile device is just 4.7 inches, while the typical screen size for a desktop is 15.6 inches. We could also guess that filling out forms is easier when you are typing on a physical keyboard in front of you and you can clearly distinguish all the keys under your fingers.

People are also more likely to buy on the desktop when purchases are more complex, like travel purchases that are more expensive and complicated. Only 18% of travelers complete bookings on mobile.

Desktop vs Mobile Conversion Rate

desktop vs mobile conversion rate

Much of the issue comes down to checkout. The Mobile add-to-cart rate is 10.4%, compared to 12.9% for desktop. These numbers are not so far apart, so we can guess that people are adding to their cart at a similar rate, but some bailout during checkout. I can speak from my own experience when I say that nobody likes registering before beginning a purchase, so providing a guest checkout option could be a way to increase conversion rates and you can always register after shopping. Making forms easier and faster to fill in would also reduce friction, though there are plenty of other ways this could be done as well. Websites should be made in a way to allow auto-filling of address and payment details saved on a person’s phone and provide tools and drop-down menus for postcode lookup to reduce the number of steps customers need to take. It’s all in the details, progressive thinking, small tweaks, and adjustments to make the overall experience better, like defaulting to the numeric keyboard for entering payment card details.

Payment methods can be an issue too. Card details take time to enter and providing alternatives like PayPal, Payoneer, and digital valet can make it easier for mobile shoppers to get through their purchase. 

So, the question presents itself – Should you put significant ad spend into mobile Google Ads campaigns?

Consumers use mobile-specific apps 90% of the time. This means that they prefer interacting with businesses through dedicated apps, rather than the mobile browser. At the same time, if you are not focusing your ad spend on mobile you will be missing out on a significant opportunity. Projections show that mobile ad spend will need to be 72.2% of your digital ads budget if you want to reach an appropriately wide audience for your business. Mobile ads can appear across Google’s network as text ads, image ads, app promotion ads, image app promotion ads, video app promotion ad, and TrueView for app promotion ads. You can even use HTML 5 ads through Google Web Designer. As you can see, there are many ways to deliver your mobile ads, and it doesn’t have to cost you much. Here is how you to proceed:

Learn how to bid

Ask yourself what the maximum amount you are ready to pay for each click is. It is impossible to know for sure that your suggested bid will be higher than the competitors’. Spending your whole PPC budget for the sake of winning in an auction for a single keyword will not get you far. At first, bidding is a calculated guess, and to do it right you will need to spend some time. As you run your campaigns Google gathers device-specific data that you can use to analyze mobile performance and compare it to desktop and tablet. For those campaigns that are doing well, you raise your bid adjustment modifier, and if conversions start dropping, you can always lower it again. For those campaigns that don’t meet your expectations, there are a couple of things to look into:

  • Is the product landing page mobile-friendly?
  • What are the click share reports?
  • What would the performance be if you did things differently?

The smart thing to do is to use Google’s bid simulator to adjust your PPC strategy because it can help you compare what your performance could have been over the past seven days for different bids. This tool makes it easy to quickly check how changes in your maximum CPC could affect clicks, cost, impressions, conversions, and more. It is worth noting that during those simulations, any active bid adjustments for your campaign or ad groups are taken into account.  

learn how to bid


Track both desktop and mobile conversion rates

It is important to monitor the behavior of both desktop and mobile visitors, so you can craft your conversion rate optimization strategies accordingly. Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) is Google’s tool, which tracks clicks and evaluates which ones lead to conversion. Turning this feature on can make you pay up to 30% more for a click Google’s algorithm expects to convert, but it can also reduce your click fee by up to 100%, if the evaluation suggests that a click is unlikely to convert. Handing this kind of power over your budget to a company that makes a living by charging you more for advertising would make everyone uncomfortable, but Google has added the ability to incorporate your own mobile bid adjustment into their ECPE equation. As soon as you get the idea of how bidding works for you, you should switch to manual. Although it is more time consuming and requires a detailed analysis, a manual CPC will improve your control over the budget.

Pay attention to local

If you don’t have a physical store, Google’s Geographic Location report will help you correlate store visits with your mobile ads. You can also target your eCPC so your ads will show more often when a mobile user is near one of your locations. Another great option is Local Inventory Ads, which will show ads to people that are seeking similar products to those that you have in your shop. It can help you improve the user experience by providing directions to your physical store and the pickup today option. A better connection with the local community is a good approach for increasing conversion rates.

Make yourself more appealing

Running a merchant promotion or having good customer reviews and product ratings may be just the thing to separate you from other retailers in your branch of business. Before buying a product, especially if it is expensive, people look for social proof. They want to know what others think of it. Research suggests that most customers trust testimonials the same way they trust their friends. So don’t be afraid to put those in visible places on your website. And to add credibility to customers’ words, show their faces. With their consent, try to record a video that will emphasize the great experience people had while doing business with you. If photo testimonials would better suit your website, feel free to use them instead of videos. You can go even further by showing targeted testimonials depending on the data you collected about the customer. Show them how people with similar preferences feel about you. The goal is to appear trustworthy and professional. To find a perfect combination, conduct A/B tests.

Given the increasing mobile vs desktop usage, it’s crucial to optimize your website for both mobile phones and desktop devices. Remember, the way a customer accesses the internet and experiences your site can significantly impact desktop conversion rates and overall website traffic. A seamless mobile experience is key to engaging the growing number of internet users who prefer browsing on their phones. Additionally, leveraging social media platforms can further enhance your reach and reputation, catering to users who frequently use their mobile devices for social interactions.

Design ads for mobile

This is easier than ever before since Google is no longer forcing your ads to meet specific size requirements. Instead, you have the option of delivering photos and text responsively. This makes your ads look more like native articles and seem less intrusive. However, there is a downside to this – since you don’t have control over how your ad looks anymore – Google does. There is a risk that some elements may be dropped, so you need to make sure your ad contains highly relevant Headline 1 text. In this way, if the Headline 2 gets stripped, you will still have an effective ad. But be aware that scrolling for too long can distract visitors, and as smartphones and tablets have smaller screens than desktop computers – they can show less information before a user needs to perform this action.

design ads for mobile

With this in mind, we can conclude that creating an ad for desktop and then showing it to mobile users through responsive web design is not enough to keep everyone laser-focused. The option that gives you the most control over the look of your mobile ad is creating a unique mobile landing page, completely customized for specific screen sizes. This approach allows you to adjust the amount of text and photos to provide the best possible user experience. To increase the mobile conversion rate, you need to grab visitors’ attention and hold it until they respond to your call to action. Also, keep in mind that people usually scan the page before paying full attention if it manages to intrigue them. The best practice is to place multiple eye-catching CTA buttons across the pages. Every element on your page should contribute to the goal, and testing different combinations will give you better insight into what makes your audience convert.

Final thoughts

As an experienced PPC agency in Chicago, we are sure about one thing: No matter whether your customer is looking on their smartphone or desktop, always make sure that your products and business can be researched and found. Although desktop still beats mobile when it comes to conversion rate, mobile usage is on the rise as we speak and no one knows what the future holds. You should be removing barriers and converting people however they reach you. Each customer is valuable in the purchasing process. He or she should be more focused on the type of product and service you offer than the device they are using.


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