At the turn of the millennium, Harvard Business Review stated that experimentation lies at the heart of every company’s ability to innovate.
Fast forward over 20 years, and despite many brands valuing the importance of continually evolving digital products to drive growth, many are still failing to embed the strong internal culture of experimentation needed to increase progression and truly innovate.
By failing to have the right people, processes and technologies in place, we often find that an experimentation strategy and roadmap for digital optimisation isn’t prioritised alongside other business-as-usual digital activity streams, hampering innovation and leaving brands to play catch up with the competition.
A recent Forrester study into experimentation practices of software teams found that 31 percent of all respondents believed feature releases were ‘mission critical’. However, only six percent believed experimentation was ‘mission critical’.
And one area where the need for experimentation is particularly acute – and often neglected – is on mobile web. With mobile web now responsible for almost half of internet traffic worldwide, it’s critical brands take note. Here’s why:
1. Customers expect seamless experiences
Gone are the days where mobile apps could afford to have rich functionality while mobile web experiences lacked the basics. Customers expect to have a seamless experience across all devices.
For instance, when a customer is looking to book a flight, they want to be able to book the flight via an app, amend their booking on desktop and also have the ability to check-in and add extras on mobile web.
The 2021 Forrester Global Trust Imperative report found that 65 percent of all respondents said that they expected companies to have an app while 69 percent said they expect companies to make their websites mobile friendly.
2. Mobile is global
Mobile is still growing across the world, which means more customers are able to interact with your brand than ever before. The global internet population has now reached five billion active users (53 percent of the world’s population) with over four billion people browsing on their mobile devices.
Moreover, in terms of device split, in 2021, mobile devices were responsible for almost half of the internet traffic worldwide and there is expectation it will become the most used device in the near future. It’s no wonder that many businesses are looking to optimise their mobile web experience to enter new markets and unlock new revenue streams before investing in a physical presence in a new country, to first understand if there is international demand for your products.
Look no further than Kim Kardashian’s shapewear empire SKIMS, who soft launched in international markets with established local stockists before offering ‘no hidden fee’ international shipping on their native website. While star power alone may be enough to drive international shoppers to the site, an unstable ecommerce experience on mobile web may result in customers bouncing from the landing page before they even hit ‘add to basket’.
3. Mobile users behave differently to desktop and tablet
As Engineering.com reports that desktop PC and workstation sales declined 26% in Q3 last year, it’s worth remembering that many of your customers may not have access to a desktop and rely purely on a mobile device for their internet usage. Their behaviour is very different to those who use a combination of different devices to purchase. This alternative behaviour impacts how brands need to design, build and optimise their digital products.
A recent study revealed that desktop users spend on average 16 minutes browsing websites on their desktop versus 10 minutes on mobile, suggesting that they have less patience for an underperforming experience and your brand has less time to delight and convert these customers.
But don’t fall into the trap of designing only mobile-first - think of how different segments of users are interacting with mobile web. Almost three quarters of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3.7 billion people. Instead, be mobile web-ready with your strategy!
4. New features ≠ a better user experience
Data is key to understanding how your digital product is performing. Unfortunately within many businesses, data analysis is usually conducted within isolated data teams that do not speak to product teams as often as they should.
Experimentation is a powerful tool when it comes to understanding how new features impact the performance of your digital product. For instance, a 10 percent increase in new features does not equate to a 10 percent increase in sales.
Back to our opening statistic from Forrester - 31 percent of software development teams agreed feature releases were ‘mission critical’ whereas only six percent felt experimentation was ‘mission critical’. Analysing data once a feature has gone live means you have no idea whether the feature, seasonality, marketing, consumer habits or simply the economy has impacted your performance.
Furthermore, how are you sure that the feature you have worked on is going to drive more success than a competing feature? Ensure you always have a control group to understand not only how well the feature is performing but if it is negatively impacting the customer experience.
5. Mobile technology is forever evolving
5G, augmented reality, flip phones, fold phones… how do you know your site is performing well across them all? New technology means new opportunities: brands need to experiment on mobile to ensure they are capitalising on the newest technological trends.
Are you ready to serve real time experiences to your customers when 5G becomes mainstream? The only way to keep on top of all the new advancements is to continue to test its viability with your brand and customer experience. Don’t invest time and effort into features that don’t work, run experiments to help inform your feature roadmap and embed experimentation directly within your product lifecycles.
So how do you start building an experimentation strategy?
Experimentation is central to how we enable brands to continually optimise and evolve their digital products. To help businesses identify quick wins to drive conversion and engagement, we offer a free optimisation workshop. Speak to the team to book a workshop and learn how to climb the experimentation maturity ladder.