American Marketer


Tablet optimization tips as PC sales are cannibalized

February 6, 2013

Tom Waterfall is director of optimization solutions for EMEA at Webtrends


By Tom Waterfall

Tablet owners are a lucrative segment. They have more disposable income and are driving conversion rates that are closer to, and even higher in some cases, than what we see on desktops.

At the end of the day, data points to tablets cannibalizing PC sales and marketers are starting to take note. This is why tablet optimization will be a hot topic of conversation in the marketing industry this year.

Few commandments
To maximize the tablet platform, brands need to understand how tablet optimization will fit into the overall marketing mix.

For example, should tablet optimization be a small part of an overall strategy, or should marketers be prepared for the inevitability of it becoming an integral part of their testing program? Is there already traffic along these devices? What is the revenue potential?

If you are a retailer, consider that you could be getting less traffic via tablet than mobile, but because of the tendency of tablet owners to drive higher average order values, the overall opportunity with tablets could be more lucrative. How is the behavior of a smartphone customer different than that of a tablet customer?

The goal with smartphone traffic, for example, could be to facilitate visitor usage of store or branch locators, whereas with the tablet you may want be solely focused on increasing shopping cart sizes.

As the tablet becomes a viable source of revenue for brands, marketers will begin to pay more attention to their optimization strategies and start testing to find out what works.

Here are four trends that will bubble up in 2013:

Marketers will address the Flash Issue: Fix and test the things that are broken

Are you delivering Flash-enabled movies or photos to tablet visitors?

For many marketers, the answer is yes.

Right now, many brands are ostracizing mobile visitors who use devices that are not Flash-enabled, but in the coming year we will see them begin to fix the issue by implementing an optimization solution to replace the black-screen-of-death that a non-Flash device user sees with a more acceptable image and message.

The Converse store took a step in approaching the issue by displaying a customized image:

Converse is acknowledging that the user needs Flash and serving a customized image.

However, what would be even better is to serve up an optimized experience, which is one that does not require Flash so the customer can continue shopping.

We will begin to see marketers make these small, but crucial changes to their optimization strategies as more consumers become comfortable using tablets as shopping tools.

Marketers will step outside the box: Evolve traditional practices to fit the tablet screen
It is the era of tablets and smartphones. Translation: things are relatively untested in the site optimization space – be creative, innovative, do whatever you want.

Marketers know that calls to action should be big enough to be visible and easy to click on, whatever the device.

While some of the standard-button best practices should not be completely thrown out of the window, there is more room for creativity, so marketers should begin testing some of their out-of-the-box ideas to find out what works.

For example, why not make the “go to next step” button on the basket page in the form of a slide action? It makes the experience truer to the touchscreen device.

Smart marketers will become more creative and start to notice the importance of other small details such as the order of navigation links.

Remember our current tablet demographic – educated professionals with more money to burn?

Smart marketers will feature higher-end products to these users by creating tests that will take their optimization strategy one step further than what we are seeing now.

Entry forms will be improved: Form follows function
Let us be honest: smartphones and tablets are not great for data entry.

Input areas are often too small, options too close together, and moving between fields is a pain – my kingdom for a tab key.

Marketers will begin to notice just how important it is to have functioning radio buttons or replace them with drop-downs, which are much easier to use than free-form fields.

Data entry should be kept to a minimum on a tablet by removing any non-mandatory fields because a long form is likely to have higher abandonment.

Prioritizing the value of information for increased conversion for the tablet audience is something that marketers are beginning to do.

To determine what information will increase conversions, marketers should create multivariate tests just as they do with their Web properties.

When you rely on high average order values or meaningful leads, optimization of forms based on devices could really pay dividends for any business.

Meaning of touch screen will be fully understood: Mouse versus finger
Image-viewing technology is not optimal on many mobile and tablet sites and fixing it could translate into a quick win.

A number of sites have rollover-to-zoom functionality that simply does not work as it should on mobile and tablet devices. Is it even possible to rollover on a touchscreen device?

Proper accessibility to high-resolution imagery could be the difference in a sale for some travel and fashion brands.

WHETHER IT is optimizing the touch screen capabilities or better understanding how to serve up an experience that meets the needs of the unique tablet demographic, 2013 is the year marketers will build and refine successful tablet optimization strategies.

If marketers ignore the optimization opportunities on the second screen, they will be left high and dry by mobile shoppers.

Tom Waterfall is director of optimization solutions for EMEA at Webtrends, London. Reach him at