Expedia’s mobile web is driving great results. Is yours?

Aaron Price November 2018 Travel, Experience & Design

Getting the mobile web right is critical if you’re looking for an edge in today’s competitive marketplace. Want to improve your mobile experience? Expedia Group CMO Aaron Price shares the three questions you should be asking.

With smartphones serving as today’s go-to source for getting things done, people expect seamless mobile web experiences. In fact, when a company’s mobile app or site does not get them what they need, more than one-third of smartphone users will immediately go to another company’s site or app.1

That’s why it’s so critical for brands to put their best foot forward when engaging people on mobile. At Expedia, we’ve developed an internal questions checklist to ensure we’re creating great mobile experiences.

If you know you need to improve your mobile web experience but don’t know where to start, here are three questions that helped us zero in on the areas that needed attention and investment.

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1. Are we viewing conversion rates as both business and brand metrics?

As marketers, we don’t just need to understand and anticipate our customers’ needs better than anyone else — we’ve got to guide our organization to meet those needs.

We implemented an organization-wide goal of improving our mobile web experience for net-new customers.

That starts with identifying consumer trends and aligning our mobile web strategies to meet those trends. That said, to deliver long-term business success, brands must optimize for mobile, where more and more of our customers begin their shopping journeys. At Expedia, we implemented an organization-wide goal of improving our mobile web experience for our net-new customers. These days, we view our mobile web conversion rate as more than just a business metric. It’s also a brand metric — one that tells us how well we’re delivering the fast, assistive travel-planning experience that people demand.

2. Are we conflating desktop and mobile technologies with measurement?

Wowing your customers via the mobile web requires recognizing mobile as a unique experience. It’s a mistake to conflate desktop and mobile design with technologies because they aren’t interchangeable. I know we all seek economies of scale to some degree. But to do mobile right, and to capture those customers right from the get-go, you should be designing mobile separately from your desktop experience.

This can be easier said than done, I know. It’s a lot simpler to assist customers on a larger screen because you can put a bunch more information there. Making a smaller screen equally informative involves a completely different approach and a lot more work.

To create the best mobile web experience possible, we start by asking the questions that matter to customers. Things like, “how much time does it take to book?” and “how well can I find, filter, and complete what I need to do?” Because the real litmus test of a mobile experience is whether it’s as good as — or better than — what you’d get on desktop.

The most common mistake I see is marketers investing more in desktop because desktop drives better results.

Today, many brands still fail this test. And worse, they’re not trying to fix it. The most common mistake I see is marketers investing more in desktop because desktop drives better results. It’s easy to optimize for what’s working best. But this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Conversions are worse on mobile because the web experience on mobile is worse. And today’s desktop conversion rates won’t do anything to provide the great mobile web experiences your future customers will expect. That’s why you should embrace the opportunity to ensure your mobile web stands out from the competition.

3. Are we fast enough?

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About a year and a half ago, we formed a team to completely rethink our mobile experience and underlying technology. A majority of customers now interact with us on mobile as their first touch and their first platform, yet our site was designed and heavily optimized for the desktop. The team quickly identified Progressive Web App (PWA) as the best way to solve that problem holistically — across product, technology, and marketing — by delivering both a fast experience and a lot of flexibility for mobile customers. And better yet, we were able to do it quickly. In 18 months we developed an end-to-end cloud-native, fully mobile optimized PWA-based web platform that is now powering our hotel-shopping path and landing pages for our mobile customers.

Brands get one shot to win over customers on mobile. That means not only delivering what customers need, but doing it fast. You could lose a third of your customers if you don’t. The probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from one second to three seconds.2

You need your mobile site to be one of the fastest available in your product category. And nothing can motivate investment in mobile speed like finding out your competitors are faster than you. At Expedia, for example, we regularly check our speed performance against our top travel competitors using Google’s Speed Scorecard. There’s no permanent fix to ensure your mobile site is perpetually fast, but making mobile web speed a top business priority can help keep you ahead of the pack.

When we started the project, our hotel-shopping pages were consistently slower than our competitors’, especially on mobile devices on slow mobile networks. Today, by coupling our new PWA front end with a new, fast back-end technology, we are now delivering pages 2X to 3X faster than before — and we’re outpacing the speed of our competitors.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying you should only focus on mobile web speed. It’s just as critical to provide exceptional experiences across your websites, apps, and products. You need to iterate quickly, so that your sites, apps, and products evolve at an industry-leading pace. That’s what customers expect. And when you deliver above and beyond expectations, people keep coming back for more.

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