No doubt the pandemic altered consumer purchase behaviors and expectations leading retailers to find new and better ways to engage online. On top of increased online spend in 2020 — up 44% from 2019 to more than $861 billion in the US — there has been a big increase in online fulfillment options, with 80% of shoppers expecting to increase their usage of Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup and 90% now preferring home delivery over a store visit.
Consumers are savvier than ever when it comes to online shopping and this newfound and increased comfort shopping in today’s digital-first online world will have long-term effects. That’s why brands must ensure that every touchpoint is visual-first, fast, and flawless, no matter where their audiences and customers are engaging. Given that nearly 80% of smartphone users are now shopping on their mobile devices, there is a big opportunity to cater to customers’ small screen devices.
The power of small screens carries some not-so-small benefits including increased engagement, conversions, and long-term brand loyalty. Brands should pay attention to three particular trends – micro-video, microbrowsers and mobile optimization – to ensure that they are effectively reaching the growing number of online consumers.
Engage with Micro-Video
In the age of TikTok and Instagram Reels, consumers are familiar with short snippets of entertainment or information on their mobile device. Brands should capitalize on this trend by creating micro-video clips that quickly capture viewer attention and keep them delighted and engaged. With just a few seconds of content, brands can deliver a captivating message that increases views and conversions.
Micro-video content is typically just 10-20 seconds long, which means brands have a short amount of time to ensure that every clip is delivered seamlessly and to their full potential. To achieve this, brands should first make sure that the content adjusts to fill the screen of every device, whether it be a desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone. All content must also be adjusted for portrait or landscape to avoid static sizing that can break page layouts, distort the image or display black bars around the video. Marketers and developers can use AI and machine learning capabilities to efficiently create multiple variants of every video needed for every screen size, orientation and device.
Additionally, marketers and developers should pay careful attention to the text associated with each video, including the headline and subtitles. These are important aspects of the content that provide context for the viewer, especially since 85% of video content watched on Facebook is viewed without sound. In addition, providing accurate subtitles is important to comply with accessibility and ADA guidelines. The use of AI can also automatically generate text and apply captions to each video.
Harness the Power of Microbrowsers
Microbrowsers are the miniature previews of a site that proliferates inside discussions in private messaging apps like Slack, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. For example, think about when you sent your mom an iMessage link to boots on your birthday wish list. The retailer’s website automatically generates a relevant thumbnail image or video preview. This helps her see what the link is and builds a good first impression of the brand, increasing the likelihood that she will click and purchase those boots as a gift.
These microbrowser links provide a huge engagement opportunity that brands unfortunately often overlook. Brands should ensure that these preview images or videos are optimally displayed across all chat and messaging apps, as well as the long tail of other screens like handheld game devices and smart appliances.
Developers should make sure that links are unfurling within microbrowsers by:
- Annotating everything throughout the HTML markup, and limiting the title to 10 words and the description to 240 characters
- Always using Open Graph as markup to account for different microbrowsers
- Selecting a specific unfurl image that’s visually appealing and compels the recipient to click for more information
- Using short video “nanostories” for the few microbrowsers that currently display video
By following these tips, brands can make the most of their microbrowser content and drive peer-to-peer recommendations that lead to clicks and sales. Additionally, they can use the data to offer insights on audience patterns and preferences, as well as how much traffic is coming from peer referrals, or “dark social.” This indirect microbrowser traffic is a golden opportunity for marketers — the more data they have on who is sharing the links through private shares and group chats, the more they can amplify the content and the power of the referral.
Make the Site Mobile-Friendly
As consumers rely on online shopping more and more, it’s become even more important for brands to offer media-rich web content that loads well on a mobile device. Customers are looking for an engaging and streamlined experience that’s fast and responsive. They won’t wait around for a page to load. In fact, a one-second delay in page response can result in a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction.
Brands must focus on the quality, format and size of their digital assets to deliver on these expectations. For images, developers should resize images for specific layout dimensions, adjusting to the content’s size, resolution and layout to fit the application environment. The same standards apply to video, while also taking into account the quality of the video to accommodate for a user’s network conditions. By making the website mobile-friendly, brands can be confident that users will enjoy a frictionless online shopping experience that drives traffic and sales.
Big Results Come From Small Details
It’s become increasingly important for brands to take a good look at their small screen strategy and ensure that they are catering to mobile users. Incorporating micro-video, microbrowser, and mobile optimization best practices will be key to meeting the expectations of today’s online consumers and winning big results in the mobile world.