How to Make Local Mobile Landing Pages That Convert

by Richard Bayston

Last updated on July 25th, 2017

The second you step away from your desk, or leave your home or office – what do you do when you need to find something to eat, purchase or get directions to?

You pull out your phone and do a search.

Unfortunately, local businesses aren’t making the best use of digital marketing. In fact, as many as 60% of small businesses don’t even have a website at all. Local businesses don’t see it as a priority. And even when they do have solid websites, in too many cases, mobile is an afterthought, and the landing pages are weak or absent.

That’s a big mistake. Mobile should be treated as a priority for local businesses, and the landing pages should be considered priority online assets because they are where people decide to buy.

This is where your online strategy should be making you money.

Mobile devices are the devices most commonly used to search for local businesses.

devices most used

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Also, the majority of buyers who use a mobile phone to find a business are looking for a local business so they can go there and buy something. 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase.

search results purchase

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In other words, conversions are there, but local businesses and local marketers aren’t picking them up because their mobile landing pages are clunky and weak.

Local businesses are blowing mobile, and they absolutely cannot afford to.

What issues do we need to address to create local mobile landing pages that actually work?

1. Page Load Speed

loading time

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Load speed makes a big difference in whether your page even gets seen. Google will slap a slow to load sticker on your site in SERPs and visitors won’t even go there; if they do, slow load speed causes massive bounce.

How Does Google Treat Page Load Speed?

Not kindly! It’s a ranking factor. Specifically, Google uses load speed via HTML and via Chrome user data as ranking factors. The good news (if you can call it that) is that mobile page load speed is still a few months away from being a ranking factor, as of September 2016, according to Gary Illyes.

Even though Google doesn’t yet have the algorithm for mobile page load speed, they clearly take it seriously. Google is actively promoting mobile pages that load fast via its AMP initiative. Marketers who ignore mobile page load speed now, when it’s not a ranking factor, should count on getting whomped when Google figures out how to include it.

Unfortunately, you can be getting good load speeds from desktop tests and still have a prohibitively slow mobile site.

optimization chart

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Worse, your mobile site might inherit page load speed figures from desktop, but it doesn’t inherit all your desktop site’s SEO. Google uses your desktop SEO plus additional mobile ranking factors to arrive at your final score.

More important than search ranking, though, is this:

How Do Consumers Treat Page Load Speed?

Even less kindly than Google! Mobile page load speed is a big UX issue. “Globally, slow loading times are considered the biggest frustration of modern mobile users,” says Episerve in its 2015 report.

Bounce rate rises steadily from 2.3 seconds load time, eventually hitting 58% at 9.9 seconds.

bounce rate

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If consumers find accessing a mobile site inconvenient, says Episerve, 6% will continue using it; but 77% will bail, and 19% of those will go to a competitor. And you won’t hear about it either because only 6% will contact customer service. 38% won’t even bother going back on desktop if the mobile site won’t load fast and easy.

There’s a paradox here: Mobile pages are slower loading than desktop pages, because there’s less bandwidth available and smaller processors doing the rendering. But mobile customers are less patient than desktop customers. That’s an argument against responsive design and in favor of a simple, mobile-first approach. (There will be more on responsive design later in issue 5 on page design.)

What Effect Does Page Load Speed Have On Conversions?

Mobile pages that load just 1 second faster will experience a 27% increase in conversions.

conversion rate

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When page load times rise above 4.2 seconds, the average conversion rate falls below 1%.

For ecommerce sites, that’s money down the drain. But for local businesses, it’s just as bad. Whether you’re looking for click-and-collect conversions, phone calls, or things like store visits that are tougher to track, you’re still hunting conversions.

Mobile landing pages must be optimized for speed, or they will fail at the first gate and never be seen at all.

Local SEO offers businesses a real chance to rank high where it matters – in their local area. Poor page load speed can negatively affect rank and lose that advantage.

Do It Like This:

wildnyc

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Wildair’s clean, simple website loads in 959 milliseconds from a New York location. That’s fast enough to satisfy even the most impatient would-be diner or to scrape through even the most app-laden, bloatware-clogged OS. (They get bonus points for the .nyc suffix too!) It’s a shame about their tiny, tiny text, though.

Want to see how your mobile landing page measures up? Check out dotcomtools, which will let you select a device and choose which servers to test from so you don’t get your local speed test contaminated by results from Buenos Aires and Kyoto. Google’s mobile speed test is cool too, but it will give you results out of 100, not in seconds.

2. Phone Number

Local mobile searches drive calls that are strongly oriented toward purchase. Mobile search was the biggest driver of calls to businesses in 2015, accounting for 48% of total call volume. 88% of consumers use a search engine on their smartphone to find goods or services nearby, according to joint Google-IPSOS research. Conversions after a local search are more than twice as likely as after a non-local search. And half of smartphone users visited a local store within 24 hours of their search.

These are people looking for somewhere nearby to spend money. It’s often a time-limited desire with built-in urgency: they’re fixing the bathroom, getting new sneakers, or looking for a place to have dinner. Their purchase intent won’t keep. They are going to buy from someone as soon as they can. So your priorities are different. You have to catch them while they’re hot rather than gradually warm them up.

And phone calls are a powerful indicator of conversion and purchase intent; so when your process leaks callers, it leaks money, pure and simple.

How Do Consumers Treat Clickable Phone Numbers?

65% of people prefer to contact a business by phone rather than a web form. 63% complete a purchase offline following online search activity, and 70% have used click-to-call from a search ad.

Local calls are the most strongly affected, with 69% of respondents in recent Google research saying they’d use click-to-call if it was available.

smartphone calls

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What Effect Do Clickable Phone Numbers Have On Conversions?

Nearly half of users will convert elsewhere if they can’t call you directly from search results. That’s a huge leak of people who want to buy. (Once they click through to your landing page, they’re even less tolerant.) So make sure click-to-call is prominently displayed. Google reports that 61% of mobile searchers find a click-to-call button vital in the purchase process.

click to call

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Callers don’t want to leave you a message, they want to buy something, so make the CTC button time sensitive or post opening times.

Do It Like This:

Badger Cab (of Madison, Wisconsin, in case you need a ride) is making a big deal of their ride ordering app, but that doesn’t stop them from having a big, clickable phone number in the top right hand corner that takes the user through to the keypad.

badger rideshare mobile

They get bonus points for putting their CTC button where it’s easier to reach with your thumb on a mobile screen.

Wrap your phone numbers with the tel: schema, says Google:

html telephone

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3. Headlines and Copy

There’s a place for long, elliptical copy. Killer 3,000 word sales letters aren’t even unusual. Ad legends built careers on them, and they work just fine on the web. They can work on mobile too.

But mobile screens are tiny compared to desktop screens. At most, a two-line sentence will fit on a mobile screen. Conventional wisdom about the function of sentences and paragraphs emphatically does not apply here. Instead, break the narrative into episodes, each of which will fit on a mobile screen.

Long headlines won’t cut it either. Your mobile pages need a headline that will fit on the page so it can be comprehended at a glance. Because if…

People

Have

To scroll

To figure out

What’s

Going

On

…they probably won’t bother.

That means putting your benefits front and center in simple, clear copy with concise headlines.

Think about the three to five things people need to know that will make them want to call or visit your business ready to buy. Then phrase those things as clearly as you can and put them on your landing page.

How Does Google Treat Headlines And Copy?

They are used for ranking. Particularly, h1 and h2 tags remain important. But vitally for local businesses, they’re used for local ranking; that means headlines and copy are important for search engines as well as human readers. Don’t mistake that for a license to stuff. Google will whomp you for that.

This matters a lot because search is the number one starting point on mobile.

search starting point

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If you want to know what search terms people are likely to use, try asking your current customers what search terms they’d use to try to find you. Otherwise, you can use AdWords Keyword Planner or Moz’s Keyword Explorer to figure out keywording. To monitor it, sync your Google Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics, and you’ll be able to see exact search queries. Cross reference them with the device tracking in Google Analytics to find out how your mobile customers are finding you. Then you can build that into your copy.

The chances are your keywording will fit seamlessly into what your copy needs to say anyway. If you’re a tire and exhaust shop in Nacogdoches, that’s one of the first things a website visitor needs to know about you. And it’s likely to be their search terms too.

How Do Consumers Treat Headlines And Copy?

Average mobile session time is 72 seconds. Most people read about 300 words per minute. That gives the average consumer time to read 360 words. Check out this list of weak, flabby weasel words and space fillers. Then consider that each word you waste comes out of the 360 words your visitor might read.

Copy should be written in the form in which it’s going to be read. Try writing your second draft on your phone. Seriously. How hard is it to get the text onto the screen? That’s how hard it is for readers to grasp your meaning. So if your sentences are the type a vindictive judge would hand down for murder in the first (i.e., long and hard), rethink them.

The location of your copy matters, as does its size. Google recommends 16px at least for body copy, with headlines and titles in proportion.

And while mobile users do scroll, the vast majority of their eyeball time is spent on the first screen’s worth of content. Nielsen Norman Group found that on average 80% of a user’s attention is focused above the fold. Your headline is about 8 times more likely to be read than your body copy; subheads are about 3 times more likely to be read than body copy.

The lesson?

Make headlines and subheads do the heavy lifting. If there’s no other copy on the page, someone should still be able to read your title, subtitle, and a couple of subheaders and know what you do and whether they want some.

What Effect Do Headlines And Copy Have On Conversions?

If you’re using PPC, SEM, or email, your landing page needs to match the campaign that brings your visitors. But the vast majority of local visitors will come from search. So headlines and copy need to be focused on search motivation – what users are looking for when they click through to your landing page.

In most cases, visitors are looking for basic information about what you offer and the information they need to do business with you. 27% are searching for your location; 13% are specifically looking for driving directions. Don’t try to write clever marketing copy. Just put all that front and center.

cross device local search

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The simpler and clearer the copy you use, the more effective, according to NextAfter. Their experiment found a 21% lift in conversions with simpler copy.

caring bridges

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For local mobile, this simplicity is even more important. Excess verbiage actually stands between you and consumers who are primed to buy.

Do It Like This:

simmons tire and auto mobile

Hmmm. What do these guys do?

There’s a minimum of words on the screen, but Simmons (Nacogdoches, Texas) manages to convey their value prop, get specific, and pack a CTA in there too. This screen doesn’t have to be read. You can just glance at it. That’s how really good mobile copy should look.

4. Calls to Action

Pushing for a sale or signup – the two biggest conversion types – can be a mistake, argues Peter Boyle. That’s true enough. But for local mobile landing pages, you don’t have to. People are trying to find you, figure out what you offer, and phone you.

Calls to action are kind of what everything else is there to support, especially on single-function pages like landing pages. It makes sense to stick to a single aim on a landing page. Think of it like a signpost: you want it to point in just one direction. A landing page is a signpost to a conversion.

But often, mobile CTAs are just desktop CTAs displayed on mobile devices. When we consider that…

  • Mobile screens are different, so mobile CTAs require different coloring, placement, copy, and design to be effective.
  • Mobile browsing behavior is different, so users will navigate the page differently.
  • Mobile browsing intent is different, so users will respond to calls for very different actions: they come primed with purchase intent, rather than casual browsing.

…basing local mobile CTAs on national or global desktop data starts to look like the big mistake it is. CTAs for local mobile should be crafted specifically for local mobile, and tested on local mobile.

How Do Consumers Treat CTAs?

National, subscription, ecommerce, and service (including SaaS) brands are the subjects of a lot of CTA testing and research. The research is valid…for those brands. For local businesses, as we’ve seen, there’s a whole different set of needs. For instance, check out this piece showing sequenced CTAs for different places in the funnel. Again, solid as far as it goes, but not applicable to local businesses.

When mobile searchers hit a local business’s landing page, they’re already looking to buy. There’s not a long marketing process here.

Consumers respond to CTAs of this type the way any buyer responds to a bottom-of-the-funnel CTA, by making a purchase move like a phone call or a visit. Research oriented toward bottom-of-the-funnel consumers applies: basic and compelling CTAs are most effective. As Cameron Fitchett advises, “don’t ask for action: demand it!” Use short, active CTAs like “call now” or “book my table.”

Make sure your CTAs look like buttons. Consumers don’t want to click on an underlined link or hunt around a page for where to click.

And remember that when you’re trying to encourage an offline behavior, the CTA should be oriented that way. Don’t copy the CTAs from ecommerce sites and expect to end up killing it. At least one of your CTAs should be your CTC (click-to-call) button.

What Effect Does CTA Placement And Local Mobile Specific Optimization Have On Conversions?

Research indicates a correlation between the complexity of the service or product being offered and the best place to put the CTA. The more complex the offering, the more the visitor needs to be educated before they make a decision, so the lower down on the page the CTA should be.

cta product complex

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In practice, that looks something like this:

control treatment a

Source

“Best practice” for local mobile landing pages probably means two copies of the same CTA, one above the fold and one at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, consider subject specific CTAs next to menu elements, such as “book my dinner reservation” or “book my lunch reservation.”

Do It Like This:

LA-based Wilshire Law Firm is hitting it right. Thanks to a slideshow landing page, they’ve got a bunch of different CTAs, ranging from exploratory, like “Meet Our Winning Team”:

wilshire lawfirm 2

to assessment CTAs, like “See Our Results”:

wilshire lawfirm

to sales CTAs, like “Schedule Your Consultation.”

wilshire lawfirm 3

Each page has just one CTA. And since, for most of us, choosing a lawyer is a big-ticket expense, there’s a bit more funnel here than you’ll see on Badger Cabs. Each CTA is accompanied by a couple of lines of persuasive copy, and at the bottom of each slide is a CTC button.

Next, we’ll discuss the elephant on the screen.

5. Page Design

A lot of mobile landing pages are desktop landing pages filtered through responsive design. It sounds great. Responsive sounds just like the kind of thing users want, right?

Ignoring the connotations for a minute, though, we should ask: responsive to what?

Responsive design means design that alters the way it displays itself based on inputs, but not inputs from the customer or from data about how customers want their landing pages to look. Responsive design is based on automatically detected elements like screen size.

Then, the whole site reconfigures itself, like a really radical redesign. This is a huge deal that doesn’t get talked about much; CRO people will A/B test a damn pixel, but responsive design means the whole site looks totally different based on something (screen size) that tells nothing about the user, apart from the device they’re using.

How smart does that sound?

How Does Google Treat Page Design?

Some design elements have an effect on search ranking. Those that affect load speed will influence rank slightly. Mobile-friendly sites don’t get a special badge anymore but still rank higher, an effect that was strengthened in May this year. And Google is rolling out a penalty for intrusive popups and interstitials. Google says it will whomp you for interstitials like these:

content less accessible

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Interstitials like the following that are aimed at age verification, cookie usage, or small banners will not be affected, says Google product manager Doantam Phan.

mobile cookies

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Other factors, such as crawlable images and SEO-friendly architecture, matter too. But the main effects of solid page design are on consumers, not search engines.

How Do Consumers Treat Page Design?

Consumers react strongly to poor page design. Solidly designed pages lead to good UX, which leads to high conversions.

Pages should be designed specifically for mobile, and with local search motivation in mind.

What Effect Does Page Design Have On Conversions?

Button size and placement are vital to help users complete conversion actions. Buttons that are too small or too close together are difficult to select without the user having to do something extra that they wouldn’t normally do.

Most users will control their mobile devices with their thumbs. 67% will have their right thumb on the screen.

mobile chart

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This means that if your buttons are small enough to disappear under the pad of someone’s thumb, they’re too small.

index finger and thumb

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Strive for buttons around 72 pixels or larger to accommodate thumb use. Also, leave space between buttons (another solid argument for single CTAs).

Placement on the page is equally important. Hold your own phone the way you normally do, and you’ll notice that the top left of the screen is pretty hard to reach.

mobile heatmap

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It’s not a major life challenge, but it is irritating.

mobile heatmap 4

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The bottom right hand corner of the screen is a bit of a thumb yoga move too, unless you’re holding your phone in two hands.

mobile heatmap 3

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But the bottom middle of the page is pretty easy.

mobile heatmap 2

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So that’s where your main CTA should go. Remember to leave users room to scroll without accidentally buying a house or booking a table, though.

Do It Like This:

big smile dental mobile

Big Smile Dental, out of Chicago, has a cheesy name and a cheesy logo, but their landing page is pretty solidly designed in terms of user interaction. There is a clickable “Directions” link (that could stand to be a bit bigger) and a central CTC button with an offer right next to it, allowing two conversion routes straight from the landing page.

Conclusion

Local mobile landing pages should be optimized for local search requirements, focusing on the needs of local consumers. They should be fast-loading, simple, and clear, with copy that can be scanned and understood without effort. They should also have compelling calls to action that a mobile user can easily reach on the screen. Contacting the business should be prioritized, which means there are different design and copy goals for a local business than there are for a global or ecommerce business that wants online purchases.

When we know that local mobile searches are strongly time-sensitive and purchase-oriented, we should be jumping on top of them. But there’s a long way to go because most local mobile landing pages fail in at least one of the five variables I’ve talked about. The plus side is, if your landing page kills it, you’ll be acquiring local customers, especially if you have solid local search strategy and good customer service.

*Featured Image Source

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Richard Bayston

Richard Bayston creates copy and content at RBCopywriting.com, mostly about tech, digital marketing and content strategy. When he’s not doing that, he’s arguing amicably with his wife and Googling the answers.

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  1. September 26, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Stuart, thanks! Glad you liked it. I know it’s long – didn’t want to leave anything out…

  2. stuart blake says:
    September 25, 2016 at 10:44 am

    hmm. although a lengthy but helpful post. thanks

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