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(eM+C)—It’s clear that post-PC computing is here. According to a comScore report released this month, there are more than 100 million smartphone users in the U.S. alone, making the need to offer a compelling mobile web experience more important than ever.

If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile devices yet, you’re likely missing a big opportunity to market to prospects and strengthen engagement with your current customers. When you initiate a plan to mobilize your standard website, you’ll save great deal of time, money and resources by doing it right the first time.

Even with the varying technical requirements of mobile devices, it’s possible to easily and effectively increase mobile engagement through experimentation. Common methods for running controlled experiments on both websites and mobile sites range from simple A/B testing to sophisticated multivariate testing.

In A/B testing, one or more new versions of a page or single element compete against the original (control) version. For example, two new versions of a headline might compete against an original headline. While A/B testing allows you to test one factor at a time, multivariate testing enables you to test many changes simultaneously.

Evaluating the impact of combinations of factors and their variations often reveals significant interaction effects that can have a dramatic impact on your conversion goals. That’s why mobile optimization using A/B and multivariate testing has been proven to be one of the most effective and immediate methods to increase visitor engagement, mobile application adoption and content consumption.

Testing can help you discover which content your clients prefer on their specific mobile devices. Though mobile marketing isn’t new, there’s still relatively little in the way of best practices for the mobile channel. It can be difficult to know which content, user interface element or aesthetic will be most effective for your audience. Analysis of consumer behavior has shown that mobile users have different needs and expectations than desktop users. Environment, task at hand and physical device constraints all differ, often dramatically.

That’s where mobile targeting comes in. Gone are the days when one smartphone or two smartphones dominated the market. Today there’s a wide range of wireless devices, browsers, screen sizes, carriers, network speeds and so on. You’ll want to know which mobile device capabilities your visitors are using. You can use that information for content targeting, enabling you to discover how varying types of mobile-optimized content influence user behavior and ultimately site profitability.

In doing so, you’ll be able to test, measure and ultimately deliver the content, layout and promotional offers that are more effective for each mobile device category. For example:

• preferred markup language: HTML vs. WAP/WML;
• keyboard type: physical vs. touchscreen keyboard;
• screen dimensions and rotation support;
• browser capabilities: scaling, Flash and AJAX support;
• cellular network data speeds: 2.5G, 3G and 4G; and
• mobile operating system: Apple iOS, Android, Blackberry/RIM, Windows Mobile and Palm webOS.

Understanding how each mobile site element influences the visitor experience is the essence of the “test-learn-repeat” process that marketers can use to prove (or disprove) the effectiveness of new ideas and continually improve their mobile site’s ability to achieve and exceed marketing goals. Armed with the knowledge provided by mobile optimization, marketers can focus on achieving optimization goals and derive an unprecedented level of data accuracy—all while saving precious time, money and resources.

Kim Ann King is the chief marketing officer of web and mobile optimization firm SiteSpect.

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