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Lighting New York switches on mobile search with discovery focus

Retailer Lighting New York switched on mobile search results by shifting its focus from conversions to research.

The six-year-old retailer, which has two showrooms and an ecommerce presence, was experiencing growth in traffic on mobile but was frustrated with the lack of conversions for smartphone shoppers. Management agreed to shift gears, after some convincing, and invest in treating mobile search like a research and discovery channel, resulting in a significant lift for the brand.

“The mindset we had held for a long time was to treat mobile as a converting channel,” said Aaron Covaleski, director of search marketing at Lighting New York. “That is what other people were saying to do.

“But consumers don’t spend five to to six thousand dollars on their phone while on a bus to buy something they are going have in their home for 30 years,” he said.

“This is a research tool – that is how most people use it.

Lighting New York worked closely with Google throughout to optimize its search strategy.

Spotlight on search
Previously, the retailer counted the click-through rate as engagement. But with mobile not converting, it started tracking time on site and how users were interacting with the site, using these metrics as key performance indicators. It soon became clear that mobile users were actively researching on the site.

After convincing the retailer’s management team that a change in strategy would pay out, Lighting New York made a significant shift in the second quarter of last year from treating mobile like a conversion channel to treating it like a discovery and research channel.

The retailer got more aggressive on increasing mobile modifiers, non-branded terms and research-based terms. It also mapped the user journey and more aggressively pursued a higher funnel approach.

Changes were also made to better meet the needs of mobile users once they landed on the retailer’s site.

“It was great for us – it lead to pretty big gains in sales in Q4 for us,” Mr. Covaleski said.

“We saw our mobile and desktop brand impressions double at the beginning of the fourth quarter last year,” he said. “If you can boost your brand terms, you are going to be doing much better.”

Cross-device cards
The site optimization included adding tap to call, enhancing speed, streamlining form fills, optimizing images for mobile and adding guest checkout, among others.

Lighting New York also enabled cross-device cards to make it easier to convert down the funnel. Cards were previously tied to a single device, but enabling users to start a shopping session on one device and then pick up where they left off on another was a positive step for the brand.

Since a lot of the retailer’s business happens over the phone, it also worked to make sure phone attribution was solid so it could accurately value what was happening.

In 2016, Lighting New York is focused on taking a more holistic approach that is optimized across channels.

As a result of shift in search strategy, the retailer is beginning to see mobile conversions go up.

“We’ve managed to track that 15 percent of conversions are happening on mobile and it continues to grow” Mr. Covaleski said.

“If you can streamline the checkout process and really optimize for mobile, you can do well for mobile conversions,” he said. “We are seeing that trend develop.”