June 7, 2013, 12:07 PM

Dell drives up revenue after refocusing on mobile

IRCE speaker Brandon McGee tells how Dell doubled mobile revenue.

Lead Photo

Brandon McGee

When Brandon McGee joined Dell Inc. in 2010 as director of global mobile operations, he noticed that Dell’s mobile site lacked the same level of web analytics reporting that helped the computer and electronics company build a better e-commerce site. “We were able to manage the business extremely well for online, but there were no tools for mobile,” he said in a keynote address today during the Mobile Workshop at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in Chicago.

But that quickly changed, as Dell built software code and a dashboard for monitoring customer mobile commerce activity. With new backing from senior management who could now see the opportunity mobile commerce offered, Dell gave its mobile site a complete facelift, developed mobile apps and new online marketing campaigns, and expanded its mobile commerce operations overseas.

By 2013, it had amassed consecutive years of surging growth in mobile traffic and sales. “It’s staggering,” McGee said.

For the fiscal year ended Feb. 3, 2012, Dell’s mobile revenue increased 121% over the prior year, followed by an increase of 79% for the year ended Feb. 1, 2013. For the 2012 Thanksgiving weekend, mobile commerce visits rose 89% year over year as revenue grew 125%.

Dell took several steps to drive that growth, McGee said. With its improved analytics, for example, it decided to improve clickthrough rates on product pages by making them less cluttered and easier to browse. But when it surveyed customers for the reaction to the changes, it found that many shoppers still wanted some of the content that had been removed. For example, shoppers said they wanted product details such as screen sizes on tablet computers to help them make purchasing decisions—details that now appear along with other product information like battery life and shipping options.

By moving its add-to-cart button and monitoring shoppers’ reactions, Dell realized a 20% increase in conversion rate, McGee added.

Dell has also expanded its use of online and social media marketing. “We figured out that mobile marketing is extremely effective,” McGee said. “Mobile media is now challenging online advertising in the engagement and creativity stakes.”

He noted that mobile ads can feature video and other rich media, target customers by local areas, and offer advertising rates “significantly less” than online ads. Dell’s mobile marketing campaigns include banner ads on mobile content sites, SMS offers sent to customers who have opted in to receive marketing messages, and a mobile daily deals club that sends personalized offers to registered customers.

Dell’s overall mobile efforts have also helped to drive traffic to its e-commerce site at Dell.com, McGee said. “A lot of transactions start and complete on mobile, but many start on a smartphone and finish in other devices,” he said.

He added, however, that Dell has found it important to watch for spikes in the number of mobile visitors who click to view the full e-commerce site—which can be an indication that the mobile site is not offering them enough information or functionality to find what they want and complete a purchase.

Dell is No. 8 in the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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