Why Mobile SaaS Conversions Are Lower Than Desktop

Some software-as-a-service companies experience much lower paid conversions from consumers on mobile devices versus desktop and laptop computers.

The scenario goes like this. A SaaS company offers a free trial of its service. The company garners many new accounts, and 40% came from mobile devices. Two weeks later the trial ends. Paying customers are minted, but only 6% came from mobile.

This gap can be troubling, and there are four regular suspects.

Wrong Customer

What if mobile marketing is attracting the wrong customer? A large percentage of the new accounts created on a mobile device could come from folks who are poor prospects.

One way to tell is to analyze the acquisitions channels, such as organic and paid search.

Imagine, again, that mobile devices produce 40% of free trial accounts and just 5% of paid ones.

The mobile discrepancy is glaring. The company looks at trial accounts by device type and channel, discovering that about 4% of trial accounts from organic search start on a mobile device. By comparison, about 60% of accounts from the paid advertising channel came from mobile.

Bar graph of two columns (paid and organic) for users on computer and mobile

In this hypothetical example, the difference in paid conversions was not so much about mobile devices versus desktop and laptop computers as paid versus organic traffic.

In this made-up example, the issue could be that the paid channel is targeting folks who have little need or intent to use the SaaS product — most accounts created on mobile devices come from ads, and most on computers come from organic listings. Or perhaps the reverse is true.

Regardless, the issue is not the device but rather customer intent and interest.

Poor Mobile Onboarding

Sometimes a poor onboarding process causes the gap.

Here is an example. Imagine a SaaS company that makes it very easy to create a new paid account — add an email address or use a single sign-on from Google or Facebook, provide payment details, and voila, a new account.

For other SaaS companies, creating a paid account is only the initial step in the onboarding process. That process might include a product tour, account setup, and any number of similar activities.

If its process on a mobile device becomes confusing or cumbersome, the SaaS company could be losing customers.

To resolve, SaaS firms could test the onboarding process on multiple devices or use a screen recording service such as Full Story to watch users work their way through the app.

Communication Problems

Communication during the onboarding process may be a factor.

Automated emails typically welcome new SaaS users. The automation guides them through the setup and getting-started phases.

But what if new users do not receive those encouraging and helpful messages?

Stacks of data show that mobile users open and read emails. But other demographics and segments may not. For example, TikTok creators are less likely to check their email regularly.

A solution could be providing communication options — email, text, or even push notifications.

Poor Experience

A final factor causing the difference between computer and mobile paid conversions is not the wrong customer, poor onboarding, or communication snafus. It’s a poor mobile experience from the SaaS app itself.

This might be especially meaningful if some customers use only mobile.

To resolve, SaaS companies could mimic the common tasks on mobile devices, use screen recordings, and survey or interview users who did not buy.

Unfortunately, of all of the potential factors causing a gap between mobile and desktop paid conversions, a poor mobile user experience may be the most difficult to resolve. It could require an entire overhaul of the SaaS product.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
Bio   •   RSS Feed