Responsive delivers for Hillarys

David Murphy talks to Emma Gillings, web manager at Hillarys, about the great results the blinds retailer has seen by optimising for mobile.

The move to mobile is a trend that has been well documented in recent years. Most retailers have seen big increases in the proportion of users visiting their websites from a mobile device, and made-to-measure blinds, curtains and carpets retailer Hillarys is no different. So, 18 months ago, working with its digital agency Code Computerlove, Hillarys set about making its website more conducive to viewing and navigating on a mobile device.

“If you look back to two years ago, the Hillarys website was actually four separate instances,” explains Hillarys web manager Emma Gillings. “We had a desktop/tablet version for the UK and another for Ireland, then dedicated mobile sites for each country. We could see that mobile traffic was growing very quickly, up 58 per cent year-on-year. Working with Code, we decided we needed a responsive site that would deliver a better experience for our mobile visitors, and also bring additional SEO benefits, as this is the way Google advises you to go.”

An additional benefit would be that with only one site to maintain, as opposed to four, the administrative burden on the Hillarys digital team would be much reduced.

A phased approach
The two companies took a phased approach to rolling out the new site. “Rather than waiting for the entire platform to be developed before rolling it out, we started on the back end and on some of the higher-trafficked product pages,” says Gillings. “That way, we could start seeing the benefits of the new site earlier, in terms of increased conversions, and also learn from users’ reaction to the new sections of the site.”

This was assessed in two ways. Users were invited to try out the new site in Code’s User Testing Lab, where they could be observed through a one-way screen. Additionally, the new site was designed to allow for A/B testing. Two groups of visitors to the site clicking on the same category page, such as blinds or carpets, could each be shown a separate design, with the performance of each page assessed relative to the other.

“We learned a lot from user feedback,” says Gillings. “Our initial thought was that all users should be able to see all the same content, whether on a PC, tablet or mobile, but in fact we quickly learned that mobile users wanted a quicker route to the product pages and were less interested in watching videos, for example. Not only is the way the content is presented different for mobile users, some of the content itself is also filtered out.”

Mobile optimisation
The mobile optimisation has reaped rewards for the company. The site is not transactional. Instead, it encourages customers to request an appointment with one of its sales advisers to measure up, view samples and request a quote – so in Hillarys’ website terms, a conversion is when a customer requests an appointment. Almost immediately after the launch of the first phase of the responsive site, mobile conversions went up, averaging a 39 per cent year-on-year rise.

“We are still seeing significant monthly increases in mobile traffic, so it’s great that we are providing these users with a digital experience that is clearly encouraging them to convert,” says Gillings.

Mobile aside, more generic work on site optimisation has also delivered impressive results. In the past few months alone, Code deployed a programme of 26 tests, A/B testing different calls to action and new sections of the site to increase engagement with the brand. Together these have delivered a staggering £2.6m in additional revenues, off the back of almost 14,000 additional appointments.

The final piece of the jigsaw was a new SEO/PPC strategy that increased volume, while at the same time improving cost efficiency. The strategy focused on Hillarys’ core blinds business, while simultaneously growing other product categories. It was tested on Hillarys’ primary keyword, ‘blinds’, before being rolled out across other campaigns.

On the SEO front, a combination of a 360-degree SEO strategy, and the migration to a more SEO-friendly, responsive site, saw SEO traffic grow by 322,000 year-on-year. A specific focus on mobile saw mobile organic traffic increase by 203 per cent year-on-year, with a 151 per cent increase in appointments from mobiles.

Not surprisingly, Gillings is delighted with the results, and with Code’s contribution to them, but acknowledges that in the digital space, resting on your laurels is not an option.

“The work is never done – or as Code says, brilliant never stops,” she says. “There are always new things we want to try, so we are on a programme of continuous improvement, user testing, A/B testing and analysing the data to get a better picture of what our users want. It’s good for us, but more importantly, it’s good for them.”

This sponsored article first appeared in the June 2017 print edition of Mobile Marketing. You can read the whole issue here.