What Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages Will Do to the Purchase Funnel

Google’s open-source, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project has been adopted quickly by publishers across the world, including The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and The Guardian.

Assuming the AMP project will expand its reach beyond news outlets, what is the potential impact of AMPs on the purchase funnel?

For publishers, some benefits of AMPs are attractive and have led to accelerated adoption of this new format.

Benefits include…

  • Articles’ loading quickly
  • Ads’ being supported
  • The availability of analytic data

However, there are problems with AMPs that should be considered before small and midsize businesses (SMBs) invest in this new format:

  • No interstitial ads and site takeovers
  • Attempts at gated content resulting in a poor mobile experience
  • Declines in sales and subscriptions
  • The potential for declines in website traffic

Given the projected growth of content marketing and the prevalence of purchase funnels, the aforementioned reasons should make any publisher look askance at the current state of the AMP project.

Early Adopter of AMPs

Let’s look at an example of gated content from WSJ.

Two decades ago, WSJ opted to gate content on its website. Regarding the desktop version of the website, the WSJ makes it clear which articles are protected by paywall and which are freely available. The call-to-action occurs early in those gated articles, such as in the article highlighted above.

However, WSJ’s AMPs lack the ability to push users into the funnel. In fact, the same article highlighted above is fully accessible without a subscription to WSJ via the AMP version of the article on a mobile device.

In the example, WSJ may consider publishing truncated versions of AMP articles that encourage users to subscribe. The publication could make it clear that users need to proceed into the purchase funnel to access the full article.

With smartphone search queries consuming more than half of all searches, users’ adoption of AMPs is likely to expand. The AMP carousel in Google’s SERP makes it easier to navigate the news. AMPs allow users the ability to avoid paywalls and funnels, which (as we’ve seen with WSJ) is a concern that publishers of gated content should strongly consider before making AMPs a priority.

Optimizing the Mobile User’s Funnel Experience

Despite the downsides highlighted above in the WSJ example, there appears to be a ray of light in the current format of AMPs. At the moment, internal links within AMPs direct users to the mobile version of the next article.

In other words, clicking through to a related article anchored in the AMP redirects you to the mobile version of the publisher’s website rather than to the AMP version of the article.

Using “related content” anchors, publishers and content marketers could encourage users to click through and then engage them in the purchase funnel.

Clicking through the internal links of your AMP articles:

  • Pre-qualifies your mobile audience
  • Tells you exactly which topics are of greatest concern
  • Allows you the ability to funnel these leads appropriately

Once an AMP user lands on your website, your responsive interstitial and in-text promotions become critical components for turning AMP prospects into qualified leads.

In the smartphone screenshot below from the Guardian, the publisher harnesses an opportunity to promotes its mobile app within the content of the mobile version of this article, which I accessed after clicking through from the AMP version of a related article.

If your business is considering AMPs, consider how the format may contribute to the overall experience of the mobile user. Ensure that when a user clicks through from an AMP to your website, the mobile version of your website loads quickly and that any funnel or interstitial you implement is responsive.

AMP users enjoy the AMP versions of articles because they load quickly and are easy to navigate. So, ensure that your mobile site offers a similar experience before you adopt AMPs.

Concerns for Publishers and Content Marketers

Assuming AMPs expand beyond media outlets into areas that affect content marketing, decide whether the latest Google initiative is worth the risk. Does this initiative align with your business objectives?

Consider two situations in which AMPs may not align with your website or your business:

  1. Trying to build your email marketing list? AMPs may not serve your best interest, at least not with the current format. Interstitial ads and screen takeovers aren’t allowed, which present a problem for many popular purchase funnels on the market.
  2. Trying to sell a service? AMPs may not serve your best interest either. Your service could be served in a carousel alongside those of your competitors. Price-conscious consumers can easily skim carousels and miss your unique selling proposition.

If adoption of AMPs continues beyond news outlets, new opportunities to move users from AMPs back into the funnel will need to be created. Current funnel technologies do not always present the best experience for mobile users because of dependencies on takeovers and interstitial ads.

Despite what might seem like insurmountable challenges, AMPs may help you construct a more relevant purchase funnel that converts like never before for smartphone users.

With AMP analytics, you could build purchase funnels responsive to the demands of mobile users. Only your specific analytic data will paint the picture of your mobile customers’ journey and your response to the AMP project.

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