The adoption of mobile has meant that there are now over 2.6 billion smart phones across the globe (source) and 69% of smartphone owners will use mobile search first in a moment of need. 2016 saw the number of mobile phones and tablets surpass the number of desktop devices. And thanks to Covid the internet has seen users increase their daily mobile phone browsing time increase from 2 hours to 5 hours a day!
The most efficient way to introduce these potential customers to your product or service is by meeting them on their preferred platform.
With data like this, any marketer or website manager that ignores their mobile analytics is doomed to suffer the consequences of lost customers, poor user experience and lower conversion rates.
According to Google, more than half of web traffic now comes from mobile devices and over 40% of sales are transacted on a mobile.
Mobile has changed the way users interact with brands and manage their lives at a record-setting pace. Marketers have had to catch up and this channel is only expected to grow.
Can your business afford to ignore mobile?
What is the difference between mobile traffic, desktop traffic and tablets?
Digital Marketers use Google’s device category definitions to monitor the devices their users are browsing on. The definitions are self-explanatory but let’s highlight them for you:
Mobile = smart phones
Desktop = PCs, Macs, etc
Tablets = iPads, Surface tablets etc
A mobile-enabled web or mobile-optimised site is a site that’s designed to recognise the device that is being used to browse and the website will adjust for the user’s device. For example, a user browsing on a mobile will have a small screen, typically 3-4 inches in height, so the website will reduce the size of its images to scale with the smaller viewing experience.
Google Analytics is the perfect tool to help understand more about your website’s performance, especially mobile analytics.
So, hop into your Google Analytics account and you can see a breakdown of your website’s traffic. Who they are, how they found you and the device they’re browsing on.
From the above Google Analytics account screen shot you can see this website receives 58% of its visits through mobile devices.
With the knowledge of what device your users are browsing on you have the essential data to gain an understanding of their experience and how to improve it.
How mobile speed can make or break your business
Browsing on mobile is a different world to browsing on a desktop and understanding the differences in these experiences is crucial to ensure you don’t lose customers and conversions.
Speed is one of the key factors to consider for user experience and website development.
Users are impatient and a generation has now grown up with streaming and smart phones at their fingertips. Browsers expect instant gratification and demand access now – they’re not willing to wait.
Every second counts
Browsers on a mobile are distracted, often using multiple screens (ie. watching TV while browsing) and moving back and forth across apps – their attention is not dedicated to you and can be easily lost. And there’s a thin line between satisfaction and frustration.
More than 50% of visits are abandoned if a website takes more than 3 seconds to load.
By taking another look at the stats from our Google Analytics account screen shot, we can see from the mobile analytics data that users on a mobile have a higher bounce rate, less average page views, and less time on site.
How speed hits the bottom line
If you have a mobile site that loads slowly or has a poor UX you are not only likely to lose that user in this instance, but a poor mobile experience can damage the perception of a brand and hurt your chances of that user ever returning to your site. More than half of users admit that they see a website with poor mobile experience as a negative endorsement of the brand.
Whilst the company we have supplied as an example has a mobile-optimized site it doesn’t have a mobile-first strategy and you can see the effect this has on the user experience for mobile traffic.
Users spend less time on the site and are more likely to ‘bounce’ than those visiting on a desktop.
“…according to the most recent data, 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. And 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance say they’re less likely to purchase from the same site again.” (source)
Users on a desktop have the option to view a larger screen, they can take in different messaging. They’re probably more serious about what they’re researching and likely to be further down the sales funnel.
However, 40% of people prefer to complete a whole order process on their mobile, all the way from research to purchase.
As per our screenshot above, you can see that this website’s conversion rate is lower through its mobile traffic than its desktop traffic. And, whilst their position in the sales funnel could have some contribution to a lower conversion rate, often it’s more likely down to a poor mobile experience.
- Slow page load times
- Poor UX
- Ill-fitting content
With an impatient generation of users that now have purchasing power the stakes are high for mobile experience. Users expect a mobile site experience to be seamless, smooth and fast. When their experience doesn’t match their expectation, it does damage to the brand.
“Anything less than an instant and effortless experience simply won’t cut it.” (source Thinkwithgoogle)
A 1 second delay in mobile load time can impact conversions up to 20%
Google completed a study with SOASTA and they found that shoppers are less likely to convert on clunky or complex pages. These are categorised as pages with many elements and images.
The number of elements and/or images on a page increased its complexity and increases page load time.
Can you afford a slow page load?
We’d recommend testing your website’s mobile speed with Google.
How and why users will browser your website
Users browse mobile sites to research and dig deeper. Mobile sites answer a customer’s need for information and engagement.
You do not need an app if your mobile site is strong enough to engage users by providing them with the content they’re looking for.
2 out of 3 people say they can achieve the same goal on a brand’s mobile site as they can on an app.
“…in some instances, people will switch from an app to a mobile site when shopping, browsing, researching, or purchasing. This is especially true when they want to go directly to the source, if they’re more familiar with the mobile site, or when they want to broaden their search.” (source – ThinkwithGoogle)
Best practice is to use your Google Analytics account and asses which pages the users are visiting on a mobile and how they’re interacting with those pages.
Optimise your mobile site with information from your mobile analytics – how your users are engaging with the site. Find the pages that have a high bounce rate through mobile users, or low time on site and adjust the content to suit those users.
Why should you closely monitor your mobile analytics?
There isn’t 1 definitive mobile browsing experience. There are different browsers, different devices, and different user experiences.
Nearly half of users admit they won’t consider purchasing from a brand that has a poorly designed mobile site.
Consumers are ready to buy and/or engage with your website, but it needs to be a smooth process to do so.
If you’re not monitoring your mobile traffic and the performance of the users browsing on those devices you could be damaging your conversion rate without realising.
Should your website have a mobile-first strategy?
With half of your web traffic expected to be on a mobile device, is it time to switch to a mobile-first strategy? This means instead of designing your website for a desktop user you shape your business and website around mobile users as the priority.
As we’ve mentioned above, a mobile-friendly version is no longer enough. The mobile user experience browsing your site must be smooth, seamless and identical to the desktop experience.
Implementing a mobile-first strategy involves everyone, from management, marketing, and content building to development and creative. Everyone must be onboard.
It could be the right decision for your company, but first you need to look at the stats and understand how your users are browsing your site and if a mobile-first strategy would help or hinder your business.
Remember to check your mobile analytics!
Tailor your creative for mobile-first
When building and updating your website you’re probably at a desk, building wireframes or editing content and designs. But a mobile user has at best 3-4 inches of screen to look at.
Smartphone conversion has increased over the years as users have become accustomed to browsing on a phone and websites have caught up and created faster mobile-optimized sites with improved UX. In most cases there is now little difference between the conversion rate on a desktop and the conversion rate on a well optimised mobile site.
If that’s not the case with the traffic coming to your site from mobile devices you’ll need to ask yourself why – and (again!) check your mobile analytics.
It’s not always necessary to switch to a mobile-first strategy. Marketers will be relieved to hear that in some circumstances using the data you have available and optimising your campaigns and/or content can significantly impact your mobile site performance, as we’ll explain below.
What can you do to capitalise on mobile traffic?
Mobile specific in Google ads
52% of PPC traffic is now through mobile devices – if half of your PPC campaigns are sending mobile traffic to your website and landing pages, are those pages optimised for those users or are they hitting a desktop-first page?
Google and other search engine providers can provide the ability to tailor your ads to the browsers device. If your user is browsing Google on a mobile, they can see an ad that sends them to a mobile-first landing page. This page would be better optimised for their experience and needs than a desktop experience would be. And vice versa for someone browsing on a desktop – you don’t want them to land on a mobile-first landing page.
This is optimising the content and experience for your mobile browsing user. It doesn’t require a mobile-first strategy across the site but incorporates it in your marketing.
Mobile specific Facebook ads
Facebook has over 2.75 billion mobile users on their network and 81% of their users are solely on a mobile device, never accessing the site via a desktop.
Only 1.7% of their users will access the site via a laptop or similar. So, targeting customers for a mobile-based experience on Facebook is almost essential.
Unlike Google ads, you should assume your users are browsing on a mobile and ensure your landing pages are optimised as such.
Mobile specific LinkedIn posts
57% of LinkedIn’s traffic comes from mobile use – a lower figure in comparison to Facebook, but it’s still a majority mobile user base and should be considered when using the LinkedIn platform for your marketing campaigns.
Unlike Google AdWords, LinkedIn does not provide the option to target users who are browsing on a mobile. This means you can’t supply different content and landing pages based on their devices so you will just need to bear in mind that over half of those visits you’re paying for will be browsing on a mobile device.
Mobile specific SEO
Google places a lot of SEO value on a mobile-optimised site. They value positive user experience and if a lack of a mobile-optimised site creates a poor user experience, then this impacts your users and therefore your search engine organic ranking.
So, since 2017 Google has begun penalising websites that aren’t mobile-optimised thanks to their mobile-first indexing. This means that they prioritise a mobile version of a website in their organic results, however, they do separate their results for mobile and desktop users. If you browse on a desktop you will see the desktop version indexed and vice versa for mobile.
Google wants to ensure that the traffic on Google mobile and desktop have an identical experience.
“Matt Southern provided a great summarized list of what Google meant by the same experience:
- Ensuring Googlebot can access and render mobile and desktop page content and resources.
- Making sure the mobile site contains the same content as the desktop site.
- Using the same meta robots tags on the mobile and desktop site.
- Using the same headings on the mobile site and desktop site.
- Making sure the mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data.”
Mobile specific web pages
As we mentioned earlier in this article, a mobile-first website is not always necessary to run a successful online presence. However, mobile specific web pages can be an excellent option for targeted campaigns.
How mobile browsing can bolster instore sales
Mobile browsing isn’t constrained to within a 3-4 inch screen, it goes beyond the phone and impacts in-store sales too.
61% of shoppers prefer buying from a brand that also has a brick-and-mortar location and 80% of shoppers will go directly to the store if they have an urgent need.
Mobile shoppers will user a brand’s website to inspire their purchase. This means they’re looking for a brand that stocks a specific item. For example, in the below screenshot I’m searching for ‘mens socks’ and Google is providing examples of websites selling men’s socks. This is research that’s inspiring me (the user) to shop at Bonds.
Purchase inspiration provides suggestions, recommendations and reviews. It helps create a better-informed consumer with a clearer idea of what they’re looking for before they ever enter a store.
Once a user has done their research and feels ‘inspired’ they can use their mobile to plan a trip to the store:
“in the past two years, we’ve seen over 150% growth in mobile searches for “__ near me now” (source)
They also use Google’s functionality and/or a brand’s mobile site to check opening hours, directions, wait times, contact details and even product availability.
And, in the browsing phase, once they have narrowed down their selection a bit more, they use their phones to drill down even further. For example, I may have selected to purchase some black men’s socks from Bonds, but I can research online to find out which stores near me have the exact pairs I want and for the price I want to pay, with returns available and a loyalty card accepted.
Use your mobile analytics, but if you’re a marketer, you may need to consider an omni-channel experience. You may have spent your time and budget optimising your ads and SEO for ‘mens black socks’ only to find that another retailer sells the same pair for cheaper, or with a better optimised site, or they’re closer, or they offer a loyalty discount etc.
A mobile strategy is the first step and it’s an essential one that cannot be ignored.
Summary: Remain device agnostic. Make sure you have a Google Analytics account and use the mobile analytics to assess where your customers are and what they’re using. If the majority of your visitors are using a mobile device to access your site, then not targeting your content and user experience to them is ignoring the majority and working for the minority.
Tailor your experience for mobile users. Marketers that don’t may be ignoring their biggest demographic and harming their bottom line.