Making Sense Of Mobile Traffic Responses

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The mobile channel is delivering larger audiences than ever before and shows no signs of slowing down soon. But the big question is how to respond to the needs of mobile channel users in a way that leaves your digital strategy – and your budget – intact.

Many businesses are starting to experience meaningful levels of mobile channel traffic. For some, mobile is driving 10% of site traffic; for others, mobile amounts to 20% or more of total web users. Either way, mobile demands an informed response capable of facilitating brands connections for the growing ranks of mobile users.

Although specific responses to mobile channel traffic will depend largely on your brand’s digital strategies and business objectives, there are at least three options or issues that are worth considering.

1.  Tablets

Right away, you need to get a handle on how much of your mobile traffic is coming from tablets versus small-screen mobile devices (e.g. smartphones). With tablet devices gaining popularity in leaps and bounds, it’s important to understand how consumers use tablets to interact with your site.

Tablet user experiences mimic the user experiences generated by laptops and desktops. Larger screens and other features deliver similar navigation and user characteristics as non-mobile computing devices. At Walker Sands, we’ve seen conversion rates for iPad visitors that are closely aligned with average conversion rates – a stark contrast to smartphone conversion rates, which tend to be much lower.

2.  Mobile Apps

Despite advances in tablet usage rates, most mobile traffic originates from smartphones. So the next step is to carefully weight the value of creating a mobile app(s) to optimize the mobile user experience.

The advantage of a mobile app is that it can be a slick, user-friendly connection vehicle for mobile consumers. The right app has the ability to deliver a truly unique and differentiated customer experience – no small feat in competitive markets dominated by tech-savvy consumers.

But apps are also expensive. Since apps are platform specific, you’ll need to create an app for multiple mobile platforms (e.g. Apple, Android, etc.), not to mention ongoing investments in troubleshooting and updating. Unless you have a large budget or a need to create a mobile user experience that is radically different from your typical site experience, an app may be overkill for your mobile agenda.

3.  Mobile Optimized Site

Many brands discover that a mobile-optimized website gives them the best of both worlds, providing a high-level of mobile functionality as well as cost-efficiency. By streamlining navigation, toning down the images and simplifying your design, you can create a mobile experience that is user-friendly and capable of delivering higher conversion rates.

If mobile optimization sounds like a viable strategy for your brand, be sure to reduce form requirements, minimizing the number of fields it takes for users to provide baseline information. For smartphone users, long forms are the kiss of death and a surefire motivation for abandoning the conversion process.

Although mobile optimization still requires a certain amount of mobile investment, the cash demands of a mobile optimized website are substantially lower than the development and maintenance of a mobile app, especially since your current web developer should be capable of optimizing your site for mobile.

The truth is that there are no simple answers to the mobile challenge. But by discerning how mobile users are interacting with your site and designing strategies to improve the mobile user experience, you can dramatically improve your brand’s effectiveness in reaching an ever-expanding mobile customer base.

About the Author

John Fairley is the Director of Digital Services at Walker Sands Communications, a full-service marketing and public relations firm focused on delivering growth for business-to-business clients.

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2 Comments

  1. As the number of web browsers using a mobile device continues to increase, website owners and marketers need to create a mobile strategy. While the amount of traffic will vary based on industry and target audience for now, things are only moving in that direction. It's best to be prepared now instead of trying to play catch up once it's too late.

  2. Nick, You are spot on about the need for marketers to create a mobile strategy now. We continue to see growth in mobile traffic to websites, as a percentage of all traffic. With increasing tablet and smartphone sales and usage, I do expect this trend to continue for some time. It's better to start planning and budgeting now, rather than discovering down the road that it's an issue and scrambling to try and address it. If you built a mobile website 2 years years ago, you were bleeding edge. A year ago, cutting edge. Build it today and you can be a leader. Build it tomorrow, you will be a market follower.