According to published reports, there were 20 million iPhones, 18 million Android-based Samsung Galaxy S3s, and 17 million iPads sold in the third quarter of 2012. The mobile channel, as such, can’t be ignored. But, “mobile” is complicated. It covers a wide range of devices and experiences. In this article, I will briefly address the key questions you should be asking about your mobile-web audience.
For starters, smartphones and tablets are two very different classes of mobile devices. Customers are likely visiting your site for different reasons and with different expectations when they use a smartphone versus a tablet. And don’t assume that your “standard” web experience is sufficient and effective for tablet users just because tablets have larger screens.
Where should you focus your investments in the mobile channel? A good place to start that analysis is with data — quantitative data you already have, and qualitative data you can get — to answer five questions.
Question 1: What Is Current Mobile Traffic?
How much of the traffic to my site is from smartphone and tablet users? To determine how critical mobile is for you right now, you need to know how much smartphone-based and tablet-based traffic your site is already receiving. Google Analytics makes it pretty easy to do this through advanced segments. To get tablet traffic, simply click on Advanced Segments at the top of the Google Analytics window and choose Tablet Traffic.
With that segment selected, navigate to Audience > Mobile > Devices to see a breakdown of the specific tablets visiting your site. Don’t be surprised if the traffic skews heavily to the iPad, but take note of the other tablets as well — if your site doesn’t effectively support Android or Windows Mobile visitors, you may be losing revenue.
Obtaining smartphone traffic data is a bit trickier, as it requires building a custom segment. I’ve built one that you can use for your site at this link. When you click on the link, you will be prompted with a window to choose the profile in which you want the segment to be available.
Select a profile, click Create, and then, on the next screen save the segment.
Again, view the Audience > Mobile > Devices report for a breakdown of the smartphones visiting your site.
Using these two segments, you can monitor what portion of the overall traffic to your site is from smartphones and from tablets.
Question 2: What Are Mobile Traffic Sources?
How are smartphone and tablet users getting to your site? Before answering this question with data, try to answer it based on your own speculation. Do you send out regular emails that include links that users might be reading and clicking through on their phones? Have you done outbound promotions that are specifically targeted to smartphone and tablet users?
With the two segments described above selected, go to the Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic report. Is this traffic you intentionally drove to the site? If so, did you drive it to pages where they would have a good mobile experience? Or, is this traffic coming through mobile-oriented social media channels such as Twitter? Are a significant number of visitors coming to the site directly, and not from a referral site or a campaign? If so, why would they be doing that? Google Analytics can’t answer this question, but you might be able to effectively speculate.