“Research shows 60% of Mobile Web users had a problem in the past year when accessing a website on their phone”

In a study by IDC 494.2 million Smartphone units were shipped in 2011. During 2012, worldwide shipments are forecasted to grow 33.5% and at a average growth rate of 18.6% through to 2016 [1]. The rising demand for Smartphone’s is causing a fundamental shift in the way  people are accessing the internet. As the world moves more towards mobile devices and away from desktops, an important question that all businesses and organisations are having to address is: “are you maximising your mobile opportunity?”.

Mobile Website Optimisation

If the mobile opportunity is something relatively new to you or something you want to discover more about, then this post is for you. The following outlines five [5] key steps for getting your business/organisation presence in the mobile space by first understanding current trends in mobile user behaviour, particularly in terms of direct mobile-attributed conversions (i.e. purchase) and testing your mobile-friendly site.

Mobile user Behaviour

Below are some of the key findings related directly to mobile internet usage and mobile generated conversions published in a study conducted by Google – “The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users” [2].

  • 27% of Smartphone shoppers purchase via Mobile Websites.
  • 74% of Smartphone shoppers made a purchase as a result of using a Smartphone.
    • 76% in-store.
    • 59% online using a computer.
    • 35% Smartphone.
  • 95% of users have looked for local information and a result, 88% of users took action within the same day of which; 77% contacted the business and 44% had purchased.
  • Among various types of websites, search engine websites were ranked as the most visited website.

From a conversion point of view, these findings suggest people are highly likely to take action as a result of using their Smartphone. In addition to this, given the growing popularity of using mobile payment systems like Google Wallet and PayPal Here, we’re likely to see a growing trend in purchases made via mobile (Smartphone) devices.

Mobile Traffic vs Sales

From a search perspective, the results suggest people typically engage the same type of behaviours as they would if operating a desktop when searching for information (but in some cases more localised). In turn this is likely to mean that the majority of your non-direct mobile visitors are arriving to your website via a search engine. But just how many of website visitors are mobile visitors? Below we outline steps in Google Analytics to discover how much of your traffic is attributed to mobile.


  1. Generate a report in Google Analytics (GA) to identify the trend in mobile visits to your website. In GA you can do this by following the steps below:
    1. Navigate to ‘Standard Reporting’.
    2. Click the ‘Audience’ tab.
    3. Click ‘Mobile’ then ‘Overview’.
  2. Set a date range you would like to see traffic and/or conversion data for. Depending on how long you’ve had Google Analytics installed on your site, we suggest looking at relatively long time periods i.e. six or twelve month periods. Then,
  3. Choose the type of metrics you wish to compare in the chart i.e. Visits vs. Transactions (if you have an eCommerce site).
  4. Reviewing & Analysing the mobile data:
    1. If you want a visual overview of the percentage of mobile attributed visits contribute to total website visits for the date range your have set, click either the percentage icon
      GA Percentage View or the performance icon.
      GA Performance ViewFrom the menu in the top right hand of the table.
    2. In the Mobile Overview Standard Report, the Primary Dimension should be set to Mobile with two line items in the table below with No and Yes. To see only mobile data, next to the search filter click Advanced and enter the following filter settings and click Apply.
      GA Advanced Filter
    3. You should now only see traffic for mobile data only. In the chart, you will be able to see whether or not mobile data (i.e. visits and conversions) have increased.To drill down a step further, include as a Secondary dimension – Operating System.
      GA Secondary Dimensions
    4. To drill down a step further, include as a Secondary dimension – Operating System.
  5. The purpose of this report is to identify what type of mobile devices/operating systems are being used to access your website (e.g. iPhone, Android, and Windows powered mobile devices).

Website Optimisation for Mobile Devices

  1. Purpose: Is a move to add/include a mobile site version into the mix a good idea and why? Are you able to state and clearly justify the benefit a mobile version of your site will bring to your business and to your users? [1] Identify a clear purpose for why you think a mobile site will be of benefit and what reliable data can back this up?
  2. Objectives: Before adding or optimising your website for mobile traffic, it is important to determine what exactly  the objectives for the mobile version are. For example the objectives might be to improve number of conversions attributed to mobile traffic, to increase number of mobile visitors to the website, or to simply improve website experience for mobile users. By determining what the specific objectives are, you should then be able to put in place a strategic plan of action towards achieving those objectives.
  3. Make it super simple: Compared to a PC, mobile devices are smaller; therefore display screens are smaller and perhaps with that so are the patience and attention spans of your mobile visitors. Cramming a content filled page fit for a PC-sized web browser into a smart phone display is not much fun for many. So when optimising your site for mobile, based on the objectives for the mobile version, simplify the navigation, minimise the content (text and images), and only put what’s absolutely necessary. The easier your mobile site is for users to use the more likely they will use it.
  4. Call to action: If your mobile site is geared towards increasing online conversions, ensure the call-to-action signals are clear and obvious to users.
  5. Mobile redirects: Whether a visitor from a mobile device is redirected to your website via a search or is referred to as direct, speak to your developer about implementing automatic redirects to the mobile version of your site. Implementing this function will also avoid the effects of either carrier or Google Transcoding your webpages and the possibility of a user having a poor experience with your site through their mobile device

Other alternatives:

If you don’t want to invest significant time/resources into developing a mobile-friendly site, there are a number of hosted platforms you can use to help you stay up to date and manage all the devices and technology for you (e.g. Mobistro.com and Unitymobile.com).

Tracking mobile site activity

It’s important to note, from a tracking perspective, mobile devices essentially fall into two different classes. These can be referred to as “low-end” (i.e. mobile phones with WAP enabled browsers) – mobile devices that do not support JavaScript and “high-end” (i.e. Smartphone’s with full HTML browsers) – mobile devices that support JavaScript.

  • When tracking visitor activity on your mobile site, if your site has the standard ga.js script and _trackPageview calls then GA should be able to collect data from high-end mobile users. If however you want to ensure your mobile site also tracks activity from low-end mobile users, you will need to implement custom script depending on your server-side language. For details on this see the Google Analytics for Mobile Websites help page.
  • Whether you decide to have the mobile version of your site on its own .mobi domain or as a sub-domain, and in particular have links on the mobile site to the full site, given the way GA is designed to track single domains, you will need to implement cross-domain tracking.
  • Submit Mobile Sitemap to Google Webmaster tools.

Resources for testing your site for mobile traffic

  • GoMo: A Google driven initiative,  provides a free tool for testing how your mobile site renders on a Smartphone device. The full report also provides useful advice for further optimising your mobile site.
  • Mobile Emulators: Test whether or not your current site renders properly using the Gomez Mobile Readiness Test.
    • Android SDK (testing for Android powered devices only) device emulator shows how your site will appear on Android devices.
  • W3C mobile checker: is a useful resource for checking how mobile-friendly a specific URL is. The detailed report provides a comprehensive breakdown in order of severity of particular errors that occurred with recommendations to fix the issue.

Take action

The mobile movement is picking up momentum. It’s no doubt with the growing number of mobile/Smartphone devices being activated everyday so will website visits from these devices. If you’re interested in finding out more about how mobile visits are contributing to your overall traffic volume, including understanding mobile visitor behaviour and interaction with your site, speak with us.  We can help with providing an in-depth mobile Web Analytics analysis with actionable insights tailored to fit your digital marketing strategy.