Part I: How to Know Whether Your Site Desperately Needs Mobile

July 9, 2013 | Posted in B2B, Technology and tagged , , ,

Tablets. Smartphones. Google Glass. The world seems obsessed with devices. Marketers would have you believe that your very survival depends on being fully-integrated with mobile. But, is that really true?

We’re launching a weekly 3-part series focusing on Mobile Design and whether it’s right for your business. There is an answer. It’s not necessarily yes. And, fortunately, it’s entirely unique to you: any business can learn with precision whether a mobile strategy is warranted by simply digging into the numbers:

Part I: How to Know Whether Your Site Desperately Needs Mobile

Step 1: Scrub Your Google Analytics Data. No, Google Analytics isn’t the only web analytics tool available, but it is free, internationally available, widely used, and has robust features for diagnosing mobile usage. If it takes you more than five minutes to figure out mobile device usage on Google Analytics, I’ll eat my hat. This advice will only work if you already have a Google Analytics account in place, one that has been monitoring your traffic correctly for several months.

Now do this: 1) Log in; 2) Choose a date range—the past six months would be ideal; 3) Under the main “Reporting” tab (on the top navigation), look left and navigate to “Audiences” and it’s sub-filter “Mobile;” 4) Get an instant read on what percentage of your traffic is mobile vs. desktop.

Step 2: Draw the Right Conclusions.  Now that you have a basic sense for how much of your overall traffic can be attributed to mobile usage, decide whether to go deeper. If more than 10% of your traffic is currently driven by mobile, it’s time to drill down and view the accompanying trend. Go to Advanced Filter string together a query with the following parameters: “Include Mobile Containing Yes.” If average mobile usage during that time period shows higher usage in month 6 compared to month one (and a steady climb in-between) that means that the importance of mobile to your business has risen recently, over time. Now, compare mobile bounce rates to desktop bounce rates. If mobile bounce rates are higher, mobile users may be leaving your site after viewing only one page because they are frustrated by the experience. Repeat this exercise using different time periods. Does the data show something different if you look at one year’s worth of data? How about 18 months?

Step 3: If Warranted, Invest Adequately in Mobile. If mobile viewing accounts for a substantial amount of your traffic and/or mobile usage is growing, don’t settle on a strategy until you understand which mobile platforms are most frequently used by your visitors. On the left navigation tab, switch your view from “Mobile → Overview” to “Mobile → Devices” to get a cut of the data that shows which mobile operating systems are in use. Whether your users are largely skewed toward a single platform (e.g., iPad/iPhone) vs. multiple platforms (e.g., Apple and Android and Kindle Fire, etc.) will play a large role in how deeply you need to invest in mobile and, once you do, what that strategy might be.

Mobile website design has it’s benefits, but you may find out that you don’t have to go into it 100%. Even a small presence, different than a large-screen website with all the bells and whistles, might actually entice customers to contact you more often.

Stay tuned for next week’s Part II: When is Mobile Design Better than Responsive Design?

About Scott Weiss

Scott Weiss is the founder of Somethumb, a creative services agency focused on web design and development. "Like" us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, "Plus-One" us on Google+, "Connect" with us on LinkedIn, and view our portfolio on Somethumb.com.

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