Mobile Growth and its Effect on Users (What to Be on the Lookout For)

By Tinuiti Team

2011 was definitely a great year for mobile with both tablet & smartphone device usage picking up with number of our clients seeing mobile traffic pick up by more than 2x YoY. The increased usage of mobile devices is bound to continue throughout 2012 and as marketers it’s our job to understand how users are now utilizing both smartphones and tablets during their buying cycle.

Between smartphones & tablets there is definitely a distinct difference in how users are utilizing their mobile devices. An Adobe market study in 2011 shows that tablet users are more inclined to spend more on their purchases than smartphone and desktop users and have similar conversion rates to desktop users with smartphone users lagging farther behind. The average order value in 2011 during their study shows that consumers spend $123 on a tablet, $102 on a desktop, and $80 on a mobile phone. The conversion rates in 2011 from the same study shows tablet and desktop both around 2.3% while mobile lagged behind by just 0.8%.

A smartphone can be your ultimate shopping companion; however it does not serve as your shopping portal. Nearly 79% of smartphone users surveyed mentioned using their smartphone to help during their purchasing period (i.e. price comparison and reading reviews on the go). In saying so, 70% use their smartphone while in store, and they are even more frequently used during holiday seasons. For example, a study shows that queries from mobile phones for Black Friday increased by 200% from 2010 to 2011 (in fact, more than 15% of total Black Friday searches came from smartphones this past year. Instead of being a direct sales platform, smartphones should be considered “buyer assistants” with 65% of high end phone users surveyed reporting that they used their mobile phone to find a business and then proceeded to make purchases at that business’s brick and mortar. However, that does not mean that direct sales aren’t important. Adobe conducted a survey in 2011, and 62% of those who were surveyed confirmed that they have made a purchase via their smartphone in the past six months.

Tablets are the ultimate shopping platform. A study done by the Etailing Group shows that tablet usage is quite different than mobile users. Tablet users are much more active from a research and buying perspective than mobile counterparts. The daily to weekly usage is at 29% on a tablet, and 22% on a smartphone. Monthly, the percentages are at 31% and 28% respectively. These statistics indicate a proclivity for making shopping one of the main usages for tablet owners.  Furthermore, a strong 25% of table users have made at least six purchases in the past six months (versus 16% on their smartphones). 39% have made 2-5 purchases (versus 30% on their smartphones).

On the other hand, around 3% of all visits from a desktop or laptop lead to sales. Around 5% of visits from tablet computers results in sales. On average, tablet users tend to make orders that are 10-20 percent higher than PC or smartphone orders. Additionally, tablet visitors spent over 50% more purchase and were nearly three times more likely to purchase than smartphone users. A 2011 Online Publisher Association study shoes that more than 29% of tablet owners have a disposable income greater than $75K.

As these statistics outline the obvious, we must treat smartphone and tablet initiatives differently, and devise separate goals for both platforms. Tablet users are more likely to purchase via their device than mobile users, and have a much stronger average order value than that of mobile shoppers. Smartphone strategies and focuses should be geared towards users still in the decision/research making process and your LP should be set up directly to target that audience segment. Tablet initiatives have potential to be more direct response driven and should focus on driving the consumer to point of sale.

In addition to usage distinction, marketers should also optimize their tablet & mobile campaigns to stronger coverage during the evening when mobile usage is at its peak.  Google recently released a traffic distribution study which clearly shows mobile and tablet traffic pick up during the evening starting from 6 PM (peaking around 9 PM) as more users are now moving away from relying on their desktop “after hours” instead replacing those traditional searches with their tablet or smartphone.

As with any strategic marketing plan, segmenting your audiences and pinpointing the appropriate tactics to implement for those different segments is standard. Going above and beyond to focus on specific buying behaviors and characteristics to drive sales as well as adding value to your ads is pertinent in this ever changing digital age.


Chris Chang is a Sr. Account Executive at Elite SEM Inc and has been in the paid search space for 6+ years. He oversees our San Francsico office and can be reached at [email protected]

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