It seems that in the digital world, a common theme tends to dominate among companies and marketers alike – marketing comes first, measurement comes second. The most significant contributing factor to this theme is the speed at which certain technology mediums and platforms become adopted by consumers. It’s not like organizations don’t want to measure, they just have priorities….and usually the first priority is establishing a solid presence.
Therefore, it’s not really surprising that many organizations have never developed a measurement program based on the type of device a visitor employs. Of course, organizations are beginning to wake up to the need to develop a multi-screen strategy – one that takes into account website user preferences based on the type of device they are using. But how do you utilize data to inform this strategy if you’ve never taken the time to develop a measurement program?
The focus of this discussion is to provide practical steps on how to utilize website analytics to plan and research a multi-screen strategy for your website. These steps will also help you build a business case for obtaining resources to improve overall return on investment for your entire digital marketing plan.
Step 1 – Segment by Type of Device
Companies should segment and analyze website traffic based on the type of device used. To avoid being overwhelmed with data, it’s usually reasonable to divide screens into three categories:
- Desktop Devices
- Mobile Devices/Smartphones
The reasons they should do this is simple—website usage and consumers behaviour differ based on the type of device used when online. There is a plethora of research outlining how activity varies, for some examples view this article.
These differences in tendencies are important because they shape the context in which we analyze website performance. Fortunately, popular web analytics programs have made this easy to do. For instance, Google Analytics has an option to view site usage by Mobile and Tablet devices through their ‘Advanced Segment’ dropdown menu.
Step 2 – Get a Sense of the Visitor Size for Each Device
Visits from mobile devices can represent a decent portion of website visitors as well – and knowing this size can really help to build a business case for spending resources on developing a multi-screen strategy. For instance, on many of our clients’ websites, mobile traffic currently accounts for up to as much as 25% of all traffic. And mobile visits will continue to rise.
The real trick of course is to determine whether device traffic has increased over time – this is something that has been quite noticeable over the last couple of years for many sites. And while it is true that there are some companies that do not experience significant portions of website visitors coming from mobile devices, those seem to be becoming more of a minority.
Does Your Mobile Traffic Look Like This?
Step 3 – Site Usage Statistics and Expectations
Many commonly used out-of-the-box site usage statistics are applicable across all types of devices. The smaller the screen size however, the more likely site usage becomes more focused on immediate need-satisfaction (e.g. users are less likely to browse – they are more goal-directed). Thus, when analyzing performance, the appropriate expectations need to be employed. Consider the following examples.
Average Time Spent on Page
The key here is to ensure that each segment of users is spending enough time to absorb the most important content. For example, if you do not have a mobile-optimized website and mobile visitors are spending significantly less time on a page featuring a news article compared to desktop visitors, mobile visitors are likely not reading the article. If you do have a mobile-optimized website it allows for better reading, then a lower average time spent on the page might be telling a more positive story.
Most Visited Pages
For mobile segments, it is quite possible that a smaller amount of pages will account for a large portion of all page views compared to desktop visitors. For example mobile visitors may only be interested in certain content, so they tend to flock to a fewer number of pages. Desktop users might be interested in obtaining more information, so their behaviour tends to be spread out.
Bounce Rates should be fairly similar for each type of device. A high Bounce Rate on a mobile device versus a low Bounce Rate for desktop devices usually suggests a problem with the mobile experience. In most cases, the same can be said for Exit Rates (loosely defined as the percentage of visitors that leave the website through a specific page).
Step 4 – Establish Device-Specific Conversions
While mobile visitors are very goal-directed in their browsing of a website, conversions for mobile visitors will differ from desktop users. For instance, they may be more likely to visit a page that features a map to your store or to click on a phone number, and they may be less inclined to fill out a form.
Obviously the activity in this step involves examining whether users are engaging in the appropriate conversions based on the device they are using. However, it is quite possible that your company or department has not even taken the time to consider these differences, and so you might not have the data available. If this sounds familiar, you’ve just identified an immediate opportunity to improve your organization’s digital strategy.
Step 5 – Overlay Different Segments
There is a lot of value in overlaying different segments on top of device segments. For instance, this is where you can really begin to understand whether your other marketing activities (e.g. online advertisements) are optimized for mobile devices, as well as how the entire user experience – from finding your website to leaving it – differs across device types. The following List considers some commonly used overlay segments and some of the questions that you might employ when integrating them into your analysis.
Do mobile users tend to favour one online channel over the other? Do mobile users tend to engage in conversions when coming from one type of traffic source versus the other? Are our online marketing activities (e.g. newsletters) effective at driving users to the website regardless of device type?
Are users employing more generic terms to find a site on mobile devices? Are smartphone users leaving the website right away if they have used a certain keyword to access our site? Is our mobile SEO strategy effective at helping users find our website for popular keyword terms?
Which pages within the website do mobile users tend to access the most? Are mobile users leaving the website upon arriving at a landing page? Is the landing page doing a good job of driving mobile users to take a specific action (i.e. conversion)?
Using these five techniques will put you well on the road to understanding whether your organization’s multi-screen strategy is working in the way it was intended (or whether there is a significant need to begin thinking about one). Even more importantly, it will help you identify and improve your entire visitor experience, so that they’re taking the actions you want them to take.
All this leads to enhanced return on investment from marketing initiatives (regardless of whether the website is the focal point of a campaign or not –it might drive users indirectly). Now, how to utilize analytics for online marketing initiatives based on the type of device they’re using – that’s a whole other blog post.