Mobile Traffic Up 125% but Conversions Lag Behind Desktop [Study]

Growth in Visits Smartphone vs DesktopIt's no secret mobile usage is up, and brands are experiencing more and more visits to their website from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. But are they converting?

In the first edition of the BrightEdge Mobile Share report, data shows mobile traffic to sites is up 125 percent since 2012; yet, certain industries are seeing more traffic and conversions from mobile users than others.

BrightEdge showed which sectors specifically had significant growth in mobile traffic when compared to desktop. Topping the charts was software and technology, financial services and the real estate sectors.

Industries Leading Market Growth of Smartphone vs Desktop

But when it comes to conversions, smartphone users aren't converting at the same rate as desktop users. Mobile users converted at one-third the rate of desktop users overall, according to the study. But tablets users, however, converted at nearly the same rate as desktop.

Conversion Rate Smartphone vs Desktop

"Marketers have understood for a few years that they need mobile sites to take advantage of the explosion in mobile traffic, but many have existing sites that were not built for a smaller screen and do not take into account the user experience on mobile vs. desktop vs. tablet," said Brad Mattick, BrightEdge's VP of marketing. "Each device is unique in how consumers interact and engage, and marketing activities should reflect this. Leaders are taking the time to develop responsive web sites- our customer Microsoft for example has optimized their site for all device types and offers a fantastic targeted experience."

BrightEdge recommended capitalizing on missed opportunity in mobile traffic by ensuring sites are following best practices for mobile optimization, such as Google's guidelines for mobile.

"Marketers need to a do better job at addressing the user experience on smartphones," BrightEdge said in its report. "We also recommend paying close attention to common mistakes such as smartphone-only 404s and featuring app download messages that may disrupt the user experience for visitors to that page."

It's interesting to note that media and entertainment sites converted better with smartphone users versus desktop. Conversion rates exceeded desktop at a rate of 1.6x in those categories. In particular, sites within the travel and hospitality industry as well as ecommerce had above-average conversions when compared to desktop.

Industries With Highest Conversion Rate Smartphone vs Desktop

BrightEdge said it found a "strong correlation between the presence of video and multi-media content and conversions." And that "brands optimizing their sites for smartphones should seriously consider hosting video content," ensuring they follow Google's guidelines for video inclusion.

"Media and entertainment sites are centered around video and long-form content," Mattick said. "Many brands within this industry have learned how to optimize their assets for mobile, including formatting their articles so that the reading experience feels natural on a smartphone. An optimal experience encourages people to stay on their smartphones to consume these articles rather than switching to tablet or desktop - this drives conversions on mobile beyond what we're typically seeing across other industries."

The BrightEdge Mobile Share report tracks the impact of mobile across 6,000 of its customers, and web traffic for more than 5 billion pages to quantify how smartphones and tablets compare with desktop in terms of traffic and conversion.

You can access the full report here.

About the author

Jessica Lee is a marketer specializing in web content strategy and B2B/B2C writing. Since 2005, Jessica has been in the business of content and communications, with the past several years focused on the web marketing space.

Prior to launching her consulting business, bizbuzzcontent, Jessica was responsible for content strategy, development and marketing for Bruce Clay Inc. – a global SEO firm, where she served small businesses and Fortune 500 clients. Jessica's background also includes positions in traditional marketing, communications, broadcasting and publishing.

Jessica has a bachelor's in communications and public relations from San Diego State University. She also contributed to the book “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” 2nd edition.