Photo by ROBIN WORRALL / Unsplash

How to Analyze Mobile Metrics


You hear a lot about mobile metrics in digital marketing. When I was at the Think Shopper event at Google, they emphasized on investing in mobile. According to their insights, in the US, only 33% of advertisers have a mobile optimized website. There is clearly a huge gap between in actual consumer behavior and what companies are delivering online. It seems to me marketers aren’t seriously looking into mobile and executing on the insights.

So here is my few metrics scanning technique to quickly understand the signal from what is consumers are telling you about consumer journey or their experience on your site via mobile (in this case includes tablets). When companies don’t have a marketing plan, objective, goal… they usually ask analyst on what’s happening with traffic. What’s the current state?, blah blah.

I hate analyzing data without objectives and goals, but in reality, this is part of the job of analysts. Please remember that data analysis is as good as the business questions. When there are no good business questions to answer, then think of business questions you think fits the business then formulate the answers to answer those questions.

In such data analysis exercise, we still need some kind of tactical approach to understanding mobile. These are ideas, but I’m also attaching my rationale behind it. Additional ideas are welcome.

Here is the outline of the key analysis points

By how much is your mobile traffic growing? (questions the relevancy of mobile traffic to your business)

  • What is driving the traffic (questions where to potentially invest more or less based on current traffic drivers)
  • Are mobile users consuming the content differently (questions where and what to optimize or create content strategy)
  • Difference in interaction or task completion, mobile vs. non-mobile segment (questions if your mobile site is working or not)
  • Time factors, recency, and frequency (questions if your mobile is driving loyal or engaged audience)

By how much is your mobile traffic growing?

This is an obvious one. Given that many research papers are talking about the growth of mobile and it’s internet access, how is your website doing? My piece of advice doesn’t expect your mobile traffic is growing according to the industry or market trend.

One of the things I’ve noticed is content catered to mobile has done a lot with how your website’s organic reach to mobile users (content in either a form of content written about mobile, or page that is mobile optimized). * note organic, because companies do pay for ads targeting to mobile…

Make sure to look for signs that could possibility drive higher growth rate. In most cases the mobile traffic growth is not just happening naturally, it could be those content you’ve written or syndicated somewhere.

So as you can see, my blog’s mobile traffic growth is pretty significant looking at year on year. My blog traffic is very small, but imagine you see that growth in your company’s website. That growth is something. What percentage of traffic share does it represent? You might want to check that out by year over year. I’ve noticed 2010 to 2011 has shown significant growth particularly from tablets (iPad in particular). What about your website?

What is driving the traffic

Things you need to look for is traffic sources and the actual pages driving the mobile traffic growth. Would it be the inbound traffic to a website or would it be some content specifically in interests to mobile users’ journey online?

Again, an example from my data.

Wow, so Google is really helping me drive mobile traffic to my blog and year on year, it is driving a pretty significant percentage increase as well as volume (blurred). Avinash’s Occam Razor blog is also driving some good lift in mobile audience year on year for my blog.

So given that search is driving traffic, it is a good timing to look at the content that people are finding via Google SERP. So go to content and segment by organic search. You’ll see which page is really giving you that organic traffic from mobile.

Are mobile users consuming the content differently

Don’t expect the mobile user to stay on your website as long as PC browsers. Remember that most likely the mobile users are swiping their fingers and clicking rapidly through various content.

Also in their consumer journey, mobile users could physically be in different places from traditional PC environment Hence, consumer mindset on what info they need and expectation from their activity online are very different from traditional PC environment.

Review mobile segment vs. non-mobile segment, and look at page views per visit, bounce rate, time on site, and recency & frequency. This will set the tone on setting up a different digital marketing strategy for mobile, in both traffic acquisition, and usability of the website.

Difference in interaction or task completion, mobile vs. non-mobile segment

Do the same with the previous point on content by looking at mobile vs. non-mobile segment. The difference is to make sure you obsess about understanding the difference in task completion rate behavior pattern on mobile vs. non-mobile users.

Task completion could be anything on conversions such as file downloads, newsletter sign up, sales conversion, add to cart, watched a video, etc.

This part of the analysis is very important. Your website exists for a certain reason, hopefully not just to drive traffic, but to drive some outcome that adds value to both your customer/consumer or business. Obsess in analyzing mobile users against conversions.

Random ideas to look for in this exercise…

  • Recency & frequency for mobile converters, to look for differences in customer journey pattern
  • Landing page difference for converters and page value
  • Multi-channel attribution on mobile segment vs. non-mobile segment
  • Conversion rate analysis by traffic sources
  • Customer profiling on mobile converters vs. non-mobile segment (age, gender, etc.) Yes, you can do this if you have your analytics integrated with social graph

Time factors, recency, and frequency

I’ve kind of touch this in the previous point but keep in mind that smartphones are with consumers 24-7. It is personal, and they may have apps they frequently use to access blogs or get notifications on a phone while in their pocket to read things.

As you can see from my recency or ‘day since past last visit’ shows 2 days apart traffic shows a higher traffic distribution on this bucket than a non-mobile segment. My blog traffic is obviously going to be different from your site, so check out to see if you are getting some interesting results.

It is probably more likely that users on mobile ar revisiting your website more frequently given that you’re adding content occasionally.

Analytics solutions like Mixpanel can also perform cohorts analysis, so you might find your traffic has a better recency conversion from one event to another event (i.e. free signup to premium account signup).

Eyeball the time factor in conversion really closely, mobile customer journey is very different from traditional PC behavior so you might find different insights leading to a whole new digital marketing strategy.

Hopefully, you can find something interesting about your consumers or customers on smartphones. Have fun analyzing!!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my content.  If you've liked what I've had to say please subscribe!


Kris Twitter

As a data journalist, I enjoy curating and analyzing marketing trends, and data. The things that fascinate me the most are the transforming business landscape due to evolving marketing technologies.