Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mobile Analytics – are you reaching all your mobile audience?

More and more companies are launching their dedicated mobile sites, specifically designed for mobile users. If you are one of these companies, you are probably very happy to see some traffic coming to your new site – thanks to the mobile analytics solution you have in place (whatever solutions you have implemented).

But are you sure that your mobile site is reaching all your “mobile” audience i.e. mobile users surfing on your online domain? Does all mobile traffic, whether it is direct traffic or coming from search engines lands on you mobile site?

The problem
As I am working in the automotive industry, I will use industry related examples. Let’s first take BMW. They have a mobile site accessible at http://www.bmw.mobi. Great. But if I type www.bmw.de on a mobile device (an iphone for example), I don’t get redirected to the mobile site but I land on the main site that is… well, not designed for mobile devices. Now, if I search for “BMW” in Google  (still using a mobile device) and click on the first results, it redirects me to… the web-based site, not the mobile one.  BMW is kind of assuming people would use the www.bmw.mobi URL.

Let’s take another one example - Audi (another premium brand). If I type www.audi.de or search for “audi” on Google Germany using a mobile device and if I click on the first result, I get redirected to the Audi mobile site. Hurray! Much better. But now, if I search for “audi a1”, the result I get points to the Audi A1 product page. Clicking this result gets me on... the main Web site, not the mobile one! Worse, I land on an error page telling me that pop-ups are blocked. Bummer!

So both BMW and Audi are certainly missing a significant part of traffic on their mobile site - traffic that lands on the web site instead. Not really an example of the most optimized user experience.

The Metric
You can easily evaluate if your mobile site is really getting the traffic it should get by measuring both your website and mobile site – ideally using same platform - and by having a global profile (web + mobile) and a dedicated profile for the mobile site.

Looking at the traffic from mobile devices in the former profile will give you your total traffic from mobile devices i.e. ideally the audience you want to see surfing on your mobile site. The dedicated profile will give you total traffic on the mobile site (for consistency, make sure to look at traffic from same list of mobile devices).

Using both, you can calculate an interesting metric that I call the Mobile site reach:

Mobile site reach = Mobile site traffic / Total traffic from mobile devices.

 It should be as close as possible to 100%. The resulting gap is a lost opportunity.  I think the gap should not exceed 5%-10%, depending on the size of your audience.

In our case it was higher than this limit - the mobile site reach ratio being quite below the 100% mark. The mobile site could hardly be considered a success if it was not reaching the intended audience. The business goal is to provide mobile users coming to our brand sites with the best online experience i.e. experience adapted to the support their use.

Note that in my perspective such metric deserves the title of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) as it relates to a clear business objective (reach mobile users), it is easy to understand and it is actionable (see further).

The cure
The finding triggered a reaction! Resources were invested in implementing a device detection mechanism together with clever redirection mechanism that ensures that both direct traffic or traffic from search engines and referring sites gets redirected to the most appropriate page

Note that we made sure that the redirection passes the original referrer in order to not loose the precious information. Otherwise it would mess up with key reports like referring sites, search engines and campaign reports.

The results
The result was immediate – the gap went below 5%, less than 2% in best cases. The trend graph looked like this (these are “dummy” results used for illustrative purpose):

In the end, the total traffic to the mobile site increased – additionally search engine traffic share significantly went up as product related search terms started driving traffic directly to the mobile pages.

The learning
This example illustrates that it doesn’t requires hours of data analysis to come up with “insights” and recommendations. One just needs to ask the right question in first place before diving in the numbers. In that case my question was: “is our mobile site reaching its audience?”. By looking at two metrics, I got my answer, found an issue and got it fixed.

The finding was backed-up with an explanation of the root cause (i.e. search traffic not redirected), facts (i.e. Web analytics data) and a proposal to solve the issue. The proposal was then discussed with the technical team that could come with a practical solution. Once the solution was rolled out, we measured the impacts of our change to validate our finding.

Analytics in action – that’s what I live for!

Now that we addressed the "reach" aspect, we can move on by looking how the mobile site perform in terms of engagement and conversion. But that's another story...

What do you think? Did you find this post interesting or useful? Or not at all? Please share your thoughts and remarks.

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  1. Good post - nice and easy.

    It's a problem we're also having: could you share what device detection mechanism you used? Or was it an in-house devellopment?


  2. This is good stuff Michael! The mobile reach metric looks useful. Would be great to know more about device detection techniques you used.

  3. @Stefaan and @VeeStep: thank both of you for the comment. Happy you appreciated the post. I think it is a core KPI to watch for.

    Now solving the issue isn't that straightforward I am afraid. I know our dev team spent quite some time on this one.

    I can't give too much details but it is a home-made solution, integrated in the CMS (as both the main site and mobile site are managed in the same CMS) and it requires some configurations for global rules & mapping, exceptions... but worth the effort.

    Cheers and wish you all the best for 2011.


  4. Mobile Analytics independently measure all mobile advertising and marketing campaigns to maximize your ROI. It analyze your applications from promotional campaigns to in-application usage. Thanks for sharing this valuable post.


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