Top metrics for measuring mobile Web usability
By Chantal Tode
April 3, 2013
While gains have been made in the past year when it comes to tracking metrics for mobile sites, marketers still face many challenges including measuring cross-channel use and device fragmentation.
Marketers are still trying to figure out which metrics will identify room for improvement for mobile sites. As mobile adoption grows and key behaviors such as search, social networking and shopping migrate to smartphones and tablets, it is important to start somewhere in order to begin to improve the mobile Web experience.
“In May of 2012, eMarketer published a report that showed 63 percent of marketers have no mobile measurement in place at all,” said Benjamin Diggles, director of digital marketing at Webtrends, Portland, OR. “Since then, the pendulum has started to swing the other way, showing that more marketers are taking measurement seriously, however they are still facing many challenges.
“The biggest issue that marketers face is measuring with the cross-channel in mind,” he said. “Since the mobile experience involves so many different elements such as geolocation, SMS, social, apps and mobile-optimized sites, it is hard to define a measurement strategy that can mature.
“My advice is always to start small and focus on one or two things that you can get really comfortable with, and then add on other elements and channels as you go.”
One reason why marketers are challenged when it comes to measuring mobile Web behavior is that many still do not have mobile-optimized sites, either because of budget constraints or because the decision has not yet been made about whether to invest in a mobile site or go the route of responsive design.
Also, marketers forget to tag their mobile-optimized site separately so their reports all roll up under their main Web site metrics, per Mr. Diggles.
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing marketers is how fast mobile is accelerating, meaning that by the time a marketer gains a foothold on a measurement strategy, the best performing customers may have already moved onto a new environment requiring a different approach.
Per Mr. Diggles, marketers should focus on several key questions about their mobile users and find the best metrics to answer these.
In terms of how consumers are finding and using a brand’s mobile properties, marketers should look at downloads, total users, active users rate and new versus returning users.
Marketers should also consider how engaged and loyal mobile users are, taking a look at visit and session frequency, depth and duration as well as bounce rates.
It is also important to determine if mobile users are engaging in high value activities by reviewing user characteristics and segments as well as key user activities.
In order to come up with ways to retain users and encourage usage, marketers should consider stickiness, feature usage, traffic drivers and user feedback.
Fragmentation is a key challenge in measuring mobile Web metrics as marketers are not sure how to segment out traffic properly between form factors. If traffic is not properly segmented, this can result in overlapped and skewed data.
Joey Rahimi, co-founder and chief information officer at Branding Brand, Pittsburgh, PA, recommends giving each form factor its own goals and benchmarks. This means placing smartphones in one bucket, small tablets – 8 inches and below - in another and large tablets such as the iPad in another.
From here, marketers can establish a conversion and average order value ratio for each form factor. These should be monitored weekly to help optimize the experience for each.
Marketers should also analyze visits as a percentage of total traffic to identify where mobile is going in terms of visits and market share as a way to help determine future budgets.
Another helpful metric for determining budgets is mobile revenue as a percentage of total revenue.
Other key metrics to keep in mind are mobile conversion compared to the desktop site, which should be at least 20 percent, per Mr. Rahimi. The mobile average order value compared to the desktop site should be at least 84 percent.
“Because mobile is so new, every retailer needs to understand what the best experience is for their user,” Mr. Rahimi said. “Comparing metrics to the desktop site provides retailers with an aspirational benchmark.”
Getting to the point where it is possible to attribute mobile sales and revenues is the Holy Grail when it comes to mobile Web metrics.
However, many companies either do not have the necessary customer relationship management software in place or, if they do, have it integrated with their analytics to make mobile attribution happen.
Additionally, many marketers still may not understand the important role that mobile Web is playing in how customers interact with a brand’s products or services.
“A lot of people consider their product or service is something that people will never search for on a mobile device, but they have to keep in mind that mobile doesn’t necessarily mean that they are on the go,” said Scott Benson, senior SEO manager at Vocus, Beltsville, MD. “Seventy percent of mobile search is happening in the house.
“So it doesn’t really matter what the product is, it is how your audience or customers are finding you,” he said. “Most companies stop at the top of the funnel, measuring mobile trends, visits and bounce rates.
“This means they are not able to put a dollar figure on their mobile marketing efforts. They should be able to put a dollar figure on their Twitter mobile visitors and how that converts down the line into sales.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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