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The changing face of mobile traffic

Welcome to the second order impacts of mobile

We’ve been living mobile first for years now, but there’s a new milestone to mark.

For the first time, mobile paid sources deliver as much traffic as all of desktop.

But, the jelly donut rule applies - it’s what’s inside that counts.

With all that mobile traffic, we more clearly see the mobile skew:

  1. The majority of mobile visitors are new-to-you (55%)

  2. Mobile traffic is far more likely than desktop to be paid (36% v. 21%)

A short history of mobile’s rise:

The first mobile movement (browser-based) commerce coincided with smarter, faster, and larger phones, like the iPhone, and generally came into vogue between 2010-2015. This period was focused on optimizing site rendering. It was tactical and geared towards usability and UI. Hamburger menus. Avoiding pinch and zooms. Responsive design!

More recently, mobile payments helped accelerate mobile shopping (Apple Pay launched in late 2014), and even the mobile doubters had to acknowledge that the small screen carried an outsized impact. Mobile traffic breached 50%. Mobile shopping moved from an edge-case to a core behavior.

With the shopping infrastructure in place - trusted devices, fast connections, friction-less payment - mobile-first is now about ‘who’.

The mobile site needs to be best at welcoming new visitors. Buyability tools - including finders and fit tools - are likely to be more useful on mobile because that visitor needs guidance.

And, not to be lost, with more than a third of shopper traffic from paid sources, the mobile visit is actually higher leverage than on desktop. A bounce on mobile is more costly than one on desktop. And, with conversion rates on mobile about half of desktop, effective acquisition costs are higher.

Don’t forget, too: even if cost per click rates remain flat, a higher share of mobile traffic means a higher concentration of paid (social traffic, for instance is nearly exclusively mobile). The real cost of acquisition is ticking up.

Five fast facts:

  1. Mobile drives nearly 3 in 4 visits.

  2. New visitors account for 55% of mobile traffic, 49% on desktop.

  3. More than 1 in 3 (36%) mobile visits are paid v. 21% on desktop.

  4. Paid mobile accounts for as much traffic as desktop: 26.6%

  5. Mobile accounts for 76% of new visitors across retail sites.

The takeaway here is simple: the face of the mobile shopper is different than that of desktop. More new. More (likely to be) paid. Brands and retailers need to anticipate the differences, and segment the mobile experience to make the most of every visit, and avoid runaway acquisition costs.

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