By Emma Searle

The average UK smartphone user checks their phone 221 times a day. That’s almost 13 times an hour!  So what does this mean for your Paid Search campaigns?

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Mobile Traffic

Over the last few years we have been closely monitoring the percentage of traffic our clients see from different devices; and last year something quite extraordinary happened. For the first time since mobile traffic has been recorded, computer traffic accounted for less than 50% of all clicks:

Table 1: % of Total Clicks Across Periscopix Clients

Mobile traffic: year on year volume change

Table 2: Year on Year Click % Change

Mobile traffic: year on year percentage change

In fact, since 2012 the volume of traffic through computers has dropped every year.  And whilst tablet traffic continues to increase (Table 2), we can see in Table 1 that it is mobile traffic that is really gaining share of voice at the expense of computers.

These figures have huge implications.  For years we have been hearing about the rise of mobile and the ‘year of mobile’, but now we can really see this happening in our own data.  For Periscopix, 2015 really was the year of mobile (at least so far…).

Percentage of traffic by device 2009-2015

Mobile Commerce

The figures above, whilst exciting for marketers, may actually be a cause for concern for some businesses.  Conversion rates have always been much higher on computers than any other device.  Looking at our own figures, the conversion rate for computers in 2015 was over 130% greater than mobiles and more than 60% higher than tablets.  Are we at risk then of losing conversions as fewer and fewer people click on ads on their computers?

Well, yes and no.  Conversion rates will potentially fall but overall conversions will not be affected.  This is because, whilst customers may spend more time researching on their mobiles and then again on a computer (increasing overall clicks and impressions), they will still make their final purchase. 

The other side effect may be inflated conversion rates on computers.  Although customers are starting to make more conversions on their mobile devices (mobile conversion rate increased 88% in 2015), a lot still have fears about security or find the process simply too difficult on some websites.  It is therefore logical that, as more people research on their mobile devices but ultimately purchase on their computers, computer conversion rates will rise.  

One way to make sure you have a true understanding of how your customers are using their mobiles in relation to Paid Search is to use cross-device conversion estimates.  Introduced by Google in October 2013, cross-device conversions allow you to see an estimation of how many people started their journey on one device and converted on another (with 95% accuracy).  These figures are really important in understanding the true value of different devices and are as simple to set up as adding a column to your AdWords interface.

Making Mobile Count

With more customers reaching for their mobile phone to research a new purchase, it's important to make sure you remove as much friction from their experience as you can.  It’s also important to understand how your customers use their mobile phones. 

The average time spent using a mobile phone in one session is 24.4 seconds.  Take a moment and think about that.  How far could someone get through your (or your clients) website in 24 seconds?  Which page would they land one?  Would they get the information they need on that page?  This is what Google refer to as ‘mobile moments’ and they’re really important to think about when considering your mobile strategy.

Page Load Speed

There are two crucial factors to think about when optimising for mobile moments.  The first is page load time.  Customers are looking for quick information when on their phones and if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, chances are they’re going to bounce.  But this isn’t only about getting traffic to your site.  The quicker your pages load, the easier it is for customers to navigate through your site.  In a recent test, a leading online retailer found that for every 100ms they shaved off their page load time, average revenue increased by 1%:

Effect of page load time on conversion rate

Easy Navigation

The second thing you can do to improve the user experience for mobile moments is to ensure your site navigation is simple and intuitive.  One quick test I always run on a client's site if mobile performance is poor is to see how many steps it takes me to get to a product page after landing directly on the home page.  Lets use two top UK retailers as our examples:

Tesco Direct

Tesco Direct mobile site usability

TK Maxx

TK Maxx mobile site usability

In both cases it takes a number of clicks before I see any products but the nice thing about the TK Maxx website is the ‘Refine By’ drop down menu.  On the Tesco Direct site, on page 5 I’ve highlighted were it tells me there are 16 products on this page, but these are all below the fold and not immediately obvious to a consumer browsing through.  Had the extra filters been hidden rather than dominating the prime above-fold real-estate, it would have been much easier to spot those products and could have avoided my disappointment of clicking through further only to find all products in the next category were out of stock (something else that should be removed from a mobile site).


Mobile devices are now firmly routed as an integral part of our everyday lives.  As discussed in my previous blog, with more and more Millennials entering the consumer market each year, mobile commerce will continue to grow. 

I’ve touched momentarily on some of the things you can do to improve the mobile experience for your customers in this blog but the main point is to make sure you understand mobile as its own channel and develop a strategy that works for your customers.  Review your data and understand how they use their mobile phones when shopping for your products/service as there is no one size fits all strategy.

If you would like further details on how you could improve your customers' mobile experience, why not get in touch and ask to speak to our Paid Search or CRO experts. 

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