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For almost 10 years now, we have all heard “This is the year for mobile!”…REALLY?!?

We see posts on all over Twitter about the growth in mobile use and web traffic. Ironically, most are coming from people using a desktop.

So, as we always do, we decided to gather the data, set up the experiment and test it!

First, we had to define “What is a mobile device?” This is a real problem because too many people want to define a tablet as a mobile device. In my opinion, it’s not. We needed something more than my “opinion”, however, so we looked to Google.

The Google Adwords platform now combines tablet and desktop use as the same thing.

“The device doesn’t matter as much as the user context does”, said Google’s Group Product Manager Surojit Chatterjee on context, “User context drives what people search for, and the actions they take. So for example, say I am at home in the evening, and I’m doing a search. The actions that I will take will be largely the same if I’m using a smartphone, tablet or notebook, because the context is the same. Particularly between notebook and tablet, the query patterns are very similar.”

There you have it. A tablet is more like a desktop to a user than a mobile device is. A tablet is not a mobile device!


First, we started with the data. Here are the facts:

• Less than 12% of all retail automotive website traffic is from a mobile device. – (Source: OnlineDrive user base)

• In 2013, mobile traffic rose to 15% of all search traffic and tablet traffic made up another 15%. When you hear that mobile traffic is 30% of all web traffic, keep in mind that true mobile traffic is only 15%. The greatest increase in mobile traffic has come from defining a tablet as a mobile device. – (Source: ShopVisible)

• While mobile traffic rose, TRUE mobile conversion was the lowest of all of the devices at .05%. Traffic from tablets came in a 1.6% and desktop traffic came in at 2.5%. - (Source: ShopVisible)


This data would seem to support the notion that context does trump device.


Next, we looked at user intent. Here are the facts:

• 91% of mobile phone users go online to socialize. – (Source: Ruder Finn)

• 1 in 8 users compare prices on their phone while shopping. – (Source: comScore) When you do the math, that is 12.5% OF 15% of all web traffic. In addition, less that .05% of those shoppers said they would leave the dealership they are at to go to another store. – (Source: OnlineDrive Marketing Mix Study)

• 70% of all mobile searches result in an action within 1 hour, yet the average auto shopper take 59 days to make a decision. – (Source: Mobile Marketer and OnlineDrive Marketing Mix Study)

• The average mobile user spends 25 minutes per day checking email. – (Source: Return Path) That IS NOT mobile marketing.

These facts would support that very little auto shopping or influence is gained from mobile. Auto shopping and research is not the user’s intent when they get on their mobile device.

So here was the question that needed we sought to answer:

“Which device will produce the highest conversion rate: mobile, tablet or desktop?

We set up an experiment with 20 of our accounts. We set up a control group of 5 accounts and tracked conversion over 380,000 in-market visitors on our platform in a responsive-design format.

Our hypothesis (and really most people’s hypothesis) is that a responsive design would reduce friction on a page and help increase conversion. In this case, you would be correct. There are many other factors, however, that affect conversion: the two largest factors being the context of the search & the intent of the visitor.

Here were the results.


There was a 61% lift in conversion in aggregate over the control group from mobile and using responsive design.

HOWEVER, when we individually examined results by device, here is what we found:

• Desktop – We had to change the desktop design slightly to meet the responsive design requirements. The result of that change: + 111% relative increase in conversion!
I am sure at this point you are starting to realize that one of the other two device types OR both had a significant negative result on the conversion rate.

• Tablet – + 31% relative increase over the control group. Basically, no statistically significant difference.

• Mobile – -17.7% relative DECREASE over the control group. Again, no statistically significant difference.

Based on both the behavioral data and test data, here is the bottom line. After reducing friction using responsive design and even making the user experience better, we could not change the visitor’s context or intent. Those drive conversion far more than design.

In the end, mobile customers are NOT in the mindset to convert. They are not in a true influential research mode where your marketing will have a significant impact on their buying decision – whether that decision is to buy or simply who to buy from.


So what is mobile good for?

1. On average, it takes 26 hours for a person to report a lost wallet and 68 minutes to report a lost phone. – (Source: Unisys) Have a VALUABLE mobile app for your store. Allow for mobile service scheduling BUT (most importantly) use it to monitor service wait times throughout the day.

2. It takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email and 90 seconds to respond to a SMS text message. Make sure both your Marketing Automation System and CRM has SMS text capabilities.

3. The iPhone 5 and later versions give the user the ability to block ad tracking and SMS ads that they consider intrusive. If you are using SMS, make sure your message is relevant.

4. Over 40% of clicks on mobile ads are fraudulent or accidental and conversion rates are the lowest by far of all devices. Make it easy for mobile users to contact you and integrate easy to use maps to help them find your store. Those are the top interactions between businesses and mobile devices.

As always we hope this helps and enjoy your feedback.


Other great related posts:

Why you don’t need a website provider

Marketing Automation… The Future Of Marketing

Time Is The Fire In Which Leads Burn

Views: 491

Tags: Google, analytics, consumers, conversion, device, intent, marketing, mobile, research, responsive, More…search, statistics, tablet, traffic, website


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Comment by Ed Brooks on August 13, 2014 at 2:47pm

Once again my friend Larry Bruce has chosen to cherry-pick and misuse great data that he has “borrowed” from others. He is living proof of the adage, “You don’t give dynamite to monkeys”.

Let’s look at the ShopVisable data first. While Larry didn’t link to the data, I will.

This study isn’t looking at how people research high dollar purchases, it’s about transactional ecommerce – how people buy stuff online. The example given in the study is $10 DVDs vs $1,000 beds. Both examples are a far cry from researching a vehicle purchase.

So it becomes clear, this study doesn’t state “In 2013, mobile traffic rose to 15% of all search traffic and tablet traffic made up another 15%” like Larry contends. It is looking only at ecommerce transactional site traffic.

Larry then delves into conversion rates. He disparages the low conversion of mobile. Now remember the study is about transactional ecommerce. The definition of a conversion given in the study is number of orders / number of visits. Automotive isn’t transactional online (not yet anyway). So by the definition used in the study, whether desktop or mobile, the conversion rate will be virtually zero.

Other take-aways from ShopVisable; “Smartphone users have come to expect sites to be optimized for their screen size.”, “…mobile users are looking for an easy experience when visiting a site from their device…”, and “(mobile users) are increasingly browsing from these devices.”

The data from Ruder Finn has been even more mangled.  Larry starts off stating “91% of mobile phone users go online to socialize”. So does Larry think this is at the exclusion of everything else? Socializing is the ONLY activity? If Larry read more of the Ruder Finn study, he would have come across this, "The mobile phone is becoming the most powerful online device, and the faster businesses can adapt their services to harness consumer mobile intent, the more rapidly they can capitalize on understanding their customers to drive growth." -- Kathy Bloomgarden, Ruder Finn co-CEO

Larry reached all the way back to 2011 to grab the Comscore data! I’m sure he spent some time cherry-picking the exact right data to help him make a point. It would have been very easy to grab more recent data from Comscore – like “Time Spent Shopping Shifts From PC To Mobile” from 2013 – but that would disprove his point.

The underlying thread that ties all this together is, right now, today, the automotive space isn’t about ecommerce – no one is buying cars online that is making the transaction online. It IS about ROPO (research online, purchase offline).  So “conversion rates” aren’t the main course, they are they are the Brussels sprouts.

As usual, Larry uses data “much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”

Comment by Larry Bruce on August 13, 2014 at 2:04pm

Why wouldn't I Ed? None of it has changed. Ed you choose to see proliferation of use as a reason to market to someone in a particular channel nothing could be further from the truth. The reason why Mobile conversion is so low is that the context and intent of the user is not a decision its to get quick info while on the go or to validate a decision already made. Either of those places are not ideal for marketing and there are far better places for a dealer to put their marketing dollar. 

Ed whether you like it or not a dealer must focus their $$ where they can drive leads. The digital lot doesn't have the same benefits the physical one has...

"You can't just walk up to the online customer and say "Hi welcome to ABC Motors, my name is Larry Bruce and you are?"

Then work contact information into the conversation so you can follow up. Online you HAVE TO GET THE CUSTOMER TO REACH OUT TO YOU! 

While mobile shopping customers are just not in that mode and every bit of the data in this post proves that. 

Like so many Ed you are making this an either / or proposition and that is not what I have been saying. Just saying its the last place you put marketing budget. 

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 13, 2014 at 11:18am

Do still stand by your third party data, Larry?

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 10, 2014 at 7:13pm

My current phone is an HTC One (M8) - it's the best phone I've ever owned. By a long shot.

And yes mobile presents challenges - but we face challenges every day ;-) 

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 10, 2014 at 4:07pm
I'm currently commenting on my Android phone, but I do have an iPad as well. As advertisers, it's our job to make sure our content is able to be read AND interacted with on all platforms.

Comment by Larry Bruce on August 10, 2014 at 1:54pm

Ha! Ok Ed looking forward to it. 

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 10, 2014 at 12:31pm

EVERY single one of your outside data points is misinterpreted or misused. Sorry bud, that's a fact. You'll have to wait until the Wednesday #AutoMarketing tweet chat for the discussion on why... 

Comment by Larry Bruce on August 10, 2014 at 11:57am

Thanks for pointing it out Ed. Always good to have a 3rd pair of eyes on the spelling. Was really hoping you would educate us why the data is off point though. 

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 10, 2014 at 9:59am

Glad you fixed the "ShooVisable" typo, Larry.

Comment by Larry Bruce on August 5, 2014 at 2:30pm

Thanks Kevin, we intend to have this data along with a lot of other intriguing data at my session during Digital Dealer 17.  

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