How to tell if you need a mobile strategy right now in 3 steps

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

2011 is being promoted as the year of mobile, when mobile devices eclipse the desktop, when the iPad 2 and the Android tablets dominate computing, and various other bits of hype. But how much should mobile matter to you and your business? Unquestionably, you should have a mobile strategy, in the sense that you should have mechanisms in place to serve up content targeted at the mobile audience. How do you know what to measure, though, in order to determine how pressing a need this is? Let’s take a quick look at a few important data points.

Every installation of Google Analytics has a custom traffic segment called mobile traffic. Log in, go to your Analytics account, and turn on this segment in the upper right hand corner.

Dashboard - Google Analytics

Now browse to your visitors tab. What percentage of your traffic is mobile?

  • If it’s higher than 1%, you need to start thinking about a mobile strategy.
  • If it’s higher than 10%, you need to be turning your mobile strategy on.
  • If it’s higher than 25% and your mobile strategy isn’t in full swing, you are losing business to people who don’t want to navigate a mobile unfriendly site.

In this case below, almost 10% of my site traffic is mobile. Luckily, I’ve got at least some mobile-optimized content up:

Visitors Overview - Google Analytics

Let’s take a look at two other data points worth noting. Look at your new vs. returning visitors. What percentage of each is mobile traffic? If your returning visitors (fans and customers) are using mobile in any serious way, then you’re annoying them by not offering up mobile options. If your new visitors are coming from mobile traffic, then you’re turning away business and you don’t even know it.

New vs. Returning - Google Analytics

The last area worth noting is traffic sources. Pay special attention to how much search traffic is coming in by mobile device. There is a very good chance if you are a brick and mortar location that an increasing amount of your traffic is coming via search from a mobile device because people are trying to find your business while actually nearby. Make absolutely sure that your mobile content display gives the items that mobile, location-aware searchers are looking for: where you are, how to get there, and who to call.

Traffic Sources Overview - Google Analytics

If you’re not getting any mobile traffic at, that raises two questions: why not? and what should you be doing about it? As more and more web traffic migrates to mobile devices, you should see an increase over time in the amount of mobile traffic that you see on your sites. If you see none, that means you’ve likely done zero optimization for mobile and local search. At a bare minimum, register your site with Google Places, and consider at least starting a free account (plus profile data) on Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, and any other services that heavily promote mobile usage.

Mobile isn’t just a trend in marketing – it’s rapidly becoming one of the most dominant trends. Use these tips to diagnose where you are and where to head next.

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5 responses to “How to tell if you need a mobile strategy right now in 3 steps”

  1. Terithompson Avatar

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the post about mobile strategy. It got me thinking in this direction AGAIN!

  2. Todd Schnick Avatar
    Todd Schnick

    Any good recommendations as to what WordPress plug-ins to use to optimize a WP site for mobile? I’ve heard about WP Touch. Are there others?

    1. I use WP Touch and recommend it. My analytics are slightly lower that Christopher’s but scaled about the same.

  3. […] you are not sure this makes sense, check out Christopher Penn’s post on gauging mobile traffic via Google Analytics. The data may surprise […]

  4. Hey Chris… I know this is an old post (and not sure if you’ll even check this) but wondering if you’re still of the mindset that the 1%/10%/25% metrics suggested in this post. I’ve been watching client Analytics numbers and most everyone we’ve looked at are in the 12%+ range. If you’ve got time, would love your thoughts!

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