Why your stagnant mobile performance isn’t a bad thing

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A huge focus in the digital world over the past several years has been mobile. If you have been optimising your mobile site, implementing mobile and cross-device tracking and creating mobile-only ad campaigns, you’ve been doing it right.

However, if you own an ecommerce website, operate a local business or franchise, or operate in the retail sector, chances are you may have been measuring mobile performance badly.

We are advised and taught by industry gurus and common sense to segment traffic and measure device performance separately. For example, if you run an accountancy firm and generate leads through both your desktop and mobile sites, it makes sense to measure the performance of them separately. After all, if you take average figures for the two sites, the results will be skewed, right? Wrong. Sort of. Let me explain.

Desktop vs mobile

Here is a graph showing how, in 2014, the number of mobile users surpassed the number of desktop users. So naturally you would expect mobile conversions to be surpassing desktop conversions by now.

Mobile vs Desktop Users

Here is a breakdown of the number of orders placed on US eCommerce sites in May 2015 vs May 2014, which says that, actually, this isn’t the case:

Conversions by device

As you can see, desktop orders dominate by a long way, despite the huge growth of mobile traffic.

The role of mobile

Your desktop and mobile websites and campaigns play different roles in your digital strategy, or at least, they should. Mobiles are not being used – contrary to common knowledge – as handheld replacements for PCs or laptops; in fact, they are being used mostly for research, which could explain why mobile conversions and conversion rates aren’t increasing.

When people use mobiles to search for products, services and stores, what they’re really doing is looking for information. They can then use this information to make their decision-making process shorter when they are in-store or ready to purchase on a desktop. Here are some ways that people use mobiles in different ways to make their purchases:

Online to offline image
Online Commerce image

What this means

If your customers are using mobiles to carry out research into products, before going onto their desktops and making a purchase, here is what your stats would look like:

Device Visits Conversions Conversion Rate
Mobile 1 0 0.00%
Desktop 1 1 100.00%


This is completely inaccurate and does not reflect the true value of the mobile visit. Because of this, you cannot measure mobile and desktop traffic in the same way and separately; you need to measure mobile traffic as part of the user journey and measure the value of your conversions against the overall user journey.

What you should do

Cross-device tracking

Your best option is set up cross-device tracking. This will enable you to assign goal values to mobile visits if the user has switched devices to complete their user journey and made a purchase.

Tracking micro-conversions

Instead of measuring mobile traffic vs desktop traffic, you should use different KPIs to measure the performance of your mobile campaigns. For example, you can use visibility and engagement metrics such as mobile impressions and clicks, analyse the user journey for mobiles, and look for micro-conversions such as clicking on “read more” links for product descriptions and “add to basket”.

Some other examples of micro-conversions are PDF downloads, long session durations, creation of accounts and email signups. Tracking these activities will give you a good insight into how your visitors use mobiles.

Need help?

If you need help setting up mobile and cross-device tracking, get in touch with us today. In the meantime, you might find these other mobile-related articles helpful:

Content in the mobile age: Long form or short form?

How to use context to improve your mobile search results

Why you should optimise your email campaigns for mobile

Jamie Hallitt profile picture
Jamie Hallitt

Jamie was a PPC Manager at Vertical Leap. Jamie was responsible for managing the Pay Per Click (PPC) team, from devising strategies to optimising campaigns.

More articles by Jamie
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