Analysing mobile traffic in Google Analytics

One of the hottest topics in multi-channel retailing over the past 12 months has been the growth in mobile commerce. As sales of smartphones continue to rise, so too does the percentage of people browsing the Internet through their mobile device and indeed purchasing products.

My role at Leapfrogg involves delving in and out of Google Analytics on a daily basis. One of the best segments in Analytics is the mobile traffic segment, which can provide you with extremely interesting insights.

Google Analytics now has a default segment for mobile visitors under ‘Visitors > Mobile > Mobile Devices’. You should be able to see a trend of traffic from mobile devices, rather like below:

The screenshot above is a comparison in mobile traffic from January 2011 to January 2010 for one of our clients. The number of visits from mobile devices has increased by 558% in just one year, indicating the pace at which this sector is growing.

From this screen, you can also find out answers to the following questions, all of which can help to formulate your mobile strategy:

  • What percentage of your overall traffic is from mobile? How has this figure grown in the past few months?
  • What operating system have they come from, i.e. iPad, iPhone, Android or Blackberry?
  • If you have goals set up, what actions are mobile visitors performing on your site? Are conversion rates higher or lower from mobile users than other traffic sources?
  • If e-commerce data is set up, how much revenue have you obtained from mobile? How does this stack up against other traffic sources?

If you are finding a high proportion of traffic is coming via mobile but conversion rates and revenue are low, you may want to think about advertising to these users with specific mobile-only paid search campaigns. Another way of improving conversion rates would be to invest in a mobile optimised site, something which a lot of big brands have put time and effort into this year.

Alternatively, if you receive a high proportion of traffic from a particular operator, (i.e. iPhones), you may already have a market for your target audience in which you could develop a mobile app. There are pros and cons for developing apps as oppose to optimising your site for mobile users, the subject of a blog post at a later date…

Hopefully this will give you an idea so you can at least start to think about a mobile strategy for your business. How has your mobile traffic grown in the past year?

2 Responses to Analysing mobile traffic in Google Analytics

  1. Hi Dan,

    We are finding the same problem with our clients accounts in the new Google Analytics. You shouldn’t need any extra code as this is a default segment which is provided by Google.

    There are a few articles in the Google Analytics help forum where others are having the same problem so it appears to be a bug with the new version of GA. Google are usually quite quick at fixing these but I would recommend switching back to the old version of GA for the time being. Apply the segment in there and you should be able to see some mobile traffic data.


  2. Hi Andy. Our mobile traffic segment shows zero traffic, although if I go to Technology > Mobile, I can see that we have a fair bit of mobile traffic. Do you know if there’s extra code required for this segment?

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