Few marketing landscapes have as much influence on website visitor behavior as mobile. Here, spontaneous and immediate demands for information are driving website design, marketing strategies, brand awareness and user engagement.
Nielsen reports that 71 percent of Americans own a smartphone; this increases to 85 percent for millennials. Thus, it's no surprise Search Engine Watch reported that Google's mobile visitors surpassed desktop visitors for the first time in late 2014. This means that if you want to extend your audience reach, understanding the differences between user engagement on websites accessed via mobile versus those accessed via desktop is key.
Search Engine Watch reports that desktop visits last three times longer on average than mobile visits, with more pages viewed and half the bounce rate. This is website mobile visitors want a rapid and smooth experience. When mobile users land on a page, they don't want to pinch and resize so they can read the content and find what they're looking for. Instead, they leave the site and head somewhere else with a better mobile experience.
Using responsive design, or Web pages that automatically adjust to fit the user's screen, is necessary to make content-rich sites accessible on mobile. Your overall design needs to adjust — for example, if your call-to-action is too small or your site is too slow to load, users will bounce. According to KISSmetrics, 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
Mobile users demand a mobile-friendly, responsive design to guarantee a smooth Internet experience. According to Search Engine Watch, entertainment website IFC.com — which adopted responsive design — found that 37 percent of its total traffic is mobile and that these visitors show a high level of engagement because of the ease of use.
To ensure an optimum mobile experience, more companies are developing and pushing their own apps to encourage user entry and to deliver the best user experience. For example, with the launch of Amazon's app, traffic and page views from desktop and mobile became almost equal, and the bounce rate is only slightly higher on mobile.
The New York Times, where 38 percent of traffic comes from mobile devices, found that mobile users spend less than two minutes on the mobile site, compared to 17 minutes on the desktop — indicating that mobile users scan rather than digest content. This is indicative of the way content needs to be presented to reach mobile customers.
Mobile traffic has grown rapidly to account for almost half of total website traffic. And website visitor behavior shows that mobile users, more so than desktop users, want rapid response, accurate and top-of-page search results, easy navigation and check-out, and speed.