Business owners and marketers have a tendency to fawn over the newest and brightest technology. Right now, mobile technology is bigger than the grand opening of the Pyramids of Giza. It's easy to see why everyone is taken with the potential of mobile marketing, but it's important to separate potential from reality. Recent internet marketing research suggests that while there are many places where mobile excels, there are many times where desktop is still the better option.
MarketLive released data from the fourth quarter of 2014 that showed how much customers spent and interacted with ecommerce sites on desktop, smartphones and tablets. The report showed there were a lot of sales on each type of device, but the data showed that mobile marketing has a long way to go to catch up to the total sales from desktop.
Here's one way to illustrate the divide between mobile and desktop. Desktop (and laptops) account for about 55 percent of the traffic to websites during the period analyzed in the MarketLive report. However, that 55 percent of traffic accounted for 75 percent of the revenue. This suggests that mobile is very good at bringing people to websites, but not as good at generating revenue online.
The researchers noted that one reason for this is that people are using mobile devices like smartphones to help them while shopping in store.
"Consumers are walking into brick-and-mortar stores with better product information and pricing research than the sales clerks working there. They are literally standing there in the store with their phone in their hands, researching information," said Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive Inc in a press release about the research. "The good news is they are in the store, ready to buy. And the smarter retailers have figured out how to capture these online sales by integrating mobile shopping with their in-store experiences, adapting their marketing programs to align with how shoppers browse on smartphones, and equipping their in-store sales clerks with the tools to find the inventory and complete the transaction."
An in-depth analysis of the data showed the differences between desktop, mobile and tablet sales and engagement. They reported that desktop and tablets are used in a similar way by consumers. For example, the average time on site for desktop is 4 minutes 38 seconds. For tablets, the average time is 4 minutes 34 seconds. But for mobile devices, it's just under 3 minutes. Similarly, the average order value for desktop and tablets is around $133 while the average order for mobile is $120.
For all the metrics that were measured, desktop and tablets performed similarly and outperformed mobile devices. This doesn't mean that business owners and marketers should abandon mobile marketing. Clearly, mobile marketing is reach consumers and driving them to action. Even if desktop solutions perform better at some tasks, it's unwise to ignore the significant and growing percentage of the population who are searching and shopping via mobile device.
However, this information can be used to create better mobile campaigns that cater to the wants of current mobile users. For example, the data showed that smartphone customers had the highest abandoned checkout rate. Marketers can use this information to create a mobile campaign that encourages customer to come and finish the order they previously started.
Similarly, tablets have an add-to-cart rate and average order amount that's almost as high as desktop. The percentage of traffic that comes from tablets is similar to the percentage of revenue that comes from tablets. So campaigns targeted toward tablets can be more geared to ecommerce.
The point is that when you know the strengths and weaknesses of the various forms of mobile marketing, it's easier to each platform to its maximum effectiveness. You can use a wrench to drive in a nail, but hammer is a far better tool for the job.
Another thing to keep in mind is that divide between mobile and desktop internet marketing is that the differences will shrink as marketers learn to use mobile effectively. There are a lot of things that website owners should do to improve the performance of their mobile ecommerce sites.
By keeping perspective on the divide between mobile and desktop, while working to bridge it, business owners can profit now and into the future. For more research on the power of mobile, read this article on how mobile technology is changes the consumer packaged goods market.