Using Google Analytics to See If You Need a Mobile Website

Google Analytics and Mobile Websites

We get asked about mobile websites a lot.  And understandably so.  It seems like almost every day there’s another article on how the future of the web lies in mobile technology.  But designing a website that looks good on a mobile device is a pretty significant undertaking.

Luckily there are a few simple reports in Google Analytics that can help you figure out if developing a mobile website is a pressing need or more of a long-term consideration for your nonprofit.

Mobile Overview Report

The best place to start is with the Mobile Overview report.  It shows you a simple breakdown of mobile versus non-mobile traffic.  The key metrics to consider are:

  • Visits – How many visits are you getting?  Here you can see if you’re currently receiving a substantial amount of mobile traffic.
  • Pages/Visit – How many pages is the average visitor viewing?  The key here is to compare the mobile average against the non-mobile average.
  • Avg. Visit Duration – How long is the average visitor spending on your website?  This measurement is not an accurate reflection of true time on site (it underreports the true time since there’s no way for Google Analytics to measure the time spent on the last page of a visit).  But again you’re looking for a comparison between the two types of visitors.
  • Bounce Rate – How many visitors land on a page and leave without viewing any other pages?  This metric can be particularly telling when it comes to the need for a mobile website.

Finding the Mobile Overview Report

In order to find the Mobile Overview report, do the following:

  1. Click on “Audience” to open the submenu
  2. Click the dropdown arrow beside “Mobile”
  3. Click “Overview”

A Mobile Overview Report Example

Here’s an example of a Mobile Overview report:

Mobile Visitor Data Table

Key Takeaways:

  • Mobile traffic accounts for about 8.5% of website traffic, which while not huge is certainly substantial enough to consider.
  • The average mobile visitor is viewing fewer pages than a non-mobile visitor.  While the two aren’t vastly different, it’s noticeable.
  • The bounce rate is significantly higher for mobile traffic, which is leading to a much shorter average visit duration.

While there are a variety of other metrics to consider before deciding to undertake a mobile website, it’s clear that mobile visitors are not engaging with the website as thoroughly as non-mobile visitors.  But such a trend is to be expected to a certain extent.  Oftentimes, mobile visitors don’t engage with websites as much as visitors on a computer do.  But based on this data, it looks like a mobile website should at least be considered to help improve the experience of mobile users.

Advanced Segments: Mobile Traffic

Another particularly helpful tool in Google Analytics is Advanced Segments, which allows you to look at all reports using a subset of your website visitors.  In this instance, we’re interested in seeing how mobile visitors are interacting with our website.

Finding the Mobile Traffic Advanced Segment

To only look at the behavior of mobile visitors, do the following:

  1. Click the “Advanced Segments” button in the toolbar just below the date range
  2. Select “Mobile Traffic” in the Default Segments list
    Mobile Traffic Advanced Segment in Google Analytics
  3. Click the “Apply” button

Important Considerations with the Mobile Traffic Advanced Segment

Now that you’re looking only at mobile traffic, there are a few places I’d recommend you start to see how mobile users are using your site:

  • Conversion Rate – If you’ve set up website goals in Google Analytics (which you absolutely should if you haven’t already), look at the Goal Conversion Rate for mobile visitors.  This report will tell you if you’re successfully converting mobile visitors.  You can see this under Conversions >> Goals >> Overview.
  • Landing Pages – Determining which pages mobile visitors are landing on can help you figure out which pages need to be especially optimized for mobile.  You can see the Landing Pages report under Content >> Site Content >> Landing Pages.
  • Exit Pages – Seeing where current mobile visitors are leaving your website can show you which specific pages are not meeting the needs of your mobile visitors.  You can see the Exit Page report under Content >> Site Content >> Exit Pages.

While none of these reports alone will tell you whether you need a mobile website, a combination of reports can help you figure out if you’d likely reap the benefits of developing a mobile website.

Do you have a mobile website?  Or have you viewed a particularly awesome (or terrible) mobile website?  Let us know in the comments.

Related Reads

Using the Landing Pages Report in Google Analytics

How Fast is Your Website? Some Tools to Get Answers

Image courtesy of Johan Larsson, Flickr