Understanding Mobile Users: Characteristics, Habits & Behavior on Mobile Web

This article is originally from instantshift.com. InstantShift is leading design and inspiration related community for web designers and developers daily resource, inspiration and premium web design and development. About the author: Kavin Paulson is a Tech Enthusiast, Blogger and a Digital Marketing Associate at Technousa – a world class offshore IT Consulting & Software Development Company. Image courtesy of Maridav via Bigstockphoto.

‘The world is going mobile’ is an outdated phrase, it’s a mobile world. When mobile searches surpass desktop searches at Google and when Google is all set to go ‘mobile first’ by creating a separate mobile index – you are assured that it’s truly a mobile world.

According to Smart Insights, 80% of Internet users own a Smartphone and 51% of the time spent with digital media in a day on mobile ( close to 3 hours ), more than the time spent on Desktop ( 42%). Though businesses understand the importance of going mobile and also have already made their presence, many businesses, due to lack of proper understanding of mobile users’ behavior and their needs, fail to properly fine-tune their mobile strategy, which results in no or partial success in tapping the potential of their mobile audience.

If you want to fully tap the potential of the mobile web, you should understand the mobile users in-depth, specifically, your mobile audience – this article is a quick guide and will be a good start to the process of understanding mobile user behavior, habits and characteristics – rest of the things you learn through experience and experiments which will be highly relevant to your business case scenario.

1. Mobile users are Quick and Impatient

According to Search Engine Watch’s Report, on average, desktop visits last three times longer than mobile visits and desktop visitor views more pages and thus bounce rate is comparatively lower.

Mobile users expect a seamless and smooth experience while visiting and navigating through a website or app. Readability and right placement of your important content and calls to action is highly important as they scan through the pages quickly. They don’t take much efforts looking for the required information – make sure that they quickly notice the most important information right after they land and drive them from there to take more actions. Keep it Short and Effective (KISE).

Speed of your website/app matters a lot – According to KISSmetrics, 40% people abandon a website that fails to load in 3 seconds.

2. Mobile Users Take Minimum Efforts to Understand your Interface

This applies to both mobile and desktop users – user interface should always be user-friendly. But when it comes to mobile users, you need to take extra care and ensure that the interface design is de-cluttered and clean.

Clarity of layout and visibility of interactive elements is very important given the size of the mobile screens. Your mobile users don’t take efforts to figure out how your interface works – everything should be understandable in the first glance itself. Also make sure that the calls to action and other interactive elements are large enough to avoid misclicking – which is again a bad user experience.

3. Mobile Users engage more on Apps than Mobile site

According to Smart Insights, 89% of the media time of mobile users is spent on Apps Vs. 11% on mobile sites. Thus it makes sense to launch an app for your business to give your mobile audience a great user experience even if you have a mobile-friendly website, which you should have anyway. This can be validated by the fact that more and more businesses are coming up with innovative apps, promoting them aggressively and creatively engaging their mobile audience.

4. Changing Trend: Mobile users shop on Mobile

It is often said that considerable number of users do research on mobile but go to desktop to make payments – true but the trend has been changing rapidly. With mobile commerce growing significantly, ecommerce sales through mobile shopping have been increasing considerably – it was $8 billion in 2012 in US. According to ComScore Inc., ecommerce Sales from mobile more than doubled between 2013 and 2015. If you have payment gateway integrated to your site – do consider providing/integrating popular mobile payment options too.

5. Mobile Users Love Coupons

According Statista, the number of mobile coupon users has been increasing steadily since 2012 in the United States and the number is projected to reach 104+ million in 2016. Offering coupons is a great way to increase user engagement on your website or app as consumers generally love to avail discounts and special offers.

6. Mobile users tend to share stuff frequently compared to Desktop users

Since mobile is handy and carried everywhere, mobile users stay connected with their friends and acquaintances all the time on various platforms and they do share updates about their lives and thoughts frequently. Mobile users tend to share or endorse brands, apps or products they love or use more than desktop users – brands have a great opportunity like never before to engage their mobile users creatively and leverage their tendency to share stuff they love.

7. Mobile Internet Users are Majorly Young

Comparatively, majority of the mobile internet users are young between the age groups of 13-17, 18-34, 35-44. According to eMarketer, 84% of 13-17 year old people own a mobile phone. Exceptions apart, all aspects of your mobile marketing campaigns should take young audience into consideration.

8. Mobile Users are Highly Active during Mornings and Evenings

According to a study conducted at Microsoft by Financial Times, mobile users are highly active during 6 am to 9 am in the mornings and during 6 pm to 11 pm in the evenings. This is a very important piece of information for businesses that run mobile marketing campaigns.

9. Mobile is used for quick searches

Mobile users tend to use mobiles for quick searches looking for specific information but when it comes to time consuming research, they switch to desktop. This fact validates the point that right information should be presented to mobile users in an easily understandable and clear manner.

10. Pre-purchase Research on Mobile has higher chance of conversions

This is obvious because many people search and find information about a product, service or businesses on the go or while they are near or around the location of the business. Pre-sales research is also done while the users are inside the business location. According to a research conducted by Nielsen, Telmetrics and xAd, 30% of Smartphone users and 25% of tablet users convert within an hour after pre-sales research.

11. Majority of the Mobile Internet Users Check Emails on Mobile

According to Salesforce’s Mobile Behavior Survey Report 2014, majority of the respondents said they checked their emails atleast once in a day on their Smartphones. Other major activities include text messaging, browsing, social networking, watching videos or movies, consuming news, listening to music, playing games, reading and getting directions.

Email marketing seems to make more sense now as users take a close look at emails on their handy mobiles. Attractive marketing and relevant emails with great offers have higher chances of conversions.

12. Mobile users Prefer to Type Less

Mobile users prefer tap, swipe or gesture over typing. Give them less opportunity to type – social logins, prefilled data, swipe, tap or double tap, press and tap are some of the options available to reduce the need for typing. Always remember to keep the interactive elements simple and self-explanatory.

13. Considerable Number of Mobile Internet Users Do Allow Location Sharing and Push Notifications

According to Salesforce’s Mobile Behavior Survey Report 2014, 53% of Smartphone users allow location sharing while using an App and 76% of the people who use location sharing say that the feature helps them to receive meaningful and relevant content. So, it makes sense for mobile sites and apps to have GPS enabled location tracking feature which, with users’ permission, would track users’ location and deliver relevant and personalized content.

Push notification is also allowed (50%) by considerable number of people as per the survey and many also find the feature useful (80%).

14. Brand Trust Matters to Mobile Users

Mobile users tend to use apps of brands they trust and they are also happy to allow location tracking when it comes to trusted brands. Trust is built through consistency, usefulness and value addition.

15. Considerable Number of Mobile Users are Skeptical about Making Online Payments via Mobile

If you collect payments through your website, make sure to provide your potential customers the best possible secured payment system and also ensure that your customers know that your payment system is secured and safe. Adding texts and badges that assure customers that payment done through your payment gateway is safe and secure makes a positive difference in conversion rate.

16. Majority of the Mobile Users Use Search Engines for Research

According to Smartinsights, 48% of mobile users do research with a search engine, 33% with a branded website and 26% with a branded app. This highlights the importance of mobile SEO – your business needs to have a good search presence.

17. Mobile users are Highly Active on Pinterest too

According to Mobile Marketing Watch, Pinterest is the most mobile social network, the site attracts 64% of its referral traffic from SmartPhones/Tablet devices. Pinterest is not very relevant to B2B businesses (exceptions apart), if yours is a B2C business, you should have a strong presence on Pinterest.

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