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How Many Mobile Only Users Exist and What Does This Mean?

Posted by Sheera Eby on April 22, 2014

When I first heard about the “mobile only user,” I was shocked to learn that 25% of Americans fell into this category.1 The “mobile only user” is a quickly growing segment. The mobile only user is defined as those who either don’t use computers at all, or are an infrequent user, using a computer less than once a month.

The mobile only segment and mobile only access appear to be a growing trend in web browsing and web transactions. Surprising to some, eMarketer reports that 14% of Google's sites were accessed exclusively via mobile. According to eMarketer, Google further reports that they’ve seen an increase of 16% in mobile traffic in 12 months.2



Who is the mobile only user?
While the mobile only segment is still in its infancy of being studied, it appears that there are likely at least two different sub-segments of mobile only users.

The first group can be considered the selective mobile only user. This group actively prefers using their mobile device to browse the web. Selective mobile users may be browsing the web for fun; a significant amount of traffic will be on social sites and entertainment media. This segment has chosen a preference in accessing the web via a mobile device. Outside the U.S., this segment has been defined as students and other middle- to upper-class younger demographics who prefer mobile devices for ease of access.


The second group is likely to be a by-product of economics. This group may be forced to use their mobile device, and therefore less of a preference. According to the Harvard Business Review, these individuals may either not have access to a PC or they share that device with other members of the family, so they find it easier (and more private) to do their mobile browsing from a smartphone device.3



Targeting the mobile only user for conversion.
The platform a user is browsing might have a direct impact on their ability to convert. The following facts reflect total mobile browsing and conversions, not mobile-only surfing. Tablet surfing results in higher conversion rates than surfing on traditional desktop PCs. It is worth noting, however, that computer browsing still yields much higher conversion rates than mobile phones. One theory why conversion rates may be higher on PCs is that tablets are more often used by who that have no other options, whereas mobile phones may be used for general browsing, followed by computer access to complete transactions.



Considerations for marketing to the mobile only user.
Marketers must keep both accessibility and conversion in mind when targeting the mobile only user. Responsive design and ensuring emails and landing pages are mobile optimized are core expectations. The mobile only user has some unique behavioral characteristics that marketers need to recognize. Here are three considerations.


1. Mobile only users value mobile channels more than the average.
It would be inappropriate to make an argument that mobile only users don’t engage with non-mobile channels. It is a reasonable hypothesis, however, to assume mobile only users do value mobile channels more than the average consumer. Marketers are forced to consider the value of building an SMS database, ensuring search engine marketing programs address mobile and ensuring landing pages, emails and their website are responsively designed. The moral of this story is the explosion of the mobile only user should encourage marketers to ensure that you are leveraging all mobile marketing channels.


2. Mobile only users are not patient with load times. Ensure your landing pages and websites load quickly.
Even more so than traditional Internet users, mobile phone users expect pages to load immediately—if not sooner. Three seconds is considered the gold standard for mobile loading time. The growth of the mobile only user demonstrates the marketer’s need to ensure their website and landing pages are performing at the top technical ability.


3. Consider email, landing page and app integration.
One of the trends that can help capitalize on the mobile only user is the ability to effectively integrate mobile channels. Consider delivering a responsive design email that can lead the user to either an app or landing page. Additionally, it’s important to consider the role of apps in the mobile multichannel process. As many as 80% of mobile only users report a preference of using an application rather than their native browser. This mobile marketing fact demonstrates the significance of mobile applications’ importance in the mobile only user call-to-action. Tight integration with mobile optimized email, landing pages and mobile apps is essential in driving conversions.





The world is increasingly going mobile. The mobile only user could feasibly become the dominant form of web user sometime in the future. Marketers that do not alter their techniques now will find it difficult to remain competitive long-term. Are you satisfied with your company’s approach to mobile marketing? If not, it’s time to talk to J&C. Our mobile marketing strategy and planning webinar will help your company get an effective, successful mobile marketing strategy into action. Click here to sign up today.



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