Measuring Mobile – Using Google Analytics to Prove Mobile Matters

Marketers: You can no longer ignore mobile. If your team has not regularly addressed mobile, that needs to change. But it’s hard to focus on mobile, right? Starting now, that’s going to change: By using simple reports with basic metrics you can easily grab the attention of your marketing department. And, we have made a custom Google Analytics (GA) report template for you to do just that.

Click here for the report.

Using data from Portent’s site traffic I will show you three metrics crucial to tracking mobile success:

  • Users
  • Bounce Rate
  • Revenue or Goal Completions

Why it’s a big deal
Mobile users already account for 28% of all web traffic. Here at Portent, we see clear evidence that mobile traffic is rapidly growing. Compare desktop to mobile since 2010 among our largest clients:

1 - Data Graph

Based on traffic projections for 2014 we see a 65% increase in mobile traffic compared to 2013. In comparison to 2010, desktop traffic has doubled while mobile traffic has increased 30 fold! Clearly this is a rising audience segment.

It’s been “the year of mobile” for a half-decade now, but in 2014 there are still websites with less than ideal mobile experiences. Remember when you wanted to slam your phone in frustration after trying to navigate a mobile site (hopefully not this one)? Maybe you’ve seen jumbled pages like this:


For World of Warcraft fans out there, this forum’s material is incredibly difficult to read. There’s a navigation bar at the top somewhere; good luck reading it!

Using the Custom Report

If you feel like your company could improve their mobile user experience, first you need to demonstrate that mobile is a large – or at least growing – part of your traffic. One way to demonstrate this is by using date comparisons to show growth or decline of traffic, goal completions, or any other metric of interest. Our custom report can do it for you. Click the date box in the upper right corner of a report and select the date intervals you want to compare:

date range

For this example I chose Jan – May 2014 vs Jan – May 2013, because Portent unveiled a new site design in January 2014. Comparing data to the same interval last year will give us an idea of how well the new design works. Note: the following data is all from our GA profile.

Metric 1 – Users
The first metric to take into account is users. It identifies how many pairs of eyeballs have seen your material:


Portent’s desktop users still bring the most traffic, but their numbers are falling. Meanwhile our mobile visits have increased over 450%!

Using this report and your own data, how much has your mobile traffic grown?

Metric 2 – Bounce Rate
Gaining more traffic is nice. But it’s also important to show that these visitors are enjoying their mobile experience (or at the very least, not hating it). Bounce Rate is an excellent metric to judge on whether or not your site holds your audience’s attention. Here are Portent’s results:

Bounce rate

The bounce rate fell across all device categories. But notice that it fell by the most for mobile users, just over 18%. Mobile visitors were less inclined to leave after one stop on our site, which is generally a signal that a website is easy to navigate.

If you’re a retailer, this improvement could lead to more sales and in turn more revenue. Perhaps your bounce rates are on the rise or higher than you’d like – this provides an excellent way to start a conversation with your development team. Simple reports like the one above can show them that visitors do not enjoy your site as well as you want them to, and that now is the time to take action.

Metric 3 – Revenue or Goal Completions
While traffic and bounce rate provide insight, the most important metrics measure impact on your bottom line. Whether it’s revenue or leads, you must convince your team that mobile is either successful or can deliver higher conversion rate. In the custom report, you can alternate between revenue or goal completions simply by changing tabs in the report. Going back to the report, we can see mobile’s impact on what you want most from your site:

Goal Completions

Conversions went up almost 370% for mobile users! This shows what a responsive design can do to enhance your mobile traffic. Technically the conversion rate dropped, but this is normal when there is a large influx of new traffic.

How did your conversions compare on mobile? Did your conversion rate rise or fall?

Make the case for mobile

Here is a link to this custom report in case you missed it earlier in this post. Feel free to try it out. Whenever you do find an interesting pattern or metric with your mobile traffic, simplify it: Does it make the case for mobile?

Whether you’re a full-time analyst or a marketing manager that checks GA from time to time, you want to show your insights efficiently. This applies to all types of reporting. But clearly, mobile traffic deserves our utmost attention.

Timothy Gillman

Analytics Strategist - Distinguished Alum
Analytics Strategist - Distinguished Alum

Timothy came to Portent in November 2013. With a background in communication and mathematics he strives to make data analysis more digestible for everyone. He also enjoys analyzing baseball statistics, specifically around the Seattle Mariners. Go M's!

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  1. Mobile search is really important now – ignore it at your peril! I think that the majority of sites Google analytics will show the same as your example above.

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