How important is mobile traffic to our websites?

How important is mobile traffic to our websites? How seriously are you taking it? Some B2B marketing managers are sticking their fingers in their ears when being told it’s important, and clinging on to the notion that mobile access is probably a lot lower among professional users. This is the excuse they need to avoid addressing the fact that their company website looks awful on a smartphone, or even a tablet.

But are they right not to care? Let’s look at some examples of B2B websites. It’s hardly a statistically valid survey, but I promise I’ve selected these four companies at random from our client base.

Our first company makes electromechanical hardware. Its website doesn’t change for mobile devices, but does at least scale to fill the width of the screen. However, most text is unreadable on a smartphone without zooming. Desktop PC visitors remained fairly static in 2013 compared to 2012, at 94,000. Mobile device (smartphone) visitors however increased from 4,000 to 5,500, and tablet visitors from 2,000 to 3,500. So mobile and tablet traffic now represents about 10% of all site visits, and we’d expect it to be nearer 15% this year. The UK phone number is at the top of every page and is readable on a smartphone screen without zooming. A decent effort.

Our next company is in electronic components manufacturer, whose website also just scales to fill the screen width, and requires zooming to read anything. Desktop traffic rose from 220,000 in 2012 to 240,000 last year, and mobile traffic rose from 3,000 to 5,000 and tablet traffic from 2,000 to 4,000. Again, a much faster rise for smaller devices, but they still represent only a single-figure percentage of visits.

The third example is a manufacturer of scientific instrumentation, whose website, like the first two, scales to fill the screen width, but doesn’t offer a presentation which allows the text to be read on a smartphone without zooming. This company’s desktop traffic rose from 59,000 to 63,500 in 2013, while mobile traffic went from 3,500 to 4,500 and tablet traffic from 2,000 to 4,500. That puts smaller devices nearer 15% and rising fast.

My final example is a process industry hardware specialist, whose website uses a lot of “tables” and requires scrolling as well as zooming on mobile screens. Desktop traffic to the site rose from 68,000 to 69,000 in 2013, while mobile rose from 2,500 to 5,500 and tablet from 2,500 to 5,500 too – a very similar set of numbers to the previous company.

Now, I’m not suggesting that four random examples of manufacturer websites represents the entire engineering and scientific sector, but there is some consistency there. The mobile and tablet visitors represent typically around 10% of visitors, but it’s a number which is growing fast. All four websites don’t really make any concession to usability on smaller screens …yet.

Perhaps 10% of visitors is not a figure which demands a company drops everything to cater for its needs, but I understand that three of the four companies above plan to have major website overhauls launching in the next few weeks or months, and the fourth is budgeting to do so quite soon. If you’re not bothered about mobile traffic, it would appear that other companies definitely are. The rate of growth does suggest that mobile and tablet traffic, even in professional B2B sectors, is set to be of serious importance within a couple of years. It’s already way higher in the consumer sector.

Again, this tiny sample size does not mean every other B2B company is in the same position. But it is interesting.

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