We all know the world is moving to mobile. But many mobile marketers feel like they’ve thrown a party and no one came. They’ve invested in mobile websites, apps, and mobile ad campaigns only to be rewarded with lower than expected conversion rates. Where did everyone go?

Quantcast analyzed data from more than 100 companies to paint a picture of consumers’ research and purchase behaviors on mobile and desktop. Part of the challenge, we found, is that people use their mobile devices differently and more often than they use their desktop computers. The average American consumer has 3.3 devices, according to Forrester, and 80 percent of millennials reach for their smartphones as soon as they wake up, Mary Meeker has reported. Yet, for many companies, mobile conversion rates remain low.

Our research shows that consumers’ propensity to make purchases on mobile devices instead of desktop computers varies by industry, from a high of 36 percent of purchases happening via mobile channels for retail marketplaces (sellers of niche products) down to 4 percent for sports entertainment related purchases. That’s not very surprising: for high-consideration purchases, consumers are more likely to pull the trigger when they’re at a desktop or laptop computer, after weighing all the alternatives and making a deliberate and thoughtful choice.

share of mobile conversions by vertical

What is more surprising is that even for categories where purchase activity on mobile is low, mobile research activity can still be high. For example, in education (online universities), 11 percent of conversions (request for information) happen on mobile, while 32 percent of research activity (visiting course or program description pages) happens on mobile. This goes to show that when purchase consideration is high, consumers are using mobile for comparison shopping, information gathering, and other activities that may eventually lead them to convert via desktop.

share of mobile conversions and research by vertical

Additionally, time of day greatly affects consumers’ propensity to make purchases on mobile. The peak is during commuting hours in the morning (8am to 11am) and afternoon (4pm to 6pm) when people are 30 to 50 percent more likely to convert on mobile than at other times. The third peak is after 11 pm, when people typically spend 30 minutes browsing on their phones before going to sleep and when they are 20 percent more likely to convert.

mobile conversions hot spots

It comes as no surprise that some companies are far more successful at winning mobile conversions than others. Individual companies are able to drive 30 to 40 percent of their conversions on mobile platforms such as entertainment and banking.

share of mobile conversions and research by vertical

Even if a small number of conversions initially happen on mobile, companies that have found success on mobile understand that it is a critical part of the purchase decision path.

Adding mobile to your media mix is a pivotal step in engaging with your customers in an increasingly cross-platform world. The good news is that we recently made it even easier for you to reap the rewards of adding mobile to your Quantcast campaign(s). We are well positioned to deliver proven success in this space because:

  1. Our models understand your customers: As measured by Nielsen DAR, Quantcast delivered 70 percent lift in targeting accuracy and had the highest reach within the competitive set
  2. We find your best prospects: Consumers prospected by Quantcast are 3.3X more likely to convert compared to the site average.
  3. We deliver an average 8 percent lift in performance: Our testing shows that adding mobile to your campaigns leads to an average 8 percent lift in overall performance compared to running desktop-only.

As mobile continues to dominate our time spent online, having a well-thought-out mobile experience is table stakes for driving mobile conversions. Even for advertisers who aren’t quite there yet, investing in your mobile audience can pay off massively.

Finally, don’t be discouraged by initial lower conversion rates. You have to bring people to the door before you can convince them to stay for the party.
Methodology: To analyze this market more deeply, Quantcast examined purchase and research activity in nine different industry verticals using insights from hundreds of millions of mobile, web, and app destinations, and integrating demographic data with activity metrics. In each vertical tracked, we examined activity for 10-15 large companies, producing a unique dataset comprising more than 100 companies and hundreds of thousands of conversion events across both mobile and desktop clients.