Despite the rapid growth in popularity of mobile internet use, two-thirds of companies have yet to optimise their websites for mobile. 

This is one of the findings from our Conversion Rate Optimization Report, produced in association with RedEye, and based on a survey of more than 700 client-side and agency digital marketers. 

It's a missed opportunity, especially for retailers, as there are enough success stories now to show that mobile can work. 

Growth in mobile internet usage

According to stats from the ONS, there has been significant growth in mobile internet adoption over the last 12 months, with an extra 6m using their phone to access the web than in 2010. 

The table below shows the number of UK internet users that accessed the web via mobile in 2011: 

Our Mobile Websites and Apps Optimization Best Practice Guide, written for Econsultancy by Belron's Craig Sullivan, contains some useful stats on the growth of the mobile internet. 

One thing companies should be doing is monitoring the levels of traffic that arrive at their websites from mobile devices.

This will provide a valuable insight into the opportunities that exist, and should help to make the business case for launching a mobile site or app. 

The figures below come from Belron, and show the percentage of traffic to its worldwide websites that comes from mobile devices.

These stats will obviously not be the same for every firm, but Belron (which includes brands like Autoglass) has a very broad customer base (anyone over 17 with a driving licence), so the figures are indicative of the growth in mobile usage. 

If your mobile traffic is approaching 20% of all visits to your site, then a mobile site should be worth the investment. 

Growth in worldwide mobile traffic (% of all unique visitors)

Mobile success stories 

If the rapid growth of mobile internet adoption isn't enough to convince companies that they need a mobile strategy, then they should look at some of the mobile sales figures from brands like eBay. 


Mobile now accounts for 10% of all UK sales, and globally, a product is sold via mobile every second on average. The company now expects to generate $5bn in revenue from global mobile sales in 2011. 


Ocado's mobile apps for Android and iPhone are a major source of income, with sales up 600% this year to £66m. 

With 10,000 users registering every month and 4,000 checkouts are made each day, mobile transactions now account for 12% of Ocado purchases.


Argos doesn't actually sell via mobile, but its Check and Reserve app allows customers to check stock in local stores and pick up the same day. 

Its half year results show that the proportion of its sales from mobile devices was 4%, which is roughly £2.6m per week, according to Snow Valley


You don't need to have a big budget to make the most of mobile commerce either, and the example of TruffleShuffle shows what can be achieved. 

With an investment of £200 (thanks to an internship scheme), TruffleShuffle built a basic mobile site which drove £70,000 in sales in just over a year. 

Usability testing with mobiles

Another way to see if you need a mobile site is to look at the user experience for mobile visitors. This will tell you whether some parts of the site simply do not work, Flash elements for example. 

Also, while it may work reasonably well via mobile, there may be barriers to purchase which will only be picked up during testing. 

However, just under a third (28% of companies and 30% of agency clients) say they have used mobile phones and under a fifth have used tablets while testing (16% of company respondents and 17% of agency clients).

Have you/your clients conducted usability testing of your/their website using either of the following?

Optimising emails for mobile

Another area where firms can improve ROI is adapting emails for mobile devices. A growing proportion of emails (15% upwards) are being opened and read on mobile phones, but a minority of companies are optimising emails for mobile.

As the British Airways example from this post shows, optimising for mobile, and for specific devices, can produce excellent results.

As part of a campaign to promote its Executive Club mobile apps, four different emails were created, for desktop, iPhone, Android and Blackberry, so that recipients could have the best version of the email for their phone. 

The results were impressive, with open rates for mobile exceeding those for desktop users, in excess of 50% for iPhone and Android devices. The CTR was 25% for users who accessed email on their iPhone and in excess of 30% for BlackBerry users. The campaign generated over 250,000 downloads, more than double the targeted number. 

Despite the potential for improving open rates by optimising emails for mobile, just 14% of companies and 24% of agencies are currently doing this. 

Have you/your clients designed your/their marketing emails specifically for either of the following?

Graham Charlton

Published 1 November, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (6)

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Interesting stats. It'd be interesting to know out of the "700 client-side and agency digital marketers" how many of them are big businesses or small businesses, or if they're a comfortable mixture of the two.

I think it's an issue of budgets and priorities, especially with small businesses. If they're struggling enough as it is with SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing and traditional/offline marketing then getting a mobile site is probably going to be a future consideration, and not a particularly current one.

almost 7 years ago



Though this is a major area of potential opportunity, this is also an area which will require a lot of investment from the offset to make this kind of thing work. In the short term though, I think its important a business has their online marketing and seo fully functional and successful before considering this channel of marketing.

almost 7 years ago


Serhiy Kolesnyk

I can't agree with suggestion 'If your mobile traffic is approaching 20% of all visits to your site, then a mobile site should be worth the investment.'

If you do that, you'll leave many of your potential customers with lousy mobile experience. And don't expect they will revisit your site again thinking that this time you'll serve them mobile adapted site.

Start developing mobile version of your site now. Best testing tools are available at

Test against all version of mobile browsers, because HTML5 and WAP 2.x. Otherwise, if you target only Android/iPhone users you're excluding 75% of mobile users.

almost 7 years ago


Fritz Boyle

While there are certainly plenty of companies that have not optimized for mobile, it should be pointed out that not every type of industry requires it. We don't want to see the same things we saw in the 90s where brochures were converted to table based websites just so they could have a "Web presence"

almost 7 years ago


Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

@Serhiy - He means that if it's that big - it should be obvious. We started building our mobile sites when it was 3%. A year later and we're at 20%.

I'd be building a mobile optimised site, even if your visitor %age is 1 or 2% - because it WILL get bigger.

You're also wrong about Android and iPhone. If you read the report, it explains the problem. iPhone, Android (and in US/UK, Blackberry) are the big slice of the pie. Other phones do not surf or buy in the same numbers, as they have a poor experience.

I would always advise you design for all phones (as we do - see on a Blackberry, for example) - as you get the most money.

The segments that actually browse mobile sites are not the same as ownership stats, because ownership does not equal browsing and buying. Android, iPhone and newer windows phones offer a good experience here, so no surprise they dominate *real* web analytics reports.

Even in countries round the world where we have large Symbian ownership rates, the actual visits are low compared to smartphones. It's just not an audience for many people - they are not visiting your site!

If you want to test many devices, the report shows a heap of emulators, testing services and software you can use. You need to find what devices are trying to use your site, and test against those, as this prioritises the business opportunity.

almost 7 years ago


Rod boon

Why are all mobile websites complete rubbish? Despite the assertions in the article most people hate mobile websites. If I'm forced to use the mobile version of a website I leave it immediately and find a proper website. With modern smart Phones there is no need for a stripped down content lacking hard to navigate poorer cousin of a web site

over 5 years ago

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