The Battle for Website Visits is Increasingly Being Fought on Smartphones

March 9, 2018

Website usage in the US has stalled. And with at least 90% of the US adult population already using the internet, growth in website usage is unlikely to come from new users. New data from Adobe – showing a 2% drop in website visits between January 2015 and December 2017 – has the analysts arguing that “websites have to fight for the existing user attention.”

One of the most significant ways to win that attention is through a better smartphone experience. Adobe’s data indicates that smartphone visits are cannibalizing visits from other devices. Indeed, smartphones are the only source of website visit growth in the US, with visits almost doubling (+89%) during the 3-year period of analysis. Desktop visits, by contrast, have declined by 17% within that same time period, and tablet visits by a more significant 30%.

It’s true that smartphones still account for only a minority (39%) of website visits in the US as of December 2017. However, with that figure likely to continue growing for the time being, the focus will likely continue shifting to smartphones.

Meanwhile, the importance of a strong user experience on smartphones is brought further to light by data in the report showing that visits from these devices are getting shorter. Between January 2015 and December 2017 visit time on smartphones declined by 7.3% and pages per visit by 8.6%. That leads the analysts to note that “consumers are becoming accustomed to an optimal, efficient experience” and that “websites need to mind the shorter attention span and decreased tolerance for useless steps.”

On an encouraging note, smartphone visits are slowly becoming more valuable relative to desktop ones. As of December 2017, smartphone revenue per visit was about 30% that of desktop revenue per visit. While that may seem low, it’s a considerably improvement from January 2015, up by 11% points.

This suggests a better experience on smartphones and more comfort with ordering products and services on these devices. That’s supported by recent data from Yes Lifecycle Marketing, which found that for the first time last year, email-driven conversions (orders per click) on mobile devices reached parity with desktops.

Other Highlights

Adobe’s report contains some other interesting data regarding smartphones:

  • The US added 56 million new smartphone users from 2015 through 2017;
  • Android devices comprised 41% share of smartphone visits in the US in December 2017, compared to 59% for iOS devices;
  • The higher the resolution on the smartphone, the higher the order value, with each additional 10,000 pixels translating to a $1.18 higher order value;
  • Hotter states tend to have a higher smartphone visit share, as the share of online visits coming from smartphones seems to show a strong correlation with average yearly temperature;
  • Colder states tend to have a higher incidence of WiFi use on smartphones than warmer states;
  • The preference for screen size (70%) over design/aesthetics (27%) is stronger in the US than in European countries such as the UK, France and Germany;
  • Almost 1 in 5 (17%) Americans has tried augmented reality (AR) on their smartphones;
  • Close to two-thirds (64%) in the US are comfortable using voice assistants in the front of others; and
  • The use of AR on smartphones and comfort with the use of voice assistants in public are both higher in the US than in the UK, France and Germany.

About the Data: The data is based on an analysis of a trillion visits to more than 5,000 websites from January 2015 to December 2017. The survey data is from a survey of more than 4,000 consumers from the US, UK, Germany and France.

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