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Measuring the Impact of Mobile in a Multi-Device World

One day this week during my morning train commute into Center City Philadelphia, I remembered I needed a new baseball glove in order to maximize my contribution to the esteemed Sidecar softball team. Since I haven’t purchased a glove since…well…ever (I’m pretty sure my mom bought my last glove for me when I was 12), I pulled out my iPhone to do a little glove-buying research. I fired up my browser, clicked on some product results in Google Shopping (since they were the easiest to click), and explored both the products and the online stores.

What I didn’t do was purchase anything on the train. It’s a hassle to put in your credit card info and complete a transaction on such a small screen, so I waited until I was at work, pulled out my laptop, and bam! I’m on my way to becoming the Bill Buckner Andrew McCutchen (Go Pirates!) of Sidecar softball.

My purchase journey here is not unique, In fact, it’s the typical buying cycle for many consumers, and it’s been trending this way for quite a while. Check out this now “classic,” 2012 study from Google on the “Multi Device World.” In it, 61% of respondents indicated that they have started as a mobile shopper and completed the purchase on a pc. Now, over 40% of all e-commerce traffic originates from mobile online shopping, but conversion rates remain relatively low. With shoppers utilizing all of the devices they have available to research and make purchases, how can an e-commerce marketer ensure that they are getting the most out of cross-device traffic?

Check Out Estimated Total Conversions

The first step to taking advantage of cross-device traffic in Google Shopping, is to let the data tell you where you stand today. One metric you should be using is Estimated Total Conversions, which Google brought to AdWords in Oct. 2013, Estimated Total Conversions gives statistics on the conversions that you are used to seeing in AdWords, as well as an estimate of conversions that took multiple devices to complete.  You can read more about it here.

A tip: to hit a homerun in your cross channel strategy (see what I did there?) add one or more of the Est. total conv. columns to your campaign statistics; here are a few examples of useful columns: Est. total conv., Est. total conv. value, Est. total conv. rate, Est. cross device conv.

This data will help you understand if you should value mobile traffic above the face value of the direct return that you’re used to measuring. Taking a look at the delta between total conversion value and estimated total conversion value will give you an idea of what cross-device conversions are contributing to your revenue in different channels. If this is a significant enough number, you should evaluate your goals and spend for mobile traffic AND desktop traffic in your paid ad channels.

One thing to remember: more traffic is going to convert going from mobile to desktop than will ever convert going from desktop to mobile. So consider that as you increase the importance of mobile traffic appropriately, also think about decreasing the importance of desktop just a bit.  How much you should adjust is going to vary depending on the data, but this traffic flow often creates a gap in goals between mobile and desktop traffic, where mobile should be managed to a higher cost over sale goal than desktop in order to maximize revenue while keeping the overall account cost over sale goal constant.

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