Successfully Converting the Multi-Device User

June 26, 2015

2:00 pm

Which one of us can go a whole week without any tech devices? No smartphones, no laptops, no tablets, nothing. OK, how about a day then?

If you’re anything like the people surveyed by Facebook last year, a large proportion of you wouldn’t manage a day without your favorite tech toys, forget about a whole week.

According to the study, over 60% of all online adults in the UK use at least 2 devices per day to browse the internet. This switching behavior gets magnified as the number of devices owned goes up. For instance, 54% users who own 2 devices switch between them to complete a task, while 73% of users who own 3 devices show the same switching tendencies.

Ok. So we’ve established that we are all incorrigible multi-device users. But what does that mean for the average business trying to sell their products or services to us?

How Multi-Device Users Behave

Multi-device users are exposed to more screen time than single device users.

google study


A study by Google and Ipsos on multi-device usage found that smartphones are not just used on the go, 60% of smartphone usage happens at home. This means, there’s a good chance that the user is simultaneously using at least two screens while at home.

Google found something even more interesting. Consumers who used a single device shopped an average of 6 product categories. But multi-device users had significantly more diverse shopping preferences. Users who owned 2 devices shopped across 8 product categories, while those who had 3 devices shopped across 9 categories. So literally, the logic is “the more, the merrier.”

Tracking Them Across Devices

Identifying users was simpler in single device days, when just a simple cookie dropped in the user’s browser would suffice. However, with this system, when I shut down my laptop and browse a website on my phone, the website identifies me as a brand new user and treats me accordingly. Big mistake.

The first step to converting a user who flits between devices is to identify him across all owned devices as the same user and assign a unique identifier to him. One way to do this is by asking users to login to your site each time they use it, so they can be tracked across multiple devices using their email ID or user profile on your site. However, most users prefer not to sign in, especially if they’re simply browsing and not buying anything right away.

Enter Tapad. The tool uses a proprietary “Device Graph” technology with which they map users across their laptops, mobile phones, tablets and more with pinpoint accuracy.

Tapad uses a combination of contextual data like the websites a user has browsed, first party data like login information, third party data from their partners as well as their own custom audience segments to determine with accuracy who each user is and how they behave across devices. Since it uses no personally identifying information that ties each user to their browsing behavior, there are no (known) privacy issues to worry about.

The tool allows you to personalize your own content for each user based on this information. It also allows you to create and target ads across the web to your users more efficiently by studying their cross-device browsing habits.

Giving Them a Mobile-First Experience

The Google study quoted earlier shows that 65% of users now use smartphones as starting points for their shopping experiences. This is later carried forward to a desktop computer or a tablet. This means the logic of reverse engineering desktop sites to create lighter mobile versions is actually backwards. Businesses should be building e-commerce sites mobile first and then building upwards towards larger screen sizes.

A tool like Dunked allows you to do just that. Dunked offers a wide range of stylish templates for your website that are designed with the mobile user in mind. The templates automatically detect retina display devices like the iPad or iPhones and showcase your design and images with stunning clarity – a great way to stand out within those smaller screen sizes.

The tool aims to please with a simple drag and drop design option for the non-coders among us, while simultaneously offering HTML and CSS based editing as well for the more tech-savvy folk. The fact that it is already optimized for search engines and offers add-ons like your own domain name and hosting makes it even more attractive.

Finding Out What They Think

While you may be spending huge amounts of time and resources on making your website multi-device ready, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. Instead of simply relying on testing the various versions with your testing team in your office, hit the road (not literally) and find out what users have to say about their experience with your website and its multi-device communications.

Do users now see more relevant ads? Are they able to browse through your site more easily? Is solving service issues easier? Use a versatile survey builder like 123ContactForm to know what your users really want.

123 contact form
What I love about this tool is the simplicity with which you can build detailed surveys, replete with rating scales, pie charts, bar graphs and more. The tool has an analytics section that offers real-time insights on the data collected via the survey forms, so you don’t have to export it all to a different analytics suite to decode all the data. Most importantly, each form built on the tool is automatically mobile friendly – no extra coding needed.

Winding Up

Multiple device usage is here to stay. Google found in its research that multiple screens make us feel more efficient. Maybe it’s the multi-tasking that makes us feel we accomplish more in less time. Or maybe it’s just mere laziness that prompts us to pick up the nearest device to complete a task. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that businesses that adapt to this changing user behavior will be the ones that outpace their competition.

Featured image: Stephanie Walter, Wikimedia Commons


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Tracy Vides is an independent researcher and content strategist, who blogs about things as diverse as tech, fashion, cars, and finance. You can follow her on Twitter @TracyVides or catch all her posts on Google+.