This year, there’s been a lot of discussion among higher ed marketers and web strategists about moving sites to mobile-friendly or responsive designs. There is wide acknowledgement that mobile traffic to websites is increasing — and ample anecdotal evidence that people use smartphones and tablets to access the web from everywhere, not just campus.
We wondered what we could learn from looking at the Google Analytics metrics that we have for some of our clients. So we took a look at the data we have for 17 clients for the month of May in the last three years. The data reflects millions of visits to sites from colleges of all sizes, ranging from large public universities to small liberal arts colleges. While it’s not a random sample of colleges and universities overall, the trend is clear. Here’s what we found (on average):
May 2010 — 2.19% of visits from mobile
May 2011 — 4.77% of visits (increase of 118% over 2010)
May 2012 — 9.82% of visits (increase of 106% over 2011)
This is data for overall traffic to these sites. In comparison, some commercial websites report that they get upwards of 50% of their traffic from phones or tablets.
Audience-specific data is more difficult to mine, but a sampling of data for those clients who segregated undergraduate admissions traffic results in 13.16% of visits coming from mobile. And every client we looked at had higher mobile traffic percentages to admissions pages than to the site as a whole. It serves as some real world confirmation of the acceleration of mobile in higher education.
Stay tuned: we plan to revisit some of these data to see how the trend continues to unfold.
Greg Zguta Director of Client Support I've been working on education web projects since the late 90's and enjoy visiting campuses and watching how technology has transformed higher education since I got my first email account at Oberlin College in 1992. Back then, I mostly used the web to check weather radar and sports scores . . . I suppose technology hasn't transformed everything yet.