Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 1.58.48 PMWhat if you could spend time with each of your customers for a day and take notes on their mobile behavior for yourself? The sites they visit, the apps they download (or choose not to download), the mobile emails they decide to open, and even the brands they engage with on social media?

The truth is, advanced analytics platforms today do tell us a lot about how consumers interact with their mobile devices, but it can be hard to get a high-level picture of how mobile's growth has truly taken over. "Going mobile" is marketers' battle cry, but do consumers think about mobile as much as marketers do?

In the 2014 Mobile Behavior Report, we conducted two separate studies as part of the same research, to arrive at a fuller picture of the mobile data. First, we tracked 470 consumers on their smartphones and tablets in real-time. We saw the mobile websites they engaged with, noted how they used their mobile apps, compared smartphone vs. tablet data, and more. Then, we asked consumers questions about the role of mobile in their lives (Does it help you connect better with family? Are mobile websites sufficient?) and discovered some interesting findings:

Mobile Devices are a Critical Part of Life

  • 85% of survey respondents said mobile devices are a central part of everyday life. 90% of those age 18-24 agreed.
  • 89% say that mobile devices allow them to stay up to date with loved ones and social events.
  • More than nine of ten consumers say that access to content however they want it is somewhat or very important.
  • 83% of consumers say a seamless experience across all devices is somewhat or very important.
  • Consumers most frequently associate “mobile” with a smartphone/cell phone (54% selected this association), while only 14% said tablets/e-readers.

Smartphones vs. Tablets

  • Consumers who own both smartphones and tablets don’t spend less time using their smartphones, indicating that tablets complement smartphones and increase total time spent on tech devices and not taking away from it.
  • Three groups are most likely to own tablets: those earning $75-$100K (81% own tablets); those earning $100K+ (79% own tablets); and consumers aged 35-44 (81% own tablets).
  • Of tablet owners, 65% report using their tablet while watching TV at least once per day, while 41% use their tablet and smartphone simultaneously at least once a day.
  • Consumers use tablets much more than smartphones to access Twitter (76% of tracked Twitter visits occurred on tablets), YouTube (73% of YouTube visits occurred on tablets), Amazon (69% of Amazon visits occurred on tablets), CNN, and Facebook (both CNN and Facebook were accessed on tablets 67% of the time).
  • The only three properties that our tracked consumers accessed more on smartphones than tablets were Pinterest (83% of visits occurred on smartphones), weather (82% of visits occurred on smartphones), and Yahoo (55% of visits occurred on smartphones).

Opting in to Mobile Messages from Brands

  • 76% of users agree that location sharing provides more meaningful content, and 73% believe that location sharing is somewhat or very useful.
  • Push messages are also effective in engaging consumers immediately. Only 8% wait or ignore the notification before checking it.
  • Although adoption by consumers is low (54% have actually opted in to receive text messages from a brand), text messaging is seen as somewhat or very useful by 91% of users who actually subscribe to a brand’s texts. 
  • Males are significantly more likely than females to scan a coupon or QR code to get quick access to information (56% of males do this, vs. 39% of females).

Mobile Meets Social Media

  • Based on tracking data, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube experience peak usage levels in the morning (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) with secondary peaks at night (9 p.m. to 12 a.m.). Facebook traffic is most consistent throughout the day.
  • Tracked visits to the Pinterest mobile website show especially high evening and night usage and especially low morning usage.
  • Finding meaningful content on branded social media properties can be a struggle, 46% of consumers say.
  • Females are significantly more likely to like or follow a brand on social media to receive coupons or deals (71% do so, compared to 63% of consumers overall)