Even by just looking at the last two decades, you can see how cellphones changed the way we live. The smartphone went from being a luxury to a necessity pretty fast. I doubt you know anyone who doesn’t have theirs with them all the time.

It’s no wonder that it also changed the way we consume goods and services.

Even before the pandemic, mobile was rapidly impacting the way we make purchasing decisions. And with our continued dependence on smartphones, that trend is sure to continue.

That’s why if you’re a marketer, a sales leader, or the business owner, knowing what’s going on with mobile traffic is critical.

To get you started, here are some mobile user data trends that can help your business understand customer behavior better.

There are billions of smartphone users worldwide

Let’s start with the biggest number of all. Yes, there are billions of people worldwide who own and use a smartphone. According to a study by Statista, there are 6.4 billion smartphone users globally, and it’s expected to increase in the next few years.

This data reinforces the fact that almost everybody in the world uses smartphones in one way or another. This behavior creates several advantages for modern marketers:

  1. It’s easier to go global. Suppose you want to reach highly-populated countries outside the US like China and India. In that case, you can use digital advertising to reach them instead of relying on traditional marketing like TV and radio ads, which are also more expensive.

  2. The decision to go mobile for your website is easier. With most people on mobile, it’s easier to decide that your website should either have a mobile version or a mobile responsive design. Not doing so puts you at a significant disadvantage.

  3. You have more data. When it comes to big data, nothing beats mobile data. Why? Before mobile, you can only collect data when a person logs into their computer, uses an online facility, etc. Now, every movement of mobile users is recorded.

    Whether they are simply running and tracking their daily steps or attending a video meeting from their phone, it produces data that can be analyzed for future insights. It makes it easier for marketers to discover customer journeys and leverage them for your business.

Image from Statista

The graph shows the continuous growth of smartphone users around the world from 2016, and its expected growth up to 2026 (image source: statista.com)global

People use their phones to research products and competitors not only online but also for in-store purchase

It’s not a secret that most shoppers research a product or service online using their mobile phones.

But that’s not exclusive to online purchases. This consumer behavior also translates to in-store behavior.

According to a study commissioned by Salsify, 77% of surveyed shoppers said they use their mobile device to get information about a planned purchase instead of asking in-store personnel.

For companies, this emphasizes the importance of having accurate and accessible information online. Without it, consumers will not ask an in-store salesperson. Instead, they will leave and probably go to a competitor.

Younger internet users like to make purchases on their mobile phones

In DataPortal’s Digital 2021: Global Overview Report, about 69.4% of internet users use their mobile devices for online shopping.

It applies more to the younger generation, specifically females aged 16 to 24 and males 25 to 34. The majority of this demographic has used their mobile phone to make a purchase.

It shows the continuous trend that Gen Xers and Millennials can be found on the mobile space, and that is where companies should target them.

People use their mobile phones to buy—but not as much as with their desktop (yet)

While there is indeed continuous growth in the number of purchases done via mobile, it turns out that most online sales conversions still happen through desktops and laptops.

According to a study by Smart Insights, global retail conversion is still higher for desktops at 3.90% compared to 1.82% for mobile.

It’s a surprising result given that most people thought that many have already shifted to mobile for all their online purchases.

The table shows the conversion rate by device type from Q3 of 2019 to Q3 of 2020 (Image source: smartinsights.com)

But there are a lot of reasons why the desktop computer is still the go-to device for online purchases.

  • Boomers – As mentioned above in DataPortal’s Digital 2021: Global Overview Report, younger people are more likely to make a purchase using their mobile phones.

    The older generation, on the other hand, is not as technology savvy. It probably takes older people a while to get on board with online purchasing compared to in-store purchases. They are most likely to do it on a more familiar device, probably a Windows-powered computer.

  • Bigger screen – Let’s face it, as much as smartphones are accessible to everyone, information is not presented as well on a desktop or laptop screen. People may still prefer to read the product information on a wider screen as it helps them absorb info better. And if you’re already on your desktop checking the information, you might as well make the purchase on the same device.

However, one thing to consider is that mobile may not have leapfrogged desktop yet when it comes to conversion. But it’s getting there. The number of purchases made on mobile is steadily increasing every year while purchases on desktops have been decreasing.

It’s just a matter of time before mobile purchase conversions are higher than desktop. That is why spending on marketing towards mobile users vs. desktop users may still be a wise investment now and in the future.

Internet users use voice search once a day and usually on their mobile devices

The use of voice search has become more common as devices have also improved deciphering words and phrases and providing better results from voice searchers.

In fact, according to Google Reports, about 27% of the global population is already using voice search on mobile.

That’s a significant number.

As a marketer, this is an opportunity to engage customers. After all, most voice searches are phrased as questions. Think what, where, when or how.

You can reach customers at the top of the funnel by providing answers to the most common questions. It allows you to introduce them to your industry, product or service and eventually lead them to customer-focused content that converts.

People mainly use their smartphones to consume digital media

While sales conversions are still higher on desktops, there’s no denying that more people are consuming digital media on their phones instead.

According to Insider Intelligence, US consumers’ average time spent on their phones reached 3:13 per day in 2020. The only other device that has seen increased digital media consumption is the TV, but this is more because of the rise of smart televisions and the pandemic keeping people at home.

And this is not just streaming music, movies or TV shows. It’s also about internet-borne content like podcasts, TikTok videos, social media influencers and more.

For businesses, it shows that spending on digital media ads is a very viable option if they want to target internet users, which leads us to the last trend on this list.

Advertisers are increasing their digital spend on mobile

It’s pretty simple. Businesses recognize that a lot of their target consumers are on mobile. It’s only natural that they will invest in campaigns that target mobile users.

And the numbers support it. According to eMarketer, the total digital ad spending for 2021 will reach $455.30 billion. Of that number, about 55.2% will go to display ads, while 40.2% will go to search.

As mobile use is expected to continuously grow in the coming years, it’s easy to see that digital spending by companies will also rise. And that’s not just ads. You can expect more emphasis on mobile SEO investment to drive organic visits, which are unpaid traffic from search engines.

It’s just a good investment because, as the other trends on this list show, mobile is where the customer is.


These mobile use data trends show that mobile is heavily embedded in the lives of almost every person on the planet, AKA your consumers. If you want your business to succeed, you have to be where your customers are, and in the majority of their time, they are on their smartphones.