The smartphone revolution: buying habits

30 Mar 2017 in

Smartphones are changing the way we do everything, with 50% of Brits now reaching for their phone instead of their alarm clock in the morning.

According to Google's Customer Barometer, three in four people use a smartphone and 65% of Brits choose to access the Internet from their devices. This has gone up 30% in four years, proving that smartphone uptake is not a passing fad.

This rise in smartphones is having an equally dramatic effect on consumers' buying habits. For marketers to remain successful, they need to be aware of these changes and evolve with the times.

So what has changed in these four years to encourage people to turn to smartphones? With help from a brand new report from Google, we did some investigating.

Most web browsing happens on smartphones – not desktops

According to The Guardian, 2016 saw smartphones overtake desktops as the device of choice for web browsing. Marketers can no longer dismiss smartphone search trends as secondary to those occurring on desktops. They must create content specifically for mobile users and be prepared for them to use functions such as click-to-call.

It is predicted that 80% of mobile data traffic will be from smartphones by the end of 2020 – leaving tablets and other devices far behind. Smartphone technology is evolving rapidly, and this is most probably the key reason for the increased amount of mobile web traffic.

How is smartphone technology affecting buying habits?

According to Google, 54% of Brits would prefer to do a task digitally where possible. It is also now much more likely for these buyers to use multiple screens during the buying process, when compared to 5 years ago.


Smartphones tend to be used during the research phase of purchasing. 46% of consumers looked for inspiration and made initial discoveries on their smartphone, 32% compared choices, 28% sought advice and 24% prepared for an offline purchase using a smartphone.

Smartphones influence both online and offline purchases. They provide context, information and support that in-store alternatives cannot offer. This is reflected in higher ticket items too, especially in the automotive industry.

To truly adapt your marketing strategy for smartphones, you must offer a streamlined customer experience across all channels.

When smartphones don't work

There are still, however, areas of commerce that smartphones cannot infiltrate. For example, only 50% of consumers are using mobile coupons with the other half relying on printed coupons instead.

This suggests that many retailers have yet to integrate their in-store and online channels in a user-friendly way.

Using smartphone coupons in a store relies on Wi-Fi/data availability, battery life and physically reaching for a device that might be stored away in a bag or pocket. Coupled with a general lack of awareness of how the mobile coupon process works, this element of disruption may make mobile coupons seem like too much effort.

There is another context in which smartphones are frequently shunned in favour of desktops, and that's the act of purchasing itself. The majority of online consumers (81%) still prefer to do their online shopping on a desktop instead of a mobile phone.


Therefore, while smartphones may not often be used to make the final purchase online or in-store, their role as a research tool means they influence whether a purchase takes place. Savvy marketers need to make sure they can trace their consumers' smartphone research activity and connect it to the eventual purchase, even when that takes place elsewhere.

How can call tracking help marketers manage smartphones?

Call tracking is a vital tool in any marketer's kit, but is especially useful when trying to understand your customers' relationship with their smartphones. Often, a consumer at the research stage of the buying cycle will click on a mobile PPC ad, for example, and make a call to find out further details. If you're a marketer, you need to track those calls and where they came from.

By assigning each customer a unique tracking number by using Infinity, marketers can chart their behaviour and truly understand the customer journey across all channels.

Infinity is the UK's leading call tracking solution and is one of the few to offer both online and offline tracking. It identifies visits from smartphones and explains exactly how the visitor got to that stage, and what they did next. Our PPC tracking is so sophisticated that it goes right down to the keyword level – so you’ll know which keywords are generating quality calls and which are not.

As the Internet of Things (IOT) expands to include more devices, more customer touchpoints are created – touchpoints that you need to be tracking. Already there are computers, tablets, TVs, MP3s, gaming devices and electronic assistants. While smartphones are still the leading force, other online devices must also be considered in your marketing strategy.

Infinity can help you track interactions from almost any touchpoint. Accurate attribution is the only way for marketers to create a strategy that maximises their ROI.

Contact us and find out how Infinity can help you today.

India Phillips

India Phillips

Marketing Assistant
Covering all areas in marketing with a focus on events and social media. She enjoys cooking, pilates, photography, and a good sunset.

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