Traffic Trend: Tablet Device Share Declining

For Lawyers, Doctors, and Dentists

When I look at my clients’ Google Analytics data since 2014, I have noticed that tablet traffic seems to be declining. There shouldn’t be a reason for this; most of my clients’ websites are responsive and therefore tablet-friendly, and are showing up as relevant search results on mobile devices. I decided to take a deeper look at the possible reason(s) this trend may be occurring, and quickly arrived at a very obvious conclusion:

Our phones are growing, and that is causing tablets to become irrelevant.

To demonstrate this trend, I picked a few of our clients' websites and compared Analytics data based on two fixed date ranges. I narrowed down my examples to responsive websites that saw an increase in overall traffic in the more recent date range, and then evaluated their traffic by device type (desktop, tablet, or mobile). Notice how in all three examples mobile traffic has increased, and tablet traffic has decreased.

  • Website #1
    • Date Range: 1/1/2015 – 7/5/2015, compared to equal previous period 6/29/2014 – 12/31/2014
    • Overall Traffic: Up 8.05%
      • Tablet Traffic: Down 25.58%
      • Mobile Traffic: Up 50.75%
  • Website #2
    • Date Range: 1/1/2015 – 7/5/2015, compared to equal previous period 6/29/2014 – 12/31/2014
    • Overall Traffic: Up 5.57%
      • Tablet Traffic: Down 22.83%
      • Mobile Traffic: Up 11.20%
  • Website #3
    • Date Range: 1/1/2015 – 7/5/2015, compared to equal previous period 6/29/2014 – 12/31/2014
    • Overall Traffic: Up 3.86%
      • Tablet Traffic: Down 15.45%
      • Mobile Traffic: Up 2.79%

If you are a business owner or online marketer, don’t let the decrease in tablet traffic cause alarm. Instead, let’s analyze some of the reasons that tablet traffic is dropping.

Bigger Smartphones Are More Practical Than Tablets

Smartphones are reversing the trend of becoming smaller and more compact, and are now stretching the limits of our pants pockets to pack as much screen as possible into a highly portable device. For example, I recently upgraded from an iPhone 5, with a screen size of 4 inches, to an iPhone 6 Plus, which boasts a screen size of 5.5 inches. Compare this to our household tablet, an older generation iPad Mini, with a screen size of 7.9 inches, and the next step up of a laptop, with a screen size of 15 inches. The intermediary screen size just isn’t that much larger than the phone, and most users would prefer to have a dedicated keyboard on the larger device.

Smartphones also have more capabilities and usability options than a tablet. You can make calls on a smartphone. You don’t have to purchase a separate data plan for your tablet if you want to be able to use it anywhere without Wi-Fi. You can use your smartphone, even the big ones, with one hand, therefore allowing you to multitask (jot down notes, drink your coffee, eat your lunch – we draw the line at texting and driving). You also lighten your load and simplify your list of expensive-things-you-don’t-want-to-lose by relying on one device instead of two. In the busy, modern world we live in, this simplicity is necessary.

Laptops Are Getting Smaller and Convertible

Most of the laptop computer advertisements we see anymore are for convertible, or hybrid, laptops that can become tablets with the help of a detachable keyboard. Popular examples are the Lenovo Yoga, Google Chromebook, and the Microsoft Surface. This hybrid approach is ideal because it gives you two devices in one, and utilizes a touch screen for additional functionality. These devices still have a large enough screen to fall into the desktop-laptop category in Google Analytics, but share a lot of the same functionality and features as a tablet.

Tablets Are an Expensive Commodity

Not everyone can afford to have a device in all three categories, and the first one to get cut is the tablet. Like phones, the technology changes frequently, and keeping up with the latest release is an expensive hobby. Also, not all tablets are built for Web browsing. I often see the Barnes & Noble Nook or the Amazon Kindle in the list of mobile devices, and those are built for media consumption, not perusing the Internet.

Understand & Embrace the Change

While no business wants to see its website traffic drop, the decrease in tablet traffic  is often balanced with an increase in mobile and/or desktop traffic. In fact, a recent article from The New York Times suggested that most people browse the Internet on their phones (spending an average of three hours per day on these devices), but use a desktop or laptop computer to make an actual purchase.

Additionally, this trend is not the case with all websites. There are a lot of variables in your website traffic: your market, the technology that powers your website, and the demographics of your typical website user. As long as your website is responsive and delivers your business’s important and necessary information to users to help them decide to contact you, does it really matter what device they are using to look at your website?

For more information on responsive websites and traffic trends, contact your Internet Marketing Consultant at Page 1 Solutions. If you are a prospective client interested in Internet marketing for lawyers, dentists, plastic surgeons, and ophthalmologists, please contact our Sales Team for more information.

-By Laura Nagler, Internet Marketing Consultant