The answer is apparently 2.6 devices, according to research by MillwardBrown.

Ignoring the obvious opportunities for a digital equivalent to the Christmas cracker style jokes of how many people it takes to change a lightbulb, what does this tell us?

The three key implications to consider here are:

  1. Surely the ‘mobile first’ strategy that so many officially have in place is actually putting conversions at risk
  2. Different devices play different roles in the path to conversion, and this is going to vary considerably by industry
  3. Tracking users across devices is imperative but not yet fully possible.

Mobile-first approach is flawed

Mobile-first strategies are something most of us will have been hearing about for a few years now. Whether they are really happening is another matter, but what is likely is that they were largely born out of ‘positive discrimination’ towards mobile devices. Mobile had not been considered properly for a long time, and this coupled with the growth in search volumes on mobile led many organisations to place mobile at the heart of their development, content and UX plans.

But with more than one device apparently needed to generate a conversion, surely this approach will still not lead to the user experience your customers are after?

Therefore, the only conclusion is that all devices need to be considered equal.

Understand the purpose behind each search, by device

This is the messy and tricky bit. Are users using multiple devices for different reasons and different stages of the funnel, or it is more about convenience and their location/need in that moment?

This is where there will be a divergence between brands and industries. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s crucial to really understand your CRM and Analytics data to ensure you are providing the right experience at the right time – here, the device is just one aspect. Using multiple signals rather than just the keyword is of paramount importance.

Tracking across devices

Although there is no complete and foolproof system, there are lots of options that brands are exploring, from using where users are logged into Google to track across devices to using when someone is logged in or registered on their own site. If you want to be really clever, you could track this in-store where applicable.

Although none of these are perfect, going as far as you can within the current limitations is better than nothing. Nothing is ever perfect and, if you wait for it to be, you’ll likely have missed the boat.

What next?

The crux of all of this is to ensure you use your Analytics platform to the best of its abilities. Investing in analytics and the analysis of it is where the game-changer is going to be found.