On LinkedIn's (LNKD) 4th Quarter 2011 call, company executives shared many recently achieved milestones, including reaching 150 million members in January. The execs also noted that mobile is the company's highest growing segment (15% of total visits), and it planned to roll out new initiatives in the coming months, such as mobile ads, to capitalize on mobile's momentum.
Not a surprise that mobile is its fastest growing segment; our clients have been achieving soaring results in their mobile segments since 2010. LinkedIn could have been seeing similar results, but it's been slow in offering mobile access apps and interfaces that have not mightily impressed users.
Why does it matter? With 15% of 150 million members -- 27.5 million -- visiting via mobile, the experience needs to be a great one to encourage revenue growth via ads, premium memberships, etc. The mobile growth is there; the question is, how fast can LinkedIn act to convert the traffic into more revenue. Because every day that passes without an improved mobile experience (no iPad app yet?) is a day that sub-optimizes revenue potential.
How dramatic is the opportunity? We've analyzed LinkedIn's mobile vs web visitor trends, taking a fresh look at dimensions of potential revenue growth.
1. Mobile outpacing web visit growth every day of the week. The chart below represents week-over-week growth for the week starting 2/5/12. The first day of the week, was Super Bowl Sunday. LinkedIn's visits that day were down double digits, though the same can be said for most websites. What's remarkable is that despite attention drawn by the Super Bowl, visits to LinkedIn on mobile devices actually grew.
2. Mobile's taking share from LinkedIn web visits in dramatic fashion on weekends. Freed from desktop computers, armed with iPhones or iPads, more and more members are tuning into LinkedIn. The chart below illustrates the percent of total visits to LinkedIn on a mobile device as a percent of total daily visitors. In addition to the notable penetration on weekends (green bars), note the increasing share taken on week days, as the week progresses.
3. The impact of increased share of visits on mobile devices, especially in later weekdays, is shown in our analysis of total web visitors by day of week. In the most recent month, have seen mixed changes in volume from week to week, but notice the flat to declining numbers in the recent 2 to 3 weeks for nearly every day.
4. By contrast, over the same period, visits to LinkedIn on mobile devices has grown in nearly every measure. Combine the web data above and mobile data in this chart, and it's clear: mobile is the growth engine for LinkedIn.
5. It's all about creating and providing the easiest path from customer engagement to what we call 'Buy Now.' It's about simplifying and improving the user experience to maximize:
- Engagement (breadth and depth of visit),
These are the metrics that matter, and LinkedIn's mobile performance lags on key measures.
In the end, So What? Lost revenue opportunity, that's what. How many mobile visitors exit before considering a premium account, because of a poor experience, or lack of an iPad app.
Sure the growth is solid now, but how long until a disappointing mobile user experience leads to declining retention and frequency?