How to Keep Track of Mobile Devices That Access Your Website

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Mar 20

How to Keep Track of Mobile Devices That Access Your Website

Currently, US_Navy_110506-N-SP676-176_Mineman_3rd_Class_Matt_Miller_gives_children_his_smart_phone_to_play_withthere are more smart phone users than computer users who access the web with their devices.  By 2015, there will be 10 billion mobile devices using the internet.  Thirty percent more smart phones were sold compared to PCs in 2013. [1]  So, as you can see, the mobile internet devices are growing at a much greater rate than the personal computers.  This means that it is almost mandatory that you have some way to track these smart phones on your website if you want to attract customers from mobile devices.

(Image by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian A. Stone [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

The Need to Track Information

With the increasing popularity of smart phones there is a need to track information on website usage for smart phones.  The mobile analytics software analyzes the data information collected when mobile users access your website.  Like regular analytics software it analyzes the website to see which pages in the website are working well and which pages are not working very well.  The analytics software will also analyze your marketing campaigns to see how well the campaign is attracting visitors to the website.

The Problem with Tracking Smart Phones

The collection of analytics for smart phones is different than computers.  If you use a traditional analytic solution it does not always collect the correct statistics for smart phones.  This leads to the need for a specific type of analytics for smart phones and related devices.

The Solution that is Provided

“Data collected as part of mobile analytics typically includes traditional information such as page views, visits, visitors, countries, but additionally includes mobile specific information related to mobile device (model, manufacturer, screen resolution, possible ad-hoc grouping based on device capabilities such as smart phone), mobile network operator (carrier), and preferred user language.” [2]

Since smart phones use different browsers than a regular computer.  Regular analytics software collects data differently on a computer than on a smart phone.  Regular computers are tracked by IP address and smart phones do not have their own IP address so they have to be tracked in a different way.  The mobile web analytics software uses device information to track the usage of a cell phone on your website.  “The device information used (model, manufacturer, screen resolution) which can be usually assembled by combining device identification information taken from special HTTP headers (such as user-agent) with device capabilities stored in a device information registry.” [3]  Since mobile sites can be accessed by many different types of networks such as broadband, WIFI, Cellular and satellite there needs to be a way to track these devices accurately.  Mobile analytics is able to pick out the smart phones from all the other devices and analyze their usage of the website.

The Providers of the solution

I looked at several mobile analytics solutions. There are many more providers that are not listed.

Free mobile analytics solutions available

Paid mobile analytics software solutions

If you are new to mobile analytics software you may want to try several of the free and paid software solutions.  At least that will give you an idea of what you like and need in your analytics and what you don’t need.  Even the paid solutions offer a free trial period.  The free solutions offer good analysis of mobile traffic.  If you are still not sure which one to choose a good solution would be to try a free solution and see if that will work and if not then buy a solution that best fits your needs.  A large company may want to buy a solution that better fits their needs.  A good place to start looking would be this web site Real Time Web Analytics Tool Reviews and Guides. The site reviews some of the mobile web analytics software available.


  1. Real Time Web Analytics Tool Reviews and Guides, Idan, April 19, 2010,
  2. Lim, Jeen-Su; Heinrichs, John (2011-05-30). Handbook of Social Media Marketing: Five Principles of Online and Social Network Interactivity (Kindle Locations 3692-3698). . Kindle Edition.
  3. Photo is from Wikipedia Commons.

(All accolades and credit for this tremendous blog post are for Roy Garbacik who is the author and content creator.)

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