Are Your Customers Using Mobile to Go Online? Survey Says Yes -
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Are Your Customers Using Mobile to Go Online? Survey Says Yes
Attractive Happy Mixed Race Young Female Texting on Her Cell Phone Outside Laying in the Grass.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of cell phone owners use their phones to go online, the Pew Research Center’s  & American Life Project reports. Since 91 percent of Americans own cell phones, that means more than half (57 percent) of Americans go online using a mobile phone. In addition, 56 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone; among this group, a whopping 93 percent use their phones to go online.

Pew defined “going online” as either checking email or accessing the Internet and describes these users as “cell Internet users.” The percentage of cell Internet users has doubled since 2009. What types of consumers are most likely to use their phones to go online?

  • Young adults: Cell owners ages 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic group to be cell Internet users. 85 percent of them do so, compared with 73 percent of cell owners ages 30-49 and 51 percent of those ages 50-64.
  • Non-whites: Three-quarters (74 percent) of African-American cell phone owners are cell Internet users, as are 68 percent of Hispanic cell owners.
  • The college-educated: Three-quarters (74 percent) of cell owners with a college degree or higher are cell Internet users, along with two-thirds (67 percent) of those who have attended (but not graduated) college.
  • The financially well-off: Cell phone owners living in households with an annual income of $75,000 or more per year are significantly more likely than those in every other income category to go online using their phones.  Some 79 percent of these affluent cell owners do so.
  • Urban and suburban residents: Urban and suburban cell owners are significantly more likely to be cell Internet users than those living in rural areas.  Some 66 percent of urbanites and 65 percent of suburban-dwellers do so, compared to half of rural residents.

Just 22 percent of cell owners ages 65 and older go online from their phones, making this the least likely demographic group to be cell Internet users. However, cell owners aged 50-64 experienced a 15 percentage point increase in the past year. Over half (51 percent) of them are now cell Internet users, up from 36 percent in 2012.

There’s another important demographic to know about: the one-third (34 percent) of cell Internet users who primarily use their phone, as opposed to a desktop, laptop or tablet computer, to go online. This group, which Pew calls “cell-mostly Internet users,” accounts for 21 percent of the total cell owner population, and are more likely to be young, non-white, and have lower income and education levels than those that primarily access the Internet through other means.

  • Six in ten Hispanics and 43 percent of African-Americans are cell-mostly Internet users, compared with 27 percent of whites.
  • Half of cell Internet users aged 18-29 are cell-mostly Internet users.
  • 45 percent of cell Internet users with a high school diploma or less are cell-mostly Internet users, compared with 21 percent of those with a college degree.
  • 45 percent of cell Internet users with a household income under $30,000 are cell- users, compared with 27 percent of those with household incomes of $75,000 or more.

What do these stats mean to you? Clearly, cell Internet use is growing, so no matter what demographic/s your business targets, it’s crucial to make sure your website and marketing emails are mobile-optimized. However, if you target groups that are likely to be cell-mostly Internet users, this is even more important to making sure your customers can find you, interact with you and buy from you.

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Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
Rieva Lesonsky

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