Once a year, I like to do a quick dive into some key mobile statistics that marketers should care about. We could easily explore more than 100 metrics. But as a fellow marketer, I know that nobody has time for that. Instead, I’ve looked at the 100-plus mobile statistics and distilled them down to the 13 that you need to know. How’s that for service?

Of course, statistics without any explanation also don’t help, so I’ve provided some color commentary around each to provide context around what the statistic means for marketers. If I were really doing my job, I would provide a recommendation for different segments like small business and B2B versus B2C. But you can’t get everything for free!

To help frame the opportunity, it’s important to take a step back and get a sense of things like world population and global Internet usage. As of the writing of this article, there are 7.3 billion people on the planet. The three most populated countries in the world are:

  • China – 1.4 billion
  • India – 1.28 billion
  • U.S. – 325 million

This will come into play when we look at global Internet and mobile adoption.

There are 3.13 billion global Internet users, according to the site Internet Live Stats. Note that “Internet” includes both desktop and mobile usage, which is why the numbers in China and India are so high. The top three countries contributing to this number in order are:

  • China – 641.6 million
  • U.S. – 279.8 million
  • India – 243.2 million

There is one driving force behind global Internet growth (nearly 43% of the world now has Internet access) and you guessed it, it is mobile.

Breaking It Down

So let’s start to dig into some mobile-specific data. For starters, there are 3.65 million unique global mobile users.

There are nearly double that number in mobile subscriptions worldwide (7 billion), but if I were to hazard a guess, I suspect that the distribution of those 7 billion is driven by the Pareto principle better known as the “80-20 rule.”

What this means is that 80% of the 3.4 billion subscriptions that aren’t attributed to individuals are probably owned by 20% of the population. My family, as a focus group of one, for instance, has seven subscriptions total — four smartphones and three iPads.

More important to know out of the billions of global mobile users and subscriptions is that 1.91 billion of those have smartphones.

eMarketer predicts that number will reach 2 billion by next year and that by 2018, half of the world’s mobile users will have a smartphone.

Currently, 500 million of these smartphones users are in the most populous country in the world (China).

The U.S. is a distant second at just under 200 million.

The reason this is important for marketers to know is that while SMS or text campaigns are still effective, they are the only way to connect with non-smartphone users (other than via voice call) on most feature phones. For developing countries, or those with low smartphone penetration, marketers should either consider using SMS or other more traditional marketing tactics.

So what are all those smartphone users doing? For one, they are spending a lot of time on social media. In fact, there are nearly as many active mobile social accounts in the world — 1.68 billion — as there are smartphones, according to a recent global digital snapshot published by We Are Social. This number is led by global phenomenon WeChat, with Facebook a close second.

And while organic social media activity has started to diminish in effectiveness for brands, paid social is more powerful than ever. This is a great way to target mobile users, especially the younger ones.

Don’t Forget Mobile Video

Mobile users worldwide are also watching mobile video at a greater clip than ever. In fact, mobile video accounted for 55% of mobile data usage by the end of 2014 (Cisco ‘15 Mobile Forecast).

With the rise of networks like Vine, Snapchat and Instagram (video), short-form video has taken the Millennial world by storm. But long-form video is still charging hard on both YouTube and Facebook, which is making a strong push to host video locally.

Due to the fact that 65% of the world’s population are visual learners, video — especially mobile video — is more critical than ever to capture customers’ attention.

As old-fashioned as search might seem to some, 80% of Internet users use smartphones to search the Web. A much smaller (but quickly growing) percentage — 9% — are using smartwatches to search.

As screen real estate gets smaller and smaller, what this requires marketers to do is think more strategically about organic and paid search (not to mention that Google recently put in place new rules that penalize non-mobile friendly sites on mobile search).

The Future Of Mobile Advertising

Last, but not least, there is still advertising to be done on mobile devices — and lots of it. In fact, according to eMarketer, mobile ad spend will top $100 billion worldwide by 2016.

The biggest issue is that mobile devices are considered so personal — the first thing we see when we wake up and the last thing we put down before sleep — that most attempts to “sell” feel that much more intrusive to customers.

Combine that with the ever-shrinking real estate on the screen, and it becomes very difficult to be successful.

There is another whole column to be written on this topic, but a few quick tips to consider are: 1) tap into paid social as suggested earlier, and 2) definitely leverage native advertising and in-app advertising as ways to reach target customers. More importantly, think about taking more of an educational approach versus one that is more sales-y.