Lenovo forecasts its global mobile revenue to reach $45 million in 2016. An executive for the electronics giant discusses mobile marketing, sales and shopping behaviors across regions.

When Andrew Flanagan, executive director of UX and design for Lenovo Group Ltd., examines his company’s online traffic, he pays close attention to first-time visits. That is, how a shopper first connects with Lenovo via the web.

“We want to understand where people start their journey with us,” Flanagan says. “That is critical to get right.” And a good portion of consumers, particularly global consumers, first visit the electronics manufacturer and retailer online via a mobile device, says Flanagan, who previously served as global lead for digital marketing at Lenovo. For example, in Europe 25.3% total visits were from mobile (smartphone and tablet) in June and 33.2% of first-time visitors hailed from mobile devices. In Latin America 16.0% of total visits stemmed from mobile devices last month and 29.6% of first-time visitors were on mobile.

Looking at all visits globally, 20.2% of total visits stem from mobile and 20.7% of first-time visitors came from mobile devices.

“We are seeing more visitors first reaching us through mobile, but when it gets to [purchases of] $500 and over they a lot of times are over switching over to desktop,” Flanagan says. Lenovo, No. 16 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, says its average mobile ticket size is $700.

Still, that first interaction could very well be the start of a long-term, valuable relationship. Therefore, Lenovo is investing time and resources to reach the increasingly mobile consumers around the world by getting local help and by launching region-specific mobile campaigns.  


In India, Flanagan says flash sales work especially well on mobile when combined with big-name celebrities and social networks. For example, Lenovo recently worked with local marketing and advertising agencies to launch a campaign with Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor to promote the Lenovo A6000 and K3 Note smartphones via flash sales events featured on six social networks including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for six hours each. The phones sold out in hours and Lenovo moved 50,000-60,000 units of each device, Flanagan says. As the social networks mainly attract mobile visitors, Flanagan says, 70-80% of the sales from the campaign stemmed from mobile engagement.   

The sale also provided other benefits beyond revenue. For example, Lenovo offered a finite number of each device that it already had in its warehouse, enabling it to move product already on hand, speeding delivery time and eliminating the need to have more units delivered to its shipping facilities. The superstar power behind the campaign also generated significant buzz and helped Lenovo get more shoppers to register on its site, even if consumers missed the promotion.  

“You might get 50,000 or 60,000 orders but you can get 500,000 new registrants,” Flanagan says.

Lenovo, which is projecting its 2016 global mobile sales to reach $45 million, up 12.5% from $40 million in 2015, says mobile traffic increased about 15% year over year in 2015. Lenovo, a Chinese company that acquired IBM’s personal computer business in 2004, lists its corporate headquarters as being in Beijing and Morrisville, N.C.

A chunk of Lenovo’s traffic and sales hail from Europe, where Lenovo has also recently invested in mobile marketing and advertising. In Germany, Lenovo was able to increase its click-through rate for mobile ads from 9% on average to 15% using London-based mobile advertising vendor Ogury, which delivers targeted ads based on a mobile shopper’s browser and search history. While many mobile retargeting advertising shops rely on mobile web behavior, Ogury has deals with apps to access consumer history on Android devices, allowing brands to use data that is often hard to obtain. It then displays targeted ads based on the data it compiles, and some of those ads change with the data. For example, an ad might say 86% of consumers loved the Lenovo K3 Note smartphone based on what it knows about that particular consumer, with the product highlighted and percent varying based on the consumer it obtains.


“It was very successful for a Germany campaign, considering that this market is typically not receptive to intrusive or disruptive advertising and formats,” Flanagan says. “The qualified ads worked because it was relevant to them.”

Also in Germany, Lenovo worked with video media buying company TubeMogul to display targeted pre-roll video ads on news, sports and other media sites before consumers could view content. What Flanagan especially like about TubeMogul was that he could turn on and off media outlets himself based on their performance. “The ads performed better on mobile than on desktop and on average cost only about 2 cents per completed view on mobile,” he says. Videos from other platforms can be up to four times more expensive, Flanagan says.

The videos with TubeMogul also generated 50% completion rates, meaning the consumer finished watching the video. Completion rates are 20% to 25% lower on other platforms and do not have the same degree of targeting, he says. A recent campaign generated about 10 million views costing about $200,000.

When it comes to branding, Lenovo develops a global theme and works with local agencies or its own teams in local markets to tweak it to fit cultural preferences.

“For example, we worked with Vice Media in Europe, which has a very European flair, for our latest #GoodWeird video content,” Flanagan says. The campaign highlighted its Yoga devices, including PCs and tablets in the new marketing campaign. Appropriately named, #Goodweird illustrates how Yoga products embrace unexpected design and functionality—design that’s arguably weird, but, as Lenovo says, in a good way because of the things these products enable people to do. 


Globally, Lenovo logs about 1.5 billion total visits to its hybrid responsive design site—that includes desktop, smartphone and tablet visits—which allows consumers to shop in 28 languages. The hybrid responsive site, which Lenovo manages in-house, uses one code base for desktop and mobile and automatically tailors the look of the website to the device the consumer is using. It’s an update to the earlier iteration of responsive design because it enables a retailer’s servers to detect what kind of device is requesting a web page and then only sends what is necessary to build the page on that type of device. The original version of responsive design, also known as pure responsive, bundles everything needed to create a web page on desktops and tablets and smartphones and jams it all into one jumbo data package. Sending so much data through the wireless pipes often leads to sluggish load time on mobile.

And a speedy, easy-to-use mobile site is a priority for Lenovo today. In fact, mobile comes first in design, Flanagan says.

“We stared responsive design three or four years ago. But most recently we’ve developed a mobile-first approach,” Flanagan says. “When it comes to web operations, web design and developing content, we are starting with [how content renders on] mobile first. And when it comes to digital marketing, more people consume content on mobile, so we are mobile first there too.”

In that vein, Lenovo uses vendor Perfecto Mobile Ltd to simulate how potential designs will work across smartphones based on factors like a phone’s user interface, processor and memory.

“We try to never underestimate how personal the mobile phone is to an individual and the absolute power that resides in it,” Flanagan says. “We try to think about that value exchange. [Shoppers] are letting you into their phones and so we try to make sure to provide something meaningful and valuable in return.”