How To Create Mobile-only Content (And Why You Should Bother)
More than 50 per cent of all online content is now consumed on mobile devices. As this number continues to grow, it’s no longer enough for marketers to have a mobile-first approach and a responsive website.
Consider the fact that, according to Google, a mobile-only site with no desktop counterpart is acceptable – but a desktop site with no mobile version will be heavily penalised. As author Jayson DeMers said in this article from Forbes: “It’s clear what side of the fence Google’s on; they’re banking on desktop traffic fading away, meaning the smart money rests on mobile-focused online marketing.”
As a result, 2016 will see brands creating more content specifically for mobile users. If you don’t want to get left behind, it’s worth looking at your own site traffic to see how many of your visitors are using mobile devices. If there’s a large percentage, mobile-only content should be considered a crucial part of your strategy.
As more content is being consumed on mobile, the way we use our devices is changing. While people are still using their smartphones on-the-go, to consume bite-sized content, the Harvard Business Review estimates 68 per cent of smartphone use happens at home. Your customers are using their mobiles to read long-form articles and blogs, stream TV shows and music, search for entertainment on long commutes and conduct research for work. But this doesn’t mean they want to see exactly the same content they’d consume on their desktop.
Mobile is no longer about devices; it needs to be thought of as a type of behaviour. When we engage with content on our phones we’re swiping and tapping, switching between apps and being interrupted by notifications. To truly engage mobile users, everything about the customer experience should reflect this behaviour: content has to be hyper relevant, easy to navigate and customisable. Last year, Facebook introduced ‘Instant Articles’, becoming one of the first brands to recognise how its customers were using mobile to read content. The new format includes interactive features like zooming in and tilting to see high-res photos, as well as faster load times and auto-play videos.
For businesses with growing mobile traffic, it’s no longer enough to use the same content in a responsive design. So how can you start creating flexible content that’s designed specifically for mobile users?
- Make it customisable
Create content that people can engage with quickly when they’re on-the-go, but expand to see more of when they have the time. Use headings and sub-headings to break up text and cut out large visuals that use up bandwidth. Most importantly, make it easy to swipe or tap to see the full article or find more relevant information – don’t include everything in the one place. Highlight important facts, quotes or insights that you want people to remember.
- Understand motivation
Google’s senior VP of ads and commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, says smartphones are often used for micro-moments. These are the “I want-to-know moments, I want-to-go moments, I want-to-do moments, and I want-to-buy moments”, when people turn to their mobile devices in the hope of immediately finding, learning or purchasing something. In these micro-moments, people aren’t looking for 2000-word articles or research reports. They’re looking for an answer to a question or a quick snapshot of a topic. Introduce all your mobile content with an overview that includes the main points. This will give customers the information they need and the option to read the rest of the content later.
- Branch out into apps
One of the best ways to target mobile users is by expanding into spaces that are unique to mobile devices, like apps. A study by eMarketer found that time spent in mobile apps outpaces browsing by almost 10 times. If your brand doesn’t have its own app, consider the ones that are most relevant to your brand. If you have a millennial audience, creating content specifically for Snapchat and Instagram could be a valuable part of a mobile strategy. If not, try incorporating other native mobile functions like SMS. For example, if a lot of your blog readers are using mobile devices, include an SMS option for blog notifications rather than just email updates.
- Join the video bandwagon
Video is king when it comes to mobile. It’s estimated that online video now accounts for 50 per cent of mobile traffic. It’s not just short videos, either – 36 per cent of smartphone users watch long-form videos of 5 minutes or more. Creating mobile optimised videos is a great way of reusing some of your written content and creating something new out of it for a mobile audience. If you have an e-book or blog post that explains a concept in a series of steps, you can create a video where you talk the user through it by using animation or engaging visuals.
- Segment your emails
Email is alive and well, and marketers are recognising the growing value of this channel. But you may not have realised that the majority of emails are actually opened on mobile devices. If a lot of your subscribers are reading your emails on their phones, consider segmenting your list by device and creating mobile-specific emails. Make these emails less text-heavy, with links and call-to-action buttons that are easy to interact with using the tap of a finger. Draw some inspiration from this Vodafone example. The responsive design only includes certain information and visuals for mobile users, making sure the screen isn’t crowded and users can easily engage with the content.
While it might not make sense for your business to start investing in mobile-only content just yet, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on your mobile traffic. Most importantly, consider whether you’re providing the best experience for your customers, no matter what device they’re using. Start by thinking of ways to create content for a mobile audience, even if it’s simply by breaking up text and removing images that will slow down load times. If the experience with your content is relevant, engaging and accessible on every device, your customers are highly likely to come back for more.