2014 was the first year in history that saw mobile internet usage exceed that of a PC. Overall, people now spend more time interacting with apps and surfing the web via phone than they do in front of their computer.
And websites are starting to take notice.
Why mobile matters
On April 21, 2015, the world’s biggest search engine released a long-awaited, mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. Dubbed ‘The Mobilegeddon’ by anxious webmasters everywhere, the update promised to discriminate against websites improperly optimised for the small screen, by ostracising them from the mobile search results.
Hundreds of thousands of sites were affected, and it was back to the drawing board for most SEO experts. Not long after that, Google also announced that more than half of its searches worldwide now occur on mobile.
By all accounts, mobile content consumption is not just here to stay – it’s taking over. And the longer you ignore the smartphone as your website’s next biggest traffic channel, the harder it will be to get it right.
With that in mind, here are the four key steps to a comprehensive mobile content marketing strategy:
1. Start with mobile
The traditional approach to content creation is to write, build or design for the PC user first, and adapt the end result to other formats and traffic sources. No longer is this a viable content strategy.
As people turn to smaller devices for most of their online experience, it’s not enough to just repackage the original content and oversimplify the layout. Instead, rather than viewing it as just a separate traffic channel, you should begin all your content marketing efforts with the mobile user in mind.
If you’re a blogger, that might mean keeping your text, visuals and interactive content as minimalistic as possible, and expanding your initial idea on the bigger screen – rather than the other way round. Either way, considering all content channels before actually creating content is the first step to getting your message across wherever it’s read.
2. Contextualise the mobile experience
People don’t use their phones the way they use their computers. So why are you still treating both mediums the same?
To maximise the content’s reach, you need to understand the way your mobile audience discovers and absorbs information. The more familiar you are with their consumption habits, the easier it becomes to create content that hits home.
To that end, it’s important to learn how smartphone users interact with your own site in particular. You can use that data to develop mobile customer personas and come up with specific strategies for addressing their needs.
Google Analytics hosts a wide variety of stats dedicated to mobile users. These metrics help you answer a whole slew of questions crucial for your multi-channel content strategy.
By segmenting the top landing pages by traffic source, you can see which of your previous content worked best on mobile, and what sorts of keywords are in high demand. If the bounce rates are significantly higher for mobile users, it might mean they’re having issues finding exactly what they want on your site.
Furthermore, if the stats show most of your mobile users spend less time or interact less with long-form articles, it’s worth experimenting with shorter content or breaking the post down into bite-sized pieces. If certain campaigns worked better on a desktop than mobile, there’s likely a way to optimise your call to action for avid smartphone users.
Other than raw data, targeted surveys and one-on-one interviews can also prove invaluable in understanding your mobile audience. Either way, the worst thing you can do is create a cross-platform content strategy in a vacuum.
3. Be Responsive
One of the newest buzzwords on the block, responsive design refers to a website that automatically scales itself to various resolutions and relevant screen sizes. There are four basic screen sizes you need to consider adapting your content for – desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.
Creating a website that works equally well on all devices is no longer an optional feature. Customers have come to expect a consistent browsing experience at all times, making a mobile-responsive site a necessary expense for any industry newcomer.
Other than adapting to different screen sizes, being responsive might also include using fewer images and multimedia content (both due to less screen space and loading speed), trimming or segmenting your text, and introducing various features native to mobile devices, such as location-based notifications and click-to-call buttons.
Creating a mobile-responsive site is also about predicting the user’s needs and catering to them in the most effective way possible.
For example, there’s an implied difference in intent between browsing a restaurant website via phone and PC. A desktop user is more likely to be comparing offers and collecting information and would be more receptive to fancy dish slideshows and a comprehensive rundown of ingredients. A mobile user, on the other hand, is probably more concerned with your location, working hours, pricing and contact details. It’s your job to provide personalised and hyper-relevant content to both user hubs.
4. Optimise your content
Mobile copywriting is still considered somewhat of a dirty word in content marketing. While smartphone users also enjoy long-form articles and in-depth exposes, there’s undoubtedly a material difference in how they like to consume their content.
For one, you should try to be as conservative with your in-text images as possible. There’s only so much information that can be effectively presented on a 7-inch screen, without detracting from the post’s primary message.
Same goes for your text. Longer pieces are still very much appropriate in the mobile era, but they do need to adapt to the medium. That means reduced paragraphs, shorter headlines, and cutting down on any unnecessary or redundant points. You wouldn’t write in page-wide paragraphs for desktop monitors either, now would you?
Finally, make sure your call to action is big, clearly visible and ‘tappable’. In their transition to mobile, too many websites forget to effectively rescale their CTA button, making it too small or impossible to activate. While everything else needs to adapt and shrink to size, your CTA should still very much dominate any screen.