Content marketers, have you caught up with the mobile mind shift? Smartphones and tablets are everywhere and they are changing consumer behavior in a way that has major implications for marketers. If you haven’t done so yet, you need to start a mobile content marketing strategy straightaway.
Salesforce‘s Laura Fagan says “people are increasingly choosing to surf the web, not with a laptop or desktop, but via their smartphones or tablets, or both.” That’s what the mobile mind shift is all about. According to Forrester it’s “the expectation that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at your moment of need”. In other words, your customers expect you to provide the information they want, when they want it, in any way they choose to access it.
Some marketers are already aware of the change. Statistics from the CMO Council show that B2B marketers are spending more than 25% of their budgets on developing, delivering and promoting content, some of which is accessible to mobile device users.
Sorry, but accessibility alone is not enough.
To grab readers’ and consumers’ attention and keep it, content needs to be adapted and optimized for the platforms they are using. That means addressing issues like the ones listed below.
There’s nothing worse for mobile device users than trying to access a layout created for desktop users – it’s just plain frustrating. Content marketers have two ways to fix this. An easy option is to ensure that your content has a responsive design, so it resizes automatically depending on the device being used. That’s a good first step, but even better is an adaptive design which produces a page suitable for each type of device and size of screen. This will give readers a positive impression when they access your content no matter what device they are using.
Enabled for Touch
Beyond resizing to fit the screen, it’s even more important to fix the user experience (UX) by having a user interface specifically designed for mobile. People don’t use smart phones and tablets the same way as a desktop computer. Smart phones and tablets have a touch interface so optimize your content so that users can interact with it by swiping and tapping. RSS reader Feedly is an example of a good mobile interface, using swipes, taps and long presses in the mobile app to replace the clicks used in the web/desktop version. Don’t forget to use big buttons (so people don’t press the wrong one by mistake), and links to help users phone the business, find your social profiles and access the non mobile site.
What Happens on the Desktop Stays on the Desktop
No matter which way you look at it, you won’t be able to fit everything in the same place when a site is optimized for mobile as on a desktop site. Rather than leaving it to chance, marketers need to think about this. Eliminate hard to use drop down menus in favor of scannable pages and a useful and visible search box. Pop-ups highlighting your latest offer or hovering social sharing bars take up only a small space on a desktop machine, but can completely obliterate your content on a smart phone screen, something that sends users away fast.
Sharing, Forms and Technology
Speaking of sharing, it’s best to put social sharing buttons and links at the start AND end of your content – if phone users have to scroll back through multiple screens just to share, they probably won’t bother. Other interface annoyances for mobile device users are scrolling to fill out forms – most users won’t stick around to do it. If you need to capture leads via mobile, grabbing name and email alone might have to be enough, or you can design your form to take voice input, which most modern devices can handle. Check out some tips from Smashing Magazine on modern form design and mobile UX. And as for Flash, don’t do it. Just don’t. As Occupy Flash points out, it’s an outdated technology which many devices don’t support, so it’s best avoided.
Can They Read It?
One issue for content marketers to consider is the legibility of the content they are providing. There are two aspects of this. First, it’s important to make sure that the main site content is readable by most people. When print is too small, some readers won’t bother to pinch and zoom to enlarge text; they will just go elsewhere. The second issue is PDF downloads. What works on a desktop won’t work on a smartphone, especially those with the smallest screens. Again, it’s better to have a document that is formatted with small screens in mind to ensure a better experience for your readers.
No matter what device they are browsing on, readers value being able to find the information they most need easily (see this research from Hubspot). This is even more true of mobile users. Many of them are using their devices for product research and other information they can act on immediately, like where the nearest store is to pick up their purchase or how to contact your business. You need to provide this or they will go elsewhere. And serving up content that takes account of location and other preferences, for those who are using those features, will make your brand seem even more relevant.
Solving the Problem Without Pain
If you’re a content marketer, you might think that all of this talk about mobile interfaces is taking you away from your main job of providing great content for web users and readers. It doesn’t have to.
How can you keep everyone happy and publish content that works across all devices, optimized and adapted so that users have a positive experience whichever way they access your site and your content? That’s where we come in: you provide the content, we provide the platform; everyone wins.
How has your content marketing strategy changed to take account of mobile device users?