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The discussion around mobile optimization tends to surround the technical aspects of the web experience. Experts discuss tips like reducing bulky code or using tag managers instead of firing dozens of pixels to make it easier for users to load your pages. However, there is a soft side to mobile optimization: content development. The type and style of the content you create will affect how it is received via mobile. If you’re still creating the same desktop-style content you were five years ago, then your mobile audience is going to tune you out.
It’s time to refresh your content marketing with a quality mobile experience. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your mobile content and connect with users who access your pages from their smartphone devices.
Image via Flickr by Jhaymesisviphotography
User eye tracking has become an invaluable tool for helping marketers understand why customers behave a certain way when they land on a web page. Over the past few years, industry leaders have changed their best practices to account for mobile user behavior.
DreamGrow reports that 86 percent of users’ attention spans the top two-thirds of a mobile screen. The majority of your audiences are focusing on the top of their phones and will only glance at the bottom on occasion. This isn’t a problem for most content creators, as audiences will eventually get to the bottom content as they scroll, but it can affect your web design. If you place your call to action or buy/share buttons in the bottom third, then your audience might miss or ignore them entirely.
Additionally, mobile users tend to approach content in an F-shape pattern. They start at the top left and read across the screen, only to drop down and repeat until they reach the bottom. They approach your website not unlike how most people read books.
Knowing how your audiences consume your website content and what elements their eyes favor the most can help you design promotions and calls to action that effectively generate leads and boost traffic.
Writing for mobile-friendly audiences means changing the structure of your online posts to match audience behavior and needs.
Neil Patel suggests following the bite, snack, meal approach to creating content. Your “bite,” is your headline. It conveys information that readers can glean even if they don’t click on your content. Your “snack,” is a brief summary at the top, either in paragraph form or bullets to cover the highlights of the information. Even if your readers only enjoy your snack, they should get the gist of your content. Finally, your “meal,” is the full body. This covers your in-depth analysis, quotes, and backstory.
The Daily Mail is a great example of this format. Their headlines are known for being long. They start every article with a handful of bullet highlights and then focus on the actual article.
This process works to entice readers to engage with your content. The headline might lure them in, but the snack sells them on the value of reading the whole meal. Even if your readers bounce after reading the snack, they are likely to come back to your blog because they know they can get the highlights before committing to actual content.
Even when audiences are settling in to read the whole “meal,” you want your content to be scannable. Mobile devices offer dozens of distractions for readers in the form of texts, notifications, and alerts. The last thing you want is for your beautiful content to get ignored because of a pop-up text from Chipotle.
Furthermore, audiences rarely read content to completion, especially on mobile devices. You want to share the highlights throughout your content to keep users engaged in what you have to say.
Focus on short, digestible paragraphs that people can scan to understand where the content is going. You might highlight a significant quote or add a chart to emphasize your point. All of these steps work to keep readers focused longer on what you have to say, giving you more time to provide value or sell them on your brand.
Marketers tend to get caught in metrics, relying on a few specific data points to measure their success. While your statistics are important and can highlight whether there’s a problem with your content or website, you should focus on creating a positive experience that keeps readers highly engaged.
Forbes provides a great example of what not to do. They often share online slideshows listing out professional tips for readers. Rather than creating a positive online experience that allows readers to quickly flip through the content, they develop their website so a new page loads every single time a user wants to move to the next item on the list. This takes time and can be incredibly annoying for readers.
In the data, it may look like users are loading an average of 10 pages per visit and spending several minutes engaging with the content. However, this is not a positive experience. Audiences would be happier and respond better if they could scroll through the list on a single page.
Don’t chase vanity metrics with your content. Focus on creating something of value.
You can find dozens of resources and studies that break down how audiences consume mobile content. MarketingLand curated a list of charts breaking down demographics, top websites, mobile use, and consumer behavior. This information, along with other research, can certainly guide your marketing decisions, but the best data is always first-person data.
Tap into Google Analytics and WordPress to learn how your audiences react to your website content. You might use these tools to answer questions about demographics and buying behavior to see how your customers differ from standard research.
For example, despite research showing that seniors are less mobile-confident than other demographics, you may discover that your older customers are incredibly savvy and prefer to access your content from their mobile devices. Instead of shying away from mobile because of industry research, you can make decisions based on your own customers’ behavior and directly address their needs.
If you have based your strategy off of “best practices” without consulting your own base first, you might not see the promised results because your audience strays from what is expected.
However, smartphones have changed. Most mobile devices can handle images and load them quickly onto the page. With the right website development, you shouldn’t have to worry about slow speeds or gaps in your content with an unloaded image. Now is the time, more than ever, to start using images heavily in your content.
AdEspresso shared some interesting data on the value of images online. Two-thirds of all content shared on social media is visual, and 62 percent of internet users prefer to share social media posts on mobile devices. Your audiences love visual content. It’s what they turn to in their spare time and how they communicate with their friends. If you want to form an emotional connection and engage users who visit your website, you can win them over with high-quality photos, charts, and illustrations.
In fact, as you develop your graphic content strategy, you may decide your best bet is to create mobile-first infographics and interactives.
The same research from AdEspresso found that only 27 percent of internet users prefer to engage with interactive experiences on mobile devices. This aligns with 22 percent for infographics and 17 percent for slideshows. It’s not that audiences really enjoy looking at infographics on their desktops, but rather that infographics often aren’t created for mobile devices.
When audiences look at desktop-first infographic content, they’re often left pinching and unpinching, scrolling, and squinting to see what each part says. If the content is particularly unwieldy, then they might not know how to get back to the main screen or leave the image. Since so many graphics aren’t mobile-responsive, smartphone users often just skip over them.
If you can create mobile-first graphics, then you’re ahead of the game. Your audiences are more likely to share your content (remember how popular social media is on mobile) and will appreciate your mobile design. Plus, it means you’re not investing time and effort to create graphics that isolate half of your total audience.
Making mobile content doesn’t just mean creating an engaging design that’s highly social. It means adjusting your content strategy to meet the changing needs of your audience. Start with small graphics and expand into mobile-friendly interactives.
If you’re ready to add more visual elements to your mobile experience, contact CopyPress. We specialize in creating content for mobile and can build a marketing plan around your unique sales and traffic goals.