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October 25, 2017 (Updated: March 2, 2020)
It’s been reported that 95 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and the ratio of traffic from mobile devices compared to computer traffic is still growing. You’ve heard it all the time in design, content marketing, and advertising: make it good for mobile. But what does good mobile content actually look like? In this guide, we’ll go over how to make content that not only is functional for mobile devices, but effectively draws and holds the attention of mobile users and encourages long-term brand recognition.
Image via Flickr by CAFNR
The first thing you’ll want to get right is making your content adaptable to all sorts of devices. If you’re posting articles to a blog or other web page, the very first goal is to choose and install a responsive theme. These themes are a bit more complicated than the free ones that come with WordPress, but the benefit is that they’re regularly updated to look right on all major mobile devices, from Android phones to iPads.
But then there’s all the little details regarding ease of use. Typing is more difficult on a mobile device than on a desktop computer or laptop, so things like sign-up forms should be as simple as possible, requiring only the minimum requisite information such as a name and email address. Links shouldn’t be too close to each other, to reduce the risk of someone tapping the wrong link by mistake and getting annoyed. You should also organize text to be more readable from a tiny screen, with more white space, bullet points, subheadings, bold text, etc.
Imagine you’re sitting with friends and telling a story, but suddenly you need to fact check something in order for the story to make sense. So you bring up your phone, tell everyone to wait a second, and start hurriedly typing in your question on your phone’s internet browser. Your goal is to get the answer as soon as possible, then throw your phone down and continue your evening. However, later on when you open your phone browser again, you’ll see the page where you got the answer once more and might give it more time.
This is how mobile content should be framed. Your reader is impatient and will likely not read all of your content at first, but will likely return later and give it more attention. Think about everything that would dissatisfy someone in this mindset, like aggressive pop-up ads, slow-loading pages due to excess content, etc. Everything from your homepage and content to e-commerce product pages should be optimized to load quickly. If you want to be really confident you’ve gotten it right, have someone else test it and give you their opinion on how to improve the experience.
App development is complicated, difficult, and generally takes longer than expected. However, considering how much most mobile users rely on apps more than web browsing, there’s significant potential, even for a free app that provides better access to your content. Apps aren’t great for generating new fans at first, but they do function as an ideal destination for people who have discovered your content and warmed up to it.
When a person isn’t familiar with your brand, they’re cold traffic, and these are the types of people you should drive to your other online content, such as the content on your website. But once people are familiar with you and would like more convenience, such as seeing your content without internet access, an app is just the thing you need to offer. Apps can build your collection of committed users and better establish your brand. Your biggest fans will see your app on their phone screen every day, and could recommend it to their friends.
There’s a definite advantage to more relaxed visual content, especially videos, as they can be watched without holding the device or moving anything. This isn’t to say you should abandon text. Downloadable e-books are particularly great, and easily allow users to customize their experience, such as raising the font size without impacting readability. You could also take a mixed media approach with your articles, adding video or infographic content whenever appropriate as an alternative or useful supplement to the text.
When creating content for mobile, think about how much less appealing it is to read on a small screen compared to looking at an interesting picture or watching a video. Keep the mobile mindset at top priority. Use vertical infographics that don’t ask the viewer to drag all over the screen to read them, and keep videos as short as possible while still delivering plenty of value.
Optimizing your content for mobile won’t matter very much if you aren’t able to draw many mobile visitors from their searches. At the most basic level, any form of data on what exclusively mobile visitors like and what draws their attention is helpful. If you can get analytics on exclusively your mobile audience and what they prefer and their behavior patterns, you can plan your future content with this data in mind. As mobile grows, you’ll be in the right position to keep your content popular.
Relying on social media is also wise, considering that almost 80 percent of social media time is mobile. Sharing content is pretty much just as easy on mobile as it is on a computer, and Google’s spider bots put a lot of weight into how much attention something gets on Facebook, Instagram, and other websites when factoring in whether it’s relevant for a search engine result page. Follow the flow of social media while also listening to the analytics of your mobile visitors, and the data within should build a perfect path to your next viral blog post.
Appealing to mobile users should be a top priority for most content marketing businesses. However, mobile is a completely different scenario for your viewers, and fundamentally the opposite of someone seated at their computer. If you approach the topic with this in mind, the puzzle pieces should come together and you’ll get a major boost in subscriptions, purchases, or whatever goals you drive people toward through your content. You’ll also be in good shape for the future by following the needs of the still-growing majority.
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