Not long ago, I attended Digital Shoreditch and the Future Brands day. Apart from the inevitable cats and kittens, by far the biggest topic for discussion was the impact of mobile on content strategies in technology and tech-related industries. Without further ado, here are my top pointers for ensuring your business keeps pace with the mobile-first market - and a short explanation of why it matters in the first place.
Tipping point for mobile content
Smartphones started outshipping desktop devices 18 months ago (Q4 2011), and this year according to IDC it is expected that tablet devices will outship PCs for the first time. It is perhaps unsurprising then that the percentage of UK web pages accessed by mobile devices as opposed to desktops is growing rapidly. Twelve months ago, 10 per cent of UK page views were from a mobile device; today it is over 30 per cent. By the end of the year, we will have reached the tipping point and the majority of UK page views will be via a mobile device. You might be there already.
There were some great case studies demonstrating how some brands have successfully incorporated mobile into their campaigns. Amongst my favourites were Hijack, a campaign from a Guatemalan retailer which literally hijacked shoppers from competing stores; and kidrescueapp.com, a CSR campaign from Telefonica in Columbia.
Missing a trick with mobile
However, the overriding feeling was these examples are the exceptions and as a rule our industry is behind the curve when it comes to integrating mobile into communications campaigns. All too often mobile is an afterthought or a bolt-on when it comes to marketing programmes. Whilst a mobile-first content strategy (where content is designed first to be viewed on a small screen and built out from there) may not be for everyone, it is clear that mobile deserves greater consideration and here's why.
Why a mobile content strategy matters
People behave differently on mobile devices compared to desktop devices and content is consumed differently as a result. For instance, people are less likely to wait for a page to load and their attention spans are often much shorter in a mobile environment.
People also search differently. The searches performed are often more instant or last minute and are far more likely to include a location: 'Phones4U, Soho' being one example that comes to mind. In a campaign recently run for hibu UK, the firm was keen to point out that 85 per cent of UK smartphone users have searched for local information and 81 per cent of these took action as a result of their findings.
How to adapt your content strategy
It's relatively easy to discover how your audience may be behaving differently in a mobile environment. Thereafter, it's equally simple to think about incorporating these findings into your broader content strategy. Here are three things to look for:
- How is your audience finding you? Google's keyword tool lets you split searches into mobile only, desktop and all searches. It's worth reviewing the mobile only keywords to understand how audiences are searching via mobile devices. Once you've identified what the differences may be in how your audience is finding you and engaging with you on mobile, you can start to make decisions about how this may impact your programmes. Are these critical differences or tweaks?
- What content is your audience consuming? If your blog is central to your online content strategy, then perhaps you need to create mobile-friendly versions of blog posts that are shorter with shorter headlines?
- What channels are they finding you on? Mobile still requires a multi-platform approach. It isn't just about optimising your website. If video is a key driver, then there may be ways to improve this content for mobile, for example, ensuring any text incorporated in a video is still readable on a smaller screen.
Mobile offers so many more possibilities to engage target audiences with exciting content than simply recreating the desktop experience on a smaller screen. Mobile devices often have 30 plus features integrated in the device that can be incorporated to really engage with consumers - whether that's geo-location (as demonstrated in the Hijack and Kidrescueapp examples), camera, speakers, touch, tilt, vibrate or other functions that differentiate smartphones and tablets from traditional desktop PCs.
The bottom line is: more of your target audience is likely to find you via a mobile device, so it makes sense to create content that is easily found and consumed via mobile devices. Make the effort to accentuate the capabilities offered by these devices to offer a little bit more to your clients and customers - it will ultimately benefit your and your business, whatever that may be.
Helen Ellis (@helenellis) is a public relations consultant with 18 years' experience working with technology firms. She is currently a director at Atomic, a firm that pioneered the use of analytics in PR. In her spare time, she is developing a mobile app.