My eight-year-old son recently asked me why the icons for “phone” look so weird. None of these images look like a phone to him:
Smartphones have already killed payphones and landlines. Now they’re poised to do the same to desktops and laptops. Google is already reporting more mobile searches than desktop searches. Desktop internet use has stagnated while mobile eats up an ever bigger share of our internet time.
It’s clear that the future of content consumption will increasingly be on mobile devices. There’s definitely still value in long-form content for users to settle in with on desktops. But your content strategy should include a healthy dose of mobile optimized content.
To fully take advantage of the opportunity, we need to understand how people use their mobile screens and alter our content accordingly.
Here are three big truths you need to know to create compelling mobile content.
#1: Your Audience Is in between Activities
People reach for their phones to fill a quick moment in time. They’re in the doctor’s office waiting room, or boiling water for pasta, or (let’s be honest) in the bathroom. Most people don’t pull out the phone thinking, “I’m going to settle in and read for an hour.” They’re planning on being interrupted.
Plan your content for someone who could put away their device at any time:
- Frontload the value. Don’t be coy or mysterious. Now is not the time to build tension for a big reveal later. The first few paragraphs should let the reader know what’s in it for them.
- Keep It Short. Jacob Baadsgaard at Disruptive Advertising did a fascinating experiment on content length. They found while mid-length content performed best on desktop, the shortest version of the same content performed best on mobile.
- Don’t be shy with the CTA. More likely than not, your mobile reader isn’t going to reach the end of your content. Embed your CTA early on in the text.
#2: Your Audience Is Extremely Restless
People on mobile phones are not renowned for their patience. Google reports that although the average mobile site loads in seven seconds, most users are ready to bolt after just two.
Even if your page loads in quickly, you have a drastically-reduced window of time to capture reader attention.
Show them your content is worth the investment:
- Include optimized, eye-catching images. Librestock is a good source for unique, royalty-free photos.
- Make your headline tweetable. Your headline should be as sharp and efficient as a well-crafted tweet. Give readers a what and why before they get to your copy.
- Avoid backscrolling. Give each section a header, and make sure each stands alone—your reader should be able to stop and come back hours later without having to reread.
#3: Your Audience Wants to Be Entertained
Even with the sum of human knowledge at our fingertips, mobile audiences are starved for entertainment. It’s what keeps us scrolling through Reddit or Buzzfeed, looking for a worthy distraction.
Multimedia can be a great way to differentiate your content and grab attention. There are plenty of ways to provide a more compelling experience on a limited budget.
Try these tools and techniques for engaging multimedia on mobile:
- Animated video. Turn your images into a slideshow with animated text. Programs like Ripl can create nifty video for free, with advanced options for a premium.
- Interactive Quizzes. Sites like Qzzr make it easy to create quizzes that are naturally optimized to look great on mobile. Qzzr also provides stats for the quiz’s creator, including number of times taken, time spent, completion rate, and more.
- Infographics. No discussion of compelling visuals would be complete without Canva. Their templates make it possible to make a scrollworthy infographic without having to get a design degree first.
Don’t Be a Payphone in a Smartphone World
The majority of your audience is looking for content on mobile. Serve them content that suits the medium: Lead with the value, don’t give them a reason to bounce, and try some engaging multimedia content.
Most of all, make sure your content leads to the next step. Because while mobile may account for 60% of online traffic, it contributes only 16% of purchases. A solid content marketing strategy can span devices and help guide your customer to a conversion.