How to Think Mobile-First for Your Content Marketing Strategy

How to Think Mobile-First for Your Content Marketing Strategy

Ninety-one percent of mobile users exit a site or an app if it fails to satisfy an immediate need, meaning all of your carefully-crafted content may sit dormant if mobile users deem it irrelevant.

And even if your organization – for whatever reason – is only interested in desk-bound engagement, you should know that desktop journeys are increasingly beginning with mobile. In 2013, Google and Nielson confirmed 77 percent of mobile searches were initiated at home or at work – where desktops are readily available.

So – whether your content is B2B and B2C – if you are not thinking “mobile-first” in your content strategy, you’re likely missing out.

What is “mobile-first”?

A mobile-first content marketing strategy is built around the understanding that initial engagement likely begins with a handheld device. As a result, mobile must be treated as a first step in the content planning – not as an afterthought.

As has been repeated many times, 2014 marked a watershed year: it was the first year mobile searches surpassed those sparked at a desktop. Now, consider these more recent findings:

  • Eighty-seven percent of millennials, the largest demographic in the U.S., keep their smartphones at their side 24/7.
  • Eighty-two percent of all smart-phone users say they consult their phones before making a purchase.
  • Ninety percent of smart-phone users are brand-neutral when they begin a search.
  • Fifty-one percent of users have discovered new companies and products thanks to mobile.

The world is now mobile-oriented and effective content requires similar orientation.

Mobile must be treated as a first step in the #contentmarketing planning – not an afterthought. Click To Tweet

The goal of mobile-first is to ensure you are leveraging every mobile opportunity to engage customers. The intent should be to “be there” when they reach for trusty device to answer a question – whatever the question.

Weaving Mobile-First into Your Content Strategy

The goal of content marketing is to provide consumers with useful information. That doesn’t change when factoring mobile into the equation.

What has changed is how you engage your audience while they use their phones and tablets. What do you want their mobile experience to look like? What are you hoping to achieve? You want them to connect with your content, but is a blog post or detailed infographic the best way to do that? Or would a quick social prompt or a short informational video be more valuable? (Videos are especially popular with mobile. Home Depot reports its “How-To” video library has been watched by 45 million viewers, and most of that traffic is attributed to mobile.)

Home Depot Video Library

Auditing Your Current Mobile Interaction

Begin your “mobile first” planning by auditing your site data. Comb through the information with an eye on mobile traffic. Ask

  • Where is it coming from?
  • Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, or other social sites?
  • How much time does a mobile visitor spend on your site? (How does this compare to desktop traffic?)
  • Which pages capture their attention?
  • Does one specific page standout?
  • What action is taken?

Answers to these questions reveal a lot about your current mobile engagement and should shape next steps.

Next, search for discrepancies, drop offs, or poor performing content specific to mobile users. Compare this to desktop traffic (but be aware that mobile engagement is innately more fleeting).

Below is a Google Analytics screenshot documenting one site’s mobile, desktop and tablet traffic. Look at the three columns under “Behavior.” As you can see, the differences are minimal (confirming the site is properly optimized for mobile). The only significant difference is the shortened period for mobile users (45 seconds versus 65 seconds), but this confirms what has already been mentioned: mobile users don’t hang around for long.

Google Analytics Example

If you want to perform a mobile audit for your own site, visit your Google Analytics page. On the left-hand menu, click Audience, then Mobile, then Overview. Look for discrepancies between the mobile and desktop metrics. For example, if pages-per-session are low for mobile, it might indicate navigation issues on your mobile site. If the mobile bounce rate is high compared to desktop, it may be indicative of a visually unappealing mobile experience, such as small text, minuscule buttons, or other issues.

Content Creation and Measurement for Mobile

Once you have a better understanding of how mobile users traverse your site, you can make more informed decisions about creating content with them in mind. Your mobile customers are seeking answers. They want information. You want you to give them what they need, when they need it.

Specific needs differ depending on your industry, product or services. Website analytics will reveal what your customers want to know. Armed with this data, ask yourself what mobile-friendly ways are there to lead your customers to the answers they seek.

#Mobile customers are seeking answers. They want information. Give them what they need, when they need it. Click To Tweet

Consider these successful, mobile-first strategies, courtesy of Google’s research:

  • Progressive Insurance used its website data to determine customers really wanted the ability to file mobile claims easier. Acting on this, Progressive developed a mobile-friendly claims procedure consisting of seven steps (down from 24). Mobile claims went up 35%.

Progressive Insurance Mobile Friendly

  • In 2014, Walmart reported increased sales conversions by simply making its website mobile-friendly by introducing four-second load-times (instead of seven seconds).
  • Long-form content still has a place: Buffer, a social media scheduling app, uses mobile notifications to incite interest in blogs that average 2,200 words. One such lengthy 2014 article was shared more than 30,000 times across Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Getting Started

Still unconvinced? Last year, venture capitalist (and Silicon Valley all-star) Mary Meeker compiled an in-depth internet trends report confirming the average American adult spends nearly six hours a day on the internet (up from nearly three hours in 2008). The big shift, she said, was mobile migration: In 2008, most of those three hours were desk-bound. Now, half of online time is mobile time. The message is clear, said Meeker: “The shift from using the Internet a few times a day for long sessions to many times a day for short sessions will have profound impact on what we consume. Bite-sized content and experiences are becoming favorable.”

The goal of content marketers remains the same, but mobile must be factored in. Your customers still need edification. However, you may need to think “bite-size,” at least in part.

Before developing any content, visit your site using a mobile device. Put yourself in the place of your customers. Does your website render correctly and quickly? Are you answering questions effectively? If you rely on lengthy blogs, what’s the best to tell your mobile customers the blog is there?

Answering these questions early in the development of your content will transform your approach to mobile-first. Your customers will thank you. And they may return the favor with their business and loyalty.

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Jeff Hinkle

Jeff Hinkle is a Senior Editor with Vertical Measures. Formerly, he worked in corporate communications and marketing, focused on cybersecurity, data analytics, financial services and investing. Prior to joining corporate America, he worked for an array of newspapers and magazines, covering Indian Country, politics, A&E, crime and punishment as an award-winning reporter and editor.