As more content is consumed over smartphones, ensuring your audience’s mobile experience is optimised is now an essential aspect of your content marketing strategy.
This was underlined recently with Google’s announcement of its latest algorithm, which takes into account a site’s mobile-friendliness in determining mobile search rankings. More than half of all emails are opened on a mobile phone or tablet, and mobile search is expected soon to surpass desktop search, if it hasn’t already. Google Analytics gives you hard numbers on what devices are being used to view your content, and you can be sure that mobile will continue to capture a larger and larger share. With the aid of social media, content consumption over mobile channels is skyrocketing, with 60% of social media time happening on smartphones and tablets.
What’s more, the UAE market is one of the most technologically advanced in the region in terms of both online penetration rates and smartphone ownership. It’s reported that over 90% of people in the country own a smartphone. Mobile optimisation really matters in this region.
It’s important, then, to think carefully about what matters when writing for your mobile reader. So let’s take a look at five things you can do to help.
1. Crisp, informative, shorter elements
Mobile readers are often on the go or in a very public place, and easily distracted by what’s going on around them. The more clearly you can convey information, the easier it will be on them. Headlines should be short and crisp, and communicate without ambiguity what the article is about. Paragraphs should contain complete thoughts that are easily digestible.
2. Cover the important stuff up front
Stats tell us that about 70% of readers never make it past the headline. If you are lucky enough to get your reader past this first element, you’ll want to encourage them to stay. Front-load your key material, in a way that gives the reader an overview of the article and its key takeaways.
This is especially important for the smartphone reader who, unlike the desktop reader, doesn’t see many paragraphs or even sub-headings at a single glance. Unlike the desktop user, the mobile reader may only see two or three paragraphs. So make those first few paragraphs count.
3. A clear and logical structure
We are now all scanners and skimmers, and it’s a habit for many people to quickly scroll through an article before deciding if they want to spend more time on it; especially smartphone readers, who will jump on to the next piece of content as soon as they lose interest or fail to grasp the value of what they are currently viewing.
The structure of your articles – including headline, sub-headings and images – will help your reader decide if it is worth sticking around. If after a quick scan I can’t get an appreciation of what it’s all about and what I am likely to learn, I will probably move on.
4. Don’t use pop-ups
This may be not an editorial consideration as such but, please, no pop-ups in mobile. They’re bad enough on a desktop, but on a smartphone you are really testing my loyalty. Many companies use pop-up signup forms to grow their email lists, and results show it can be pretty effective. But they certainly have no place in content for smartphones, where they are often difficult to close.
5. Give them great writing
The best mobile optimisation in the world won’t drive engagement if your articles are not written to a high standard. You need good writers, ones who understand how to use research, logic, style, structure and language to create a good experience for the reader. Good writers know that it takes time and effort to do the job right, and are willing to do that. There is no compromise here. A well-researched piece that is poorly structured is no use, and nor are nicely flowing sentences and paragraphs that provide limited substance.
Consuming information in the digital age
If I had to identify one really significant change to be aware of when it comes to creating and preparing content, it is how our audiences’ brains are being affected by the digital age. Cognitive neuroscientists are giving this topic a lot of attention, with research revealing that our brains are developing new circuits for skimming through the massive amounts of information online. And this new way of reading runs counter to the way we have been consuming information for the past several thousand years. Distractions are part of this experience. We are constantly switching between apps and browser windows, checking our emails, and taking calls – all on the same device and often while on the go.
We have to respect the challenges our audience faces in this new era. This is why we should be aiming to write more simply, with blocks of texts that are easier to digest in the form of self-contained, shorter passages. Good writers can explain concepts and complex ideas simply and elegantly, in a way that is easy to understand.
Watch how you yourself engage with the content you read every day – what patterns do you notice? They may just help as you prepare your content for the mobile experience.