Mobile is the future but where does ‘responsive copy’ fit in? Writing for a tiny screen means getting to the point in an instant and converting people with succinct copy. Gareth Bull from Bulldog Digital Media, offers some essential considerations for copywriting for mobile websites.
Mobile is the future but where does ‘responsive copy’ fit in? People often talk about mobile as if the design was the only thing that mattered, but content is key too. How do you adapt your copy and content creation process to mobiles? Writing for mobile means getting to the point in an instant and converting people with succinct copy, but it also means giving them valuable content and a user-experience that’s comparable to desktop. Here are some essential considerations for copywriting for mobile.
Mobile content consumption
Nowadays, people are actually reading (shock horror) on their mobiles. Technology habits are changing, and the latest smartphones are increasingly powerful and optimised for web browsing. Good mobile content should be a continuation of web content, not a second-class platform that frustrates with its lack of information. A bad mobile experience is bad for a brand.
Despite the need for clarity and succinct copy, it’s wrong to assume a ‘dumbed down’ attitude to writing mobile content. See your mobile readers as savvy content consumers. Give them the good stuff, but give them the option to have it as a takeaway snack if they want to.
Shift to adaptive strategy
There are so many content platforms, with smartphones differing wildly in their capabilities. You need a strategy for how your content will be consumed across ALL different platforms, not micro strategies for every device. This is known as adaptive content: content that will adapt to a customer, situation, and device. Content that is smart and freed from design constraints. Content that doesn’t care so much about where it is, but about where it is best deployed.
Writing adaptive content is about breaking content down into blocks that can then be used by different platforms. Think smart, structured, and adaptable. Write in blocks, ideas, and nuggets, rather than paragraphs and pages. Use structure and metadata to mark up your content for devices. Adaptable content success boils down to proper content auditing, user-testing, refining core messaging, and shifting content strategies away from older desktop-based models.
Survey all the content you have- what is being used by people? What is turning them off? What can be re-purposed? Approach your content audits analytically, breaking down content into key ideas, audience, engagement metrics, and possible future value. It’s a good idea to get a few different people involved in the evaluation process to avoid copy blindness. Don’t be afraid to cull useless content. You want to be left with only the essential content that matters to your audience.
Create a connection fast, but don’t be afraid of the scroll
You have three words to impress, seconds to sell- or do you? The mobile copy experience is more about giving people information fast and engaging them…then inviting them in for more if they want to. It’s not about stripping everything way.
• You have to make sure that the first words above the fold are compelling and that they put the user first.
• Don’t use a phrase “because you like it”, think about how a user will use it to get to the next step.
• If you want users to make a choice quickly, lay out all the different pathways for them. Use simple phrases or visuals.
• Include long-form content on mobile too- people will read it if it’s relevant.
Appeal to mobile user priorities
Information architecture is absolutely key for a mobile website. It’s important to give people key information quickly to make their journey easier, avoiding too much tapping and scrolling. Rejig information architecture to fit around user priorities. Prioritise this over fancy visuals or animations, as it will have a big impact on user-experience and your site’s engagement metrics.
Copy challenges & work flow
Writing for mobile is an opportunity to better your writing across the board. The focus on user priorities, succinctness and functionality should help refocus all your content. Writing for mobile should also help you redefine your copy workflow, seeing copy as adaptable and multifunctional, rather than treating pieces as discrete entities. Embrace spreadsheets and metrics to help you break down your copy into different formats.
Break it down
Often brands and businesses get bogged down with complex brand messaging, positively smothering the user with USPs and selling points. Sometimes breaking an idea down into its simplest form is the most effective way to create a genuine connection. To make an idea stick better, use the tried-and-tested SUCCESS principles. Making ideas sticky and simple is a great mobile copy strategy that will have positive effects across the board.
No easy answers
After all, ‘mobile experience’ means many things- it could mean a small screen and a dodgy WIFI connection on a train, or it could mean a huge screen in a company boardroom. Mobile is just the latest in a long line of digital transformations, and it’s one that businesses and brands need to embrace to compete in the current digital market. Karen McGrane’s e-book on mobile content strategy has a lot of fascinating insights into mobile content and writing for mobile if you wanted to explore the topic further.
What makes for great mobile content and why? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
By Gareth Bull
Director at Bulldog Digital Media
Bulldog Digital Media