With more consumers than ever using their mobiles rather than PCs to access digital services, Adam Clark, Head of Social and Content at digital marketing agency the tree, offers a guide on creating mobile first content.
It’s no mystery that mobile users make up a staggering 91% of the global online population. Smartphones are the fastest growing technology in human history. In fact, 4.6 billion people use one, 2.3 billion of which are active online. London’s O2 Arena has an audience capacity of 20 thousand people, 2.3 billion mobile users online is roughly the equivalent of 150,000 filled O2 Arenas. Even the likes of Ariana Grande would struggle to ‘pop’ enough to get the attention of an audience that big. Yet 52% of companies still use content brand guidelines that apply across all devices and channels.
Here, Adam Clark, Head of Social and Content, at the tree explains how mobile first content is more than just adapting the pixels and aspect ratio of desktop content, it’s about putting mobile content at the forefront of a brand’s content marketing strategy.
What makes mobile first content so special?
It’s all down to “mobile mindset.” Clicktale and researchers from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania studied this mindset and found:
“A mobile mindset is individualistic, self-focused and more relaxed due to a perceived ‘safe zone’ created by a smartphone. To users, engagement with a smartphone triggers relaxation and psychological comfort, which they turn to at times of stress or worry.”
Smartphones actually make us feel relaxed and comfortable. When we’re in this safe zone, we seek out content that is:
- Entertaining (e.g. pop culture, sports over news)
- Edgy (vs. work appropriate)
- Packed with “guilty pleasure” appeal
- Fast (vs. slow) and functional
A mobile-first strategy should balance all of these factors to reach mobile users in their safe zone, which in turn improves customer experience, influences buying behaviours, and encourages onsite action. By 2021 global mobile E-commerce sales are predicted to be worth $3.56 trillion, a number that’s growing every year. That’s incredible potential. Understanding the mobile mindset isn’t just common sense, it’s sound financial sense.
So how can marketers create content for the mobile mindset? Here are five ways to create mobile content that pops and stop the dreaded scroll.
1. Nail the user experience (UX) and personalisation
Mobile phones are all about instant gratification. People will ditch a site or app in the blink of an eye. If you want to improve bounce rates and encourage return visits to your sites, focus on user experience (UX). UX has always been influential, but in 2020 we’re also seeing UX take a new turn for mobile content. Smartphone functionality is leading content direction, with improved personalisation, voice interaction, advanced animation, liquid swipe, and buttonless design. And in 2021, asymmetric content, informal microcopy, immersive 3D elements, and dark mode are predicted to be even more crucial. It’s about creating content that effectively delivers written content to target audiences. In short, mobile UX is continually adapting to incorporate new technologies.
More specifically, a brand needs to be hypermobile, searchable, reachable, and shareable in all places and at all times. Think about it, who wants to wait longer than a couple of seconds for the elements of a web page to load when they’re on the go? In fact, a business has three seconds to load before the average consumer moves on to something else. Mobile content needs to be easy to view, use, and interact with on mobile. A brand must also reach through the device to engage with the consumer when they’re on the move.
Hypermobility uses geotargeting to help provide a smartphone user with information based on their location in real time. It goes beyond ‘coffee shops near me’ and turns a consumer’s immediate surroundings into an immersive, interactive and deeply personal experience. From simple local ad extensions to using AR to check how that showroom sofa looks in your living room.
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Whatever content you plan to publish consider how you can make it “pop” with interactivity. For example, could you address your target audience directly with personalised elements? Or bring in animation that’s scroll responsive to catch the scrollers eye? Map out where you want your social content or website to take them, and then see if the path you’ve set feels natural in terms of movement, and that it scrolls well.
2. Image counts: we all scream for nice screen
In consumer behaviour Brain Rules the author and molecular biologist John Medina explains that with the right visuals, the audience is more than six times more likely to remember your message. Mobile users love pictures, graphics, anything that makes them think “WOW!” Whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn, visual content substantially increases content engagement. Medina explains just how powerful this is:
“We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”
So, what type of images work best?
Choosing the right image isn’t just about the dazzle factor. To engage mobile users, mobile imagery needs to be:
- Creative and engaging – to get their attention, images must be colourful, bold, and animated.
- Functional, hyper-contextual – the images give the message.
- Optimised for mobile across and channels – eye-catching and professional-looking images shine on smartphones.
- Human, inspirational or unique – it makes mobile users feel good or understood.
Historically most advertising content has been informational. In other words, its simply passed on information about what the product or service does… a brain thing. But as time goes on, transformational advertising, or the feeling thing, is much more effective on mobile. A landmark advertising study explains that transformational advertising makes the “experience of using the product richer, warmer, more exciting, and/or more enjoyable” by weaving the experience of the advert with the experience of using the brand.
It’s about getting the customer to feel the brand. Call it the Don Draper effect… if Don was pulled into the 21st Century.
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Don’t limit yourself to still photography and images. Video content is by far the most popular. In fact, it gets 1200% more interaction than BOTH stills and text. Yes, that’s not a typo, TWELVE HUNDRED PERCENT! On that note, here’s some UGC from our #CaughtOnArlo campaign, leveraging video content to reach over 1.4 million consumers across channels.
3. Create a mobile-first content strategy that pops
One size never fits all. Think about it, we’ve all bought the hat that’s perched on the top of our heads, or the trousers that hang to the knees. Using the same content for desktop on mobile is a digital fashion faux pas; what works for one channel doesn’t work on mobile. Using the same content brand guidelines for desktop on mobile is a digital fashion faux pas.
However, many businesses still extend brand consistency guidelines across all kinds of media including print and digital materials, the desktop website, flyers, blogs and more – who has the time, right? Sure, your text and imagery might come together to form a cohesive piece of website content that’s on-brand. But those existing brand guidelines might not translate to mobile content. In fact, they might look terrible or bizarre. Maybe the website font becomes nearly invisible, or your banner photos look cluttered when compacted to fit a mobile phone screen.
When you consider that 2.3 billion-strong group of mobile users scrolling on by, it’s important to make the time to formulate a separate set of guidelines for mobile content. As renowned British practitioner of corporate identity and branding Wally Olins once put it:
“Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.”
Mobile-first content is the result of aligning the brand with the needs of a mobile device. To do this effectively you need to:
- Keep it simple – Simple, responsive mobile sites need larger, streamlined text and high speed.
- Upsize interactive elements – Sites are finger-navigated, so interactive elements must be large enough on the screen.
- Graphics and logos change – They often translate differently on mobiles, so check how they are scaled.
- Colour is key – 80% of consumers consider a brand’s colour a big part of a brand’s recognition, so make sure all your colours are there.
In addition to improving user experience and engagement, creating a mobile-first strategy will help get you in Google’s good books too. Sites that follow mobile best practices are migrated over to mobile-first indexing – meaning your mobile site will gain more attention if you stick to mobile-friendly guidelines.
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Think about what you want your audience to do with your content before you decide what it looks like. Do you want them to share it? Be Inspired to buy something? Engage with it? Applied thoughtfully with the goal already in mind, your brand guidelines will consistently guide your audience into action.
4. Content + social media = #relationshipgoals
“Content is fire, social media is gasoline.” Jay Baer, President, Convince and Convert
Half of the people on earth use social media with the average user racking up an average of 144 minutes a day on social media sites and apps. There’s enormous potential, and what’s better is that the journey between mobile content to social media channels is smooth on mobile, which means users are more likely to bounce between the two.
Consider how you can link your onsite mobile content with channels offsite – such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. Each of these platforms improve the engagement with your audience, offer an opportunity to go viral, and give you downloadable stats on your reach.
Remeember, each social media platform attracts a different demographic, so you’ll want your posts to reach out to targeted users differently across each channel, ask yourself:
- Who is your target audience?
- Which social media apps are they most likely to use?
- When does your target audience use social media?
- Can an influencer serve as a short-cut?
Be strategic with posts and engagement across offsite channels, and adjust the settings of your content to adhere to that channels’ default dimensions and audience. For blogs and web pages, you’ll also want to look at setting automated meta images – the images that appear when someone shares your content offsite.
There are 3.8 billion social media users. Connecting your mobile-first content to social media requires a lot of time and research up front, but it is worth it.
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Social media allows you to talk to your audience, but it also enables you to gain valuable engagement and insight from your audience. And we’re not just talking Foursquare check-ins, which is so 2010 but still a thing FYI. If you encourage engagement with your posts, you’ll get free and immediate market research on what works and what doesn’t, so you can learn and fix. Adapt and evolve, until you get that ‘pop’!
5. Words have power: make them count on mobile
Did you know a simple mobile Google search ad can increase awareness by 45%? Having a visually-led site can help break up important information into more easily digestible chunks but, like the ultimate power couple, even good images needs the right words. Even copy needs to be adapted for mobile.
The way we capture a mobile audience on the move or otherwise, is different to desktop. Whereas desktop text should adhere to the ‘F’ model (important writing focused at the top of the page and then to the left as the eyeline drops), mobile users are seeking to find the information they want, right in front of their faces, at the right time. Bottom line, mobile content needs to pop. So, be brief and prepare for recommended word limits whether you’re writing copy for a social post, push notifications, stills text, headlines and banners, or animated stories.
Mobile use is a highly personal experience, so you’ll want a message that’s high-impact, concise, memorable, with a clear call to action. There’s no room for waffling and if a consumer sees huge blocks of text, you’re done for. Don’t be afraid to be edgy; remember mobile audiences aren’t necessarily looking for content that’s ‘SFW’ (safe for work) on their smartphones. Whatever strategy you use, thinking mobile-first will help you avoid mistakes, even the ones you didn’t know you were making.
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Traditional banner ads, even wisely worded, are incredibly unpopular on mobile phones because they clash with and visually block the content the user wants to see, creating the dreaded negative user experience. Either avoid them, or ensure that your banner ad visually and tonally compliments the site you’re advertising on.
Mobile content is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’
It’s clear we’re well past the point where mobile content is just ‘a second thought’ or ‘nice to have.’ Creating mobile-first content is the name of the game – it’s where you meet your audience. Mobile-first content needs to appeal to audiences whether they’re in their most intimate settings, their own private worlds, or walking down the street.
Combining imagery, social integration, messaging, and UX makes it “pop,” not because it’s prettier that way and ‘ticks a box’, but because it leverages the full potential of mobile-first content. Creating a mobile content strategy is a worthwhile challenge. Side step it, and prepare for stagnation. Step it up, and not only will you tap into the world’s fastest growing market, but you’ll be invited into your customer’s lives. And that’s a great way to grow your company.
By Adam Clark
Head of Social and Content