Responsive design and other innovations have allowed brands to serve both sides of this divide. But most brands’ mobile content strategy hasn’t yet undergone the transformation needed to optimally serve consumers. Shortening content is a lazy solution that doesn’t respond to the needs of mobile consumers, nor does it take advantage of mobile device features and the potential of mobile technology.
New trends are emerging, and they’re helping guide mobile content in more dynamic, platform-specific directions. That’s helping distinguish mobile content as a marketing asset separate from content delivered over desktop. And, as brands pay more attention to how content can be packaged and presented in a mobile environment, the user experience will open up to even greater potential.
All of this hinges, of course, on some creative thinking and resourcefulness—that is, making use of the resources available through mobile display. Marketers have many options at their disposal and a lot of work to do in finding the perfect balance.
To increase content appeal on mobile devices, where consumers might not be consuming long-form they way they did on desktops, a popular solution has been shortening content and reducing any given article or post to its most essential information. This is misguided in two ways. For one, mobile users are clearly okay with consuming a lot of content through smartphones and tablets—that’s why mobile usage now outweighs desktop activity in many parts of the world.
Mobile consumers also aren’t any less interested in information than desktop users would be. By shortening content, you’re depriving them of information, which can worsen their user experience while providing less service as they research an upcoming purchase or visit their favorite website. Instead, marketers should look to episodic content that converts a potentially longer piece into smaller, serialized posts.
As MarketingProfs notes, this type of content is often referred to as “snackable” or “bite-sized,” and it’s in direct response to declining attention spans. But it’s important to point out that short content doesn’t have to live in isolation. Some of the examples of snackable content, such as on Twitter and other social media, are actually endless streams of content. It’s just that the individual streams are small and easy-to-digest. The commitment required by that content is negligible, which supports its consumption.
In a similar way, brands should consider how episodic content on mobile can elicit similar reactions. By lessening the commitment and dividing content into bite-sized pieces, consumers may engage longer than they’d expected.
The very nature of mobile platforms is one that supports personalization. Interconnected apps, location information, and other behavioral data make it easier than ever to deliver customized experiences through mobile, more so than through desktop options.
This personalization can come in many forms. One example is contextual content delivered at a time relevant to user behaviors. If a brand app or website identifies markers of behavior that indicate a likely buyer, they might choose to deliver a different piece of content than was originally planned. Using this data allows mobile publishing platforms to be nimble and essentially recommend content based on what’s most likely to make a strong impression.
UX Mag also emphasizes the importance of behavioral data to generate smarter content experiences based on past content engagement. App analytics tools can even build heatmaps of your content delivery platforms and the content itself, illustrating where fingers are gravitating when engaging with the screen.
Text still matters on mobile, but visual elements must be considered and emphasized. Marketers should enrich content by adding visual elements to a post, such as video, infographics, photos and other visual—even interactive—elements. But the visual appeal of content should be viewed beyond the content itself, with marketers taking a hard look at the packaging and presentation through a mobile platform.
Some brands will want to supplement content with visual elements; others will want to create content that is entirely visual in nature. This still needs to have a snackable quality to it, but mobile platforms offer more latitude in publishing thanks to the brevity of the channel.
Visual considerations are closely aligned with an intriguing trend that’s reshaping mobile content: Instant Articles, a Facebook feature that allows publishers to post articles directly to Facebook using their own CMS. The big draws of this publishing solution are its mobile-friendly features, which include page load times up to 10 times faster than what a link to Facebook can provide. On April 8 at its developer’s conference, Facebook will open up Instant Articles to publishers of any size.
In many ways, though, Instant Articles provides the mobile content experience both brands and consumers need. Interactive maps, embedded audio captions in videos, autoplay video and interactive tilt-to-pan photos can all be published through this new feature, which gives even major publishers like The Washington Post an engaging feature they didn’t already own.
Facebook is using its own platform to deliver a user experience specifically built for mobile content, and the early results have featured nothing but resounding praise. Even if brands don’t want to outsource their mobile experience to Facebook’s platform, they understand that the value of such an experience is so high that failing to take advantage would be a poor business decision.
That’s the state of mobile content strategy in 2016. Content is its own experience, and the design of mobile devices—not to mention the mobile platforms we consumers have embraced—are giving shape to new forms of delivering those stories.