Where are you reading this right now?
While you may be sitting at a computer, chances are good that you are reading this on your phone.
Three out of every four Americans now has a smartphone. It doesn’t take a statistician to look around and see everyone on their phones, so your omnichannel content marketing strategy should already consider mobile phone technology.
In our Digital Marketing is Interwoven series, we have been analyzing how a variety of digital trends impact content marketers. While we will focus on specific mobile trends here, we also wanted to take a step back to consider what overall mobile use means for content marketers today.
Good content starts with good writing.
Focus on Good Writing More Than Ever
Research by the Nielsen Norman Group found that readers understand short, simple text on mobile devices just as well as they do on computers; however, they slow down when reading difficult text on mobile.
This underscores perhaps the most important takeaway about all writing: Your content should be as easy to understand as possible, no matter whom or what channels you’re writing for.
As a result of their research findings, NN/g emphasizes the importance of brevity when it comes to writing website content. They do include a caveat that longer content is OK if it serves the purpose of entertaining or informing — which all content should do.
While NN/g is right that every word should count, content marketers should prioritize being comprehensive for two primary reasons:
- Content shock is real. To stand out, yours has to be among the best of its kind — which often means telling your readers everything they might want to know about a given topic.
- As search algorithms continue to evolve, they focus less on keywords and more on content value. Search engines consider longer content to be more valuable, presumably because it covers the topic in-depth.
Research by groups like UXMatters has shown that mobile users scroll to the end of articles just as much as desktop users, meaning brevity does not necessarily matter more on mobile devices.
- Write short, punchy copy. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula is a great way to measure the readability of your writing. This uses factors like word length and sentence length to determine a score as a US grade level (5th grade through college graduate). Higher grade levels mean the text is more difficult to read, so aim for 9th grade or lower. You can run your readability statistics in Microsoft Office or use the Hemingway App, which includes insights about where you can improve your writing.
- Write scannable copy. Content that is easy to read is also scannable. Lead with the most important information, and include signposts like headings and subheadings, bulleted lists, and bold text to help readers.
- Don’t be afraid of longform. A good rule of thumb for articles like this one is to aim for around 1,500 words. We have found that this strikes a good balance between informative and digestible. Consider even longer-form content like ultimate guides, as well.
For comparison, the article you’re reading now has 1,524 words and is written at the 9th grade level.
Consider Different Content Formats
We discussed creating content for different channels in a recent post about what social media trends mean for content marketers. You should also think about creating different content for the mobile and desktop experiences.
Video is becoming increasingly important, so it should be a factor in your content marketing strategies. Vidyard has an excellent guide to optimizing video for mobile devices.
Some older staples of content marketing, such as infographics or PDFs, don’t work well on mobile phones. Case in point:
"Read my EBook on MobileFirst development. It's a PDF designed for an 8.5×11 piece of paper."
— Bill Seitz (@BillSeitz) April 10, 2018
For this reason, Intel’s Luke Kintigh recommends converting infographic elements to a slideshow or a progressive scroll.
Until recently, many people saved longer-form content for desktop reading. It’s still difficult to find mobile-friendly whitepapers, though we predict you’ll see more of them. “The Future of VR and 360 Video,” by Thomas Baekdal at Baekdal.com, is a good one.
- Optimize your videos for mobile. There is no point in creating them otherwise.
- Consider reformatting infographics into something mobile-friendly like a slideshow. You can also slice and dice infographics into smaller pieces that are readable on smaller devices.
- Create mobile-friendly versions of PDFs. Here is a useful guide for this. You can also give users the option to email themselves a link to your content so they can view it later on their desktops.
Inform Your Strategy With Location-Based Data
Always meet your target audience where they are. With mobile technology, you can do that literally.
Location-based data presents one of the bigger marketing opportunities brought on by mobile technology, which has given rise to the term “micro-moments.” These happen when we reflexively turn to our phones to do, learn, find, watch or buy something.
While micro-moments aren’t new (location data company Tamoco has an interesting history on the evolution of location-based marketing technology, from IP addresses to augmented reality), advancements in location-based marketing technology continue to improve how brands can be there when they happen.
This data is not just relevant to advertisers who geotarget their ads or send push notifications to their apps. The biggest value may be in creating audiences and consumer path maps, says Yory Wurmser at eMarketer.
“The data/audience dimension is uniquely different with mobile vs. desktop,” says Ian Karnell at Phunware. “As users go about their daily lives with their smartphones, they leave a digital trail that tells brands who they are, where they have been, their preferences and where they will go next.”
Content marketers need to consider where their target audiences will be when they interact with the brand or need what it offers. The content someone needs from your website may vary whether they are on their phone or laptop. For example, a driver is more likely to search for “roadside assistance” on the mobile version of their insurance provider’s website.
These insights can also impact what content marketers create. For example, you might see that those who walk into your outdoors store often frequent local yoga studios, as well, and could benefit from content about yoga retreats.
Google tells us that more than 40 percent of mobile searches have local intent. In addition, more than 85 percent of engagement with brands is local, says Wesley Young at Local Search Association, so we should include local keywords in our content, as well.
Augmented reality (AR) is also part of the location-based marketing trend. While that is too much to touch on here, you can check out the ThinkMobiles guide to developing an AR app if you’re interested in more.
- Leverage your data. Use mobile data to identify insights about the content your audience is interested in and when/where they are when they need it.
- Make your content locally relevant. Consider local content in your keyword strategy and when determining what content should live on your desktop and mobile sites.
- Don’t own much user data? Get it elsewhere. We use Buzzsumo to validate general interest around a topic. Sites like Quora and Reddit are helpful as well.
Optimize Your Content for Voice Search
According to Google, 20 percent of all mobile searches are voice searches. With the introduction of products like Alexa, this trend isn’t only related to mobile’s Siri and Google Assistant, but that makes it all the more relevant.
Vivid Seats SEO Director Bryson Meunier says you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for voice if you already implement content marketing and SEO best practices — especially if you already optimize your content for mobile.
The most notable impact of voice search on content marketers is the way we optimize our writing. Fewer searches follow the traditional “[location] + [vendor type]” search format. Rather, they’re phrased as more conversational, long-tail searches.
So, instead of saying “Atlanta tire shop” to Google Assistant, a user might say “Hey Google, I need new tires.” Your content can support these search results by focusing on the context and reasons people would search for your tire shop.
Some content marketers find this to be more difficult, but we believe writing should always be conversational while remaining professional.
In his study on voice search results, Brian Dean at Backlinko found that more than 40 percent of results came from Google’s “featured snippets, and that Google sources results from long-form content.” This is great news for content marketers and supports our recommendation to create longer, in-depth content.
- Keep doing what you’re doing. If you need a refresher on mobile optimization, there is always Google’s Mobile SEO Guidelines.
- Write more conversational, long-tail content. Don’t get hung up on individual keywords; phrase content as questions and focus on FAQs instead. Meunier recommends using Answer the Public (free), Question Samurai (signup required) and StoryBase (paid) to find popular questions among your audience members.
- Brush up on Google’s newest tech. Dean recommends creating Actions on Google. It’s also worth checking out Google’s reintroduction to featured snippets before writing your content.
There are many other trends to consider as mobile truly is at the center of our day-to-day interactions with brands, businesses and content. Stay tuned for our next article on how digital marketing trends impact content marketing.
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