From device switching to long-form mobile content – content marketing trends

Don’t let device switching tie you in knots

This month’s Adobe Summit put a new spin on the idea of optimising content for specific platforms. Not only are wedevice switching now comfortably over the tipping point from desktop to mobile web usage, 82% of consumers now actively switch devices while carrying out the same task. While we’ve had some inkling that users were ‘multiscreening’, these are the most dramatic figures yet.

But, while the consumer penchant for device switching is clear, a meagre 40% of those surveyed agreed that their content experience across platforms was consistent. The message is clear; content marketers just aren’t doing enough, not only to assure a seamless cross-device experience, but to take advantage of the stage of purchase most associated with the specific device.

There’s much left to learn, but there’re a few behavioural traits that have already been identified and connected to device switching. Here’s some examples of what we know:

  • Mobile devices are often used to browse during down-time (commutes, lunch break etc.), but that (especially larger) purchases are then regularly made on a desktop.
  • People viewing products on mobile and tablet devices are more likely to have clicked through from a news or social media source.
  • Products with a complex purchase process (subscription-based products, licensed products etc.) will usually be obtained via desktop.

So, rather than just reformatting content to fit on a different-sized screen, content marketers must also integrate cues that show an understanding of the consumer mind-set in order to deliver a continuous cross-device experience.

And, with mobile smartphone search conversions increasing 10% year-on-year, mobile display conversions growing 26% and social conversions set to hit 50% by 2017, there’s no better time to revolutionise your cross-platform content optimisation and stay ahead of the pack.

The joke about long-form content on mobile devices has just got serious

Sticking with the ‘content for mobile devices’ theme, there’s been some encouraging news from the Pew Research Centre, who have found that pigs can fly people will still read long-form content on mobile devices.

Many had touted tablets as the device type that would combine the best of desktop and mobile features, making it the go-to device type for long-form content. This left content marketers scratching their heads as the popularity of tablets stagnated.

The latest study – which took into account 117m anonymised mobile interactions across 30 news sites (74,840 articles) in September 2015 – found that long and short-form content received around the same number of visits, but had roughly twice as much engagement time as short-form content (123 seconds and 57 seconds respectively). This goes some way to dispelling the perception of mobile devices as too restrictive for long-form content and home of bite-size, semi-distracted engagement.

Unlike desktop, however, this engagement is much more likely to be affected by how a person has found content. Social media sites drive the largest share of overall traffic at 40%, but readers that access articles in this way are likely to engage for the shortest amount of time. Those who follow a link on their own phone to a page within the same website are most likely to engage for longest.

Despite promises from the likes of The Washington Post and New Yorker that a means of conveniently revisiting an article at the same point at which it was left is in development, this is likely to mark a high-water mark for technology in its current form. But, don’t let this put you off. There’s finally concrete evidence that long-form content can work on mobile devices. Not only does this give you an immediate means of enhancing your thought-leader credentials, it’s the horn that sounds open season on the development of long-form content specifically for mobile devices. Don’t get left behind!

Have you got a ‘Start Here’ page to introduce your content strategy?

The standard ‘About Us’ page has been a staple of website creation for as long as our distraction-addled memories can… Ohh, a kitten in a snapback pretending to be a tortoise…

It’s a practical, ‘salt-of-the-earth’ kind of a page that just gets on with the job of servicing both site visitors and Google crawlers. But, in the age of content strategy, you need to explain more than just your key services, founding date and industry awards.

A ‘Start Here’ page effectively acts as an ‘About Us’ for the content arm of the business. A decent Start Here page should explain:

  • Who the primary writers are
  • Why the blog was founded (expertise, industry insight etc.)
  • Where the best content is located
  • How users can interact via social media and email

It should be a gentle introduction that assumes the user knows nothing about your site or services, and gives them steps on how to work towards various ends. It should focus on the content mission and journey, like a reassuring guide at the start of an epic expedition.

In short, this puts a face to black and white text. It gives visitors a point of reference, and prevents them from becoming frustrated at spending time on a site that then turns out not to be relevant to their needs. So, isn’t it about time that you drafted one up?

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