By Schuyler Richardson, Published May 6, 2014
If you haven’t already taken the advice, now is the time: Become mobile-friendly or become obsolete. According to multiple new studies and reports, global mobile internet traffic is growing at a significant rate. Three industries in specific – e-commerce, B2B, and consumer services – have seen a noticeable shift from desktop to mobile in the last few years, and the trend is expected to continue. According to Cisco Systems, global mobile data traffic is anticipated to reach an annual run rate of 190 exabytes per year by 2018. That’s up from 18 exabytes in 2013. What does that mean for businesses in these industries? It means mobile-optimized content is a must.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The mobile shift is being driven by two main factors: an increase in the number of mobile users and the number of people using these devices to check their email. Cisco reported 4.1 billion mobile users in 2013 and expects that number to rise to 4.9 billion in 2018. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly 70% of the world’s population.
According to the Walker Sands Mobile Traffic Report, nearly 40% of people check their email using a mobile device. This means two out of five people are clicking on links and navigating the web through a mobile browser.
What’s the bottom line? Web traffic from mobile devices is now responsible for 27% of all web traffic. Are you properly optimized for the mobile takeover? It’s already here.
What the Mobile Takeover Means for Your Company
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According to data from Wpromote, desktop web traffic saw a year-over-year decline of 11%. That, coupled with a 53% increase in smartphone traffic and a 35% increase in tablet traffic, means your company needs to take swift steps toward optimizing its website for mobile devices.
“Regardless of industry, a 50 percent increase in smartphone traffic in a year is a strong indicator of consumer preference,” said Mike Mothner, CEO of Wpromote. He believes the best response is to get ahead of the game, and continued with, “Marketers should evaluate their strategy in light of changing habits on a regular basis instead of playing catch-up when mobile traffic hits an even larger milestone.”
Tips for Mobile Optimization
In order to heed Mothner’s advice, develop a realistic and effective plan of action. Start by conducting an internal analysis of your company’s website and an external search of competitors in your industry. Are any of your competitors currently optimized for mobile uses? If so, use their success as a case study. The one benefit about not already being optimized is that you get the chance to see what’s working and what’s failing. Here are a few tips for creating a mobile-optimized content marketing strategy:
- Minimize the Use of Flash. It is important to keep the user in mind when developing your mobile site. Remember that mobile phones and tablets cannot currently render flash. If your site is highly dependent on flash, those efforts will be in vain. Search engines won’t recognize your site for what it’s worth and mobile users will be lost. Minimize flash throughout and eliminate it wherever possible.
- Simplify Navigation. The idea for mobile-optimized websites is to simplify navigation without reducing the quality of your message. As Sara Peach puts it on Innovation Insights, ‘Think beyond shrinking.’ Make it easier to consume the message and not diminish the message. “A mobile site can be so much more than a simplified version of a desktop site. It’s a storytelling medium in its own right, and it’s time for content producers to start thinking that way,” writes Peach. Mobile users often find it hard to click small dropdown menus, so find alternative methods.
- Simplify Conversion Forms. Data shows that mobile users are less likely than PC users to finish a form requiring data input on a site. That’s because they are often cumbersome, lengthy, and require too much time. Forms should be as easy as possible to complete. This is especially important in the e-commerce industry which derives a large majority of sales from mobile users. According to Derek Nelson of Smashing Magazine, you can do this by limiting the number of vital fields, allowing a guest checkout option, removing unnecessary distractions, and showing progress to encourage completion.
- Content & Headlines. Mobile device screens are smaller than desktop screens, but don’t stress over length. In examining data for his post, Nelson found 17% of mobile users finish stories, compared to 22% of desktop users. That difference is not significant enough to warrant spending extra time and effort on content length. Rather, focus on creative, entertaining headlines. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 42% of cell phone users use their smartphones to fight boredom. Capitalize on that statistic by developing headlines that draw mobile readers.
- Review Analytics & Trends. Once you’ve developed a mobile-optimized site, monitor its effectiveness and respond to noticeable trends. Google Analytics allow users to segment traffic based on device, which allows you to review tendencies. Every website’s visitors will respond differently, so don’t rely solely on industry advice. Spend time digging around your site for company-specific trends.
Mobile optimization is no longer a friendly suggestion for potentially reaching additional customers; it is becoming a requirement for survival. It’s time to flip the way you think about content strategy. Start by creating for mobile and scale up to desktop. In just a matter of years, your primary channel for online customer engagement will be mobile devices.
How do you plan on optimizing your content strategy for mobile devices?
This article originally appeared on Content Equals Money