At some point in the past few years, even the most experienced content professionals have paused in wonder and asked, “How did mobile so suddenly become our dominant form of distributing and accessing content?” For some areas of world, mobile skipped completely over the desktop revolution. In the United States, the shift may have appeared subtler, but it still happened at a relatively quick pace. The combination of near-ubiquitous high-speed Internet access, smartphone/tablet technology disruption, and the ease-of-use of mobile devices compared with traditional desktops and laptops consistently leads to higher and higher mobile usage.

More critically, this shift to mobile isn’t just a simple platform switch. Mobile changes audience behavior, affecting why, how, where, and when people access content. Organizations not adapting to these changes will experience harsher and harsher failures to connect content to audiences. Google’s new algorithm change on April 21, 2015 served as the final nail in the coffin if organizations want to put off any responsibility for creating mobile-friendly content. And as mobile content enters its maturity phase, it’s clear that a content strategy is more necessary than ever—with mobile woven throughout its goals and approach.

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices. – Google

If you need an obvious sign that making your content mobile-friendly is important, Google’s announcement of that algorithm change cannot make it any clearer. Stated so simply by Google, this announcement sent major ripples throughout the business world. After April 21, Google began penalizing mobile-unfriendly sites. That’s because Google realizes that its users access more and more content through mobile devices—and this trend will only continue. Google, as usual, relentlessly just wants users to get the best search results—and thus, the content—they want. Today, that means users need relevant, useful, mobile-friendly content.

64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011. […] Using a broader measure of the access options available to them, 15% of Americans own a smartphone but say that they have a limited number of ways to get online other than their cell phone. – Pew Internet

mobile fact sheetMobile technology has revolutionized the way Americans access content. The growth of high-speed Internet access combined with the higher accessibility and lower cost of mobile devices compared to traditional desktops and laptops means that more mobile-only audiences are emerging in the United States.

Proximity-based offers triggered on mobile devices have increased the likelihood to purchase during a store visit by 73%, and 61% of shoppers said they would visit a store that offered these real-time offers more often. – Swirl

And even for people who use multiple devices, mobile has become a more crucial part of their device mix. That means organizations are not even on the radar screen of an increasingly mobile-only and mobile-dominant audience if they are not creating mobile-friendly content.

Mobile opens increased to 56%, desktop decreased to 17%, and webmail opens decreased to 27%. – Litmus’ Email Analytics October 2016

For many B2C companies especially, rapidly growing consumer audiences (especially Hispanic and international audiences) often have higher percentages of mobile-only users. For example, in Indonesia, “Mobile penetration is increasing significantly: The total number of mobile Internet subscriptions – 281 million – is even greater than the total population of 250 million – many Indonesians own multiple mobile devices. Social media adoption is even more dramatic: Indonesia boasts 80 million active Facebook users (the 4th largest Facebook population worldwide), 26 million Twitter users (with 385 Tweets sent per second), and the most active Twitter city in the world (Jakarta)” explains Rinda Mutis, Senior Content Manager for the International User Experience & Design Department at the Alibaba Group.

A whopping 44% of companies openly state that mobile services are simply a scaled-down version of their online initiative. Thus, many CMOs are not seizing what Forrester calls mobile moments. – Forrester, quoted in CIO Magazine

mobile fact sheetDespite all of these clear mobile trends, it seems that most organizations are just not getting it. Many organizations still think of mobile as desktop content crammed into a mobile device screen. But so much more nuance goes into creating quality mobile content that takes into consideration design, the use of apps, mobile user experience, and the specific content needs of mobile users. As Cision’s CMO explains, “These days brands need to think mobile first, determining how audiences will receive content on screens not much bigger than your palm. Responsive and adaptive design and tailoring resources to these small screens are critical to success.” A mobile content strategy considers responsive design, studies what mobile customers want, and understands the behavior and perceptions of mobile audiences.

User interest in apps has mellowed now that they have integrated apps into their use of personal technology and their interaction with brands while online. Although usage remains high, users may not want or need more apps in the future. This is cause for some concern for app providers because if users become too complacent then app businesses could suffer from lack of engagement or slowing growth. – Gartner

From a content perspective, it’s always a predictable waiting game when a tool, technology, or new shiny toy is hyped, buzzed about, and funded in an intoxicating fashion. Eventually, that shiny toy loses its shine, matures, and predictably becomes all about content to stay competitive and differentiated. After a few years of mobile app hype, oversaturation, and siloed content development often disconnected from an overall content strategy, mobile apps now must grow up.

Apps account for 89% of mobile media time, with the other 11% spent on websites. Smart Insights

Similar to how websites, social media, or SEO grew rapidly on hype and technical acumen until they hit a maturity point, mobile apps must now compete on the quality, relevance, and usefulness of their content to users. For The Home Depot, this means that “when customers are in-store, our mobile app team has recognized that there’s an entirely different use case and have made more updates like more video, 360-degree turns of product, inventory availability, and even live chat to help them make the best buying decision,” explains Senior Manager, Media Strategy Erin Everhart.

Mobile especially becomes an essential part of an international content strategy when considering how consumer technology developed in other countries. Alan Porter of Caterpillar pointed out in an interview in 2014 that in many countries around the world, the mobile experience is the primary or dominant experience for most users.

Between 2008-2015, USA Internet usage has increased 11% year-over-year with mobile usage up to 3 hours per day per user versus less than 1 hour per day five years ago. – Mobile Marketing Statistics

mobile fact sheetIn some cases, these users never even went through a desktop computer phase of any significance. Carrying over a desktop-oriented content strategy internationally without much thought for mobile will cripple your organization’s efforts—wasting content investments without really knowing why it’s not working. As Alibaba Group’s Senior Content Manager Ekaterina Igosheva and Senior Russian Content Manager Luliia Mozharovskaia share, “As more and more consumers forgo the brick-and-mortar experience, computers, tablets, and mobile phones have become the frontline for customer service and engagement. The shift is even more dramatic in developing markets, which – lacking the decades of well-developed shopping infrastructure found in the West – have leapfrogged into the digital age.”

The new website experience is mobile first, and it will be the most dynamic part of the migration. American Cancer Society’s Kelley Graham on their 2017 website relaunch

As we look to the future, Adobe’s Head of Strategic Marketing for Mobile Solutions Ray Pun points out that “mobile AR is a real opportunity for every brand,” and he highlights examples from Toyota, Ben & Jerry’s, and Ikea here. The overarching lesson of these mobile facts and statistics is to always consider mobile throughout every aspect of your content. That may mean rebuilding a content strategy to account for mobile, studying your audiences more to understand their mobile behavior, or rewriting content to make it more mobile-friendly. Whichever direction you take, mobile will be an integral part of your content path.

The Author

Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

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