Mobile Devices Are Key to Content Consumption

Mobile Devices Are Key to Content Consumption

By: Shelly Kramer
June 7, 2012

Consuming content on mobile devicesWe work with clients all the time to ensure their content is as consumable on mobile devices as it is via traditional means. It’s always a challenge. And when I stumbled across this video about user experience called “A Magazine is an iPad That Does Not Work,” well, I loved it. And, apparently, so did another 3.7 million people across the Interwebs. Technology absolutely changes our personal operating systems – watch and see if you don’t agree.

So of course I was inspired to write about it. For many of our clients, the mobile space, mobile content and the voracious consumption of content that’s happening on mobile devices is still a concept that’s difficult to get their heads around. And with the tablet market (estimated sales) predicted to be slightly over 377 million units by 2016, well there’s no time like the present to be paying attention. And making a plan.

Here’s a real-world example. We work with a very large client who has been publishing a magazine for 20 plus years that is mailed quarterly to a specific distribution list. It’s a great publication, one that their clients tell them is a good resource, and they are deservedly proud of it. And the cost for the content development for that quarterly magazine, the printing and mailing–you guessed it–it’s not cheap.

But, to our way of thinking, they’re not getting as big of a return on investment out of that piece of content–that marketing vehicle–as they could. And should.

Our job is to start conversations and ask questions that begin with things like:

“It’s great that your magazine is so popular, and we don’t recommend you stop publishing it. However, what else are you doing with that content? How can we maximize its impact? And what are you doing about catering to all the people who might prefer to read your publication on their mobile devices? And how are you making it easy for your readers to share that great content you’re creating?”

Consumption of information on devices is but a heartbeat away (if that) of surpassing that of consumption on the desktop, which means that people are reading information on the go—or at least with a mobile device in their hands. They are accessing the things that interest them and/or the content they need on tablets and/or their smartphones. And those trends aren’t going down anytime soon. Or ever.

Business travelers are leaving laptops behind and traveling with iPads and other tablets and they’re consistently looking for ways to lighten their backpacks, not make them heavier. And if you’re a brand that’s publishing magazines and/or newspapers and other traditional publication vehicles – well, they make things heavier.

Don’t take our word for it; look at this chart from a recent study, The Effects of Tablets on US Content Consumption, done by FTI Consulting of over 1,500 respondents. Notice how happy consumers are to walk away from newspapers and magazines if they can get them in digital format?

Mobile devices and content consumption

So when it comes to your content marketing efforts, you’ve got to stop thinking about producing things that you like, or things you’re comfortable with because that’s how you’ve always done it and, instead, start thinking about what your customers and target audience want—and need. And how they want to consume information.

Flurry reported in mid-2011 that smartphone and tablet shipments exceeded those of laptops and desktops and daily interactive consumption has drastically changed. That’s significant (and relevant to this discussion) because their analysis showed that for the first time ever, time spent in mobile apps surpassed that of desktop and mobile web consumption. Hmmm. People like mobile apps when it comes to consuming information. Isn’t that what we’re talking about? That’s a rhetorical question—no need to answer. These numbers are even more amazing when you consider the fact that it took less than three years for native mobile apps to accomplish this kind of usage.

Mobile devices are key to content consumption

Don’t misunderstand. We’re not saying that content that you create publish in printed form isn’t bad. It’s just not enough. And it certainly doesn’t have much in the way of ‘legs,’ which is part of what helps you get a better ROI from your marketing investment in that particular content. And shareability is legs.

Magazines delivered only in traditional print format make sharing virtually impossible. Unless, of course you’re like my mom and still a fan of the tearing out of a page and mailing it to your intended recipient. For most of us content consumers (and we imagine a large part of your target audience as well), we’d prefer shareability that’s slightly quicker and easier. As in accomplished with the tap of a button or a swipe.

Our challenge to you–stop and think about your marketing efforts, especially if they include ‘old school’ things like developing printed magazines that are mailed to clients. Think about how you might make your marketing more integrated and in line with what’s happening in the digital space. Turn your sights on producing content that’s available in different iterations, depending on the end consumers’ (your target audience) individual preferences.

Be paying attention to the analytics on your website and corporate blog and watch how those numbers of people accessing your site from mobile devices is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Consider producing those magazines in app form or some other digital form that complements today’s mobile lifestyle.

And certainly know that even babies today are looking for touchable, flippable, shareable content. I know the little cutie pie in this video is, and my six-year old twins are as adept at using the iPad and other devices as I am — and these people will be your target audience in the blink of an eye. And those of us who are older—we’re looking for your content to be device-friendly, too. Right now. What are you doing to prepare for that?

Image by Wiertz SA©bastien via Creative Commons