Mobile devices appear to be winning the online engagement war. As reported in a recent article on Marketing Sherpa, mobile email opens recently topped desktop opens, while 49.3 percent of the population makes purchases with their mobile devices (as opposed to a mere 36.6 percent of purchases via desktop computers. With this new trend in mind, let's look at some steps you might want to take to align your trade publication's online presence with the mobile mindset.
Devising a Responsive Web Design Strategy
As you may have heard by now, Google has caught on to the importance of the mobile audience -- so much so, that they're now giving preferential treatment to mobile-friendly websites. Once upon a time, that would have meant creating a whole separate mobile website, but today it means building a responsive web design that will scale to specific screen-size "breakpoints." Obviously you need to join the responsive crowd if you haven't already. But just how responsive does your site need to be?
In the short term, it makes sense to focus on optimizing your responsive website for the screen resolutions that your readers seem to favor. No responsive website can provide an equally ideal experience at every single possible resolution, so prioritizing the most popular options will ensure that your trade publication's site is as engaging as possible for the majority of your audience.
But don't forget that screen-size trends and preferences come and go as technology continues to evolve. If you really want to future-proof your responsive website, accept that this design probably won't be your last. The most sensible approach of all may be to optimize your site for the smallest possible resolution, since this size is the one most likely to become unreadable without that extra help.
Making Your Content Digestible
Mobile readers have even less time and patience than desktop readers. This crowd isn't stopping to read anything extensive -- they absorb information while glancing at their devices during shopping trips, at stoplights, between meetings, or on coffee breaks. That means they're less likely to delve into a massive pile of text that they have no hope of finishing during those tiny windows of attention.
What does this mean for your publication's online presence? You need to place the spotlight firmly on digestible content. Tasty, well-written, easily-absorbed nuggets of information make terrific quick reading, and they can whet the reader's appetite for the more substantial fare awaiting them in the pages of your publication. Mobile-friendly content, whether it takes the form of text, infographics, audio or video, needs to be scaled to the audience's availability just as websites need to scale to their devices.
Putting Mobile Apps in the Picture
Social apps such as Twitter and Facebook serve as an important gateway for all kinds of digital publishers, but as readers spend less time at their home computers and more time with their mobile devices, these apps may grow more critical for your publication's success than ever before. The only snag with these mega-gateways is the fact that they can grab advertiser revenue that more properly should go to you as the content creator. And in today's digital publishing world, ad revenue is something no publisher can tolerate less of.
One possible solution to this issue is the creation of your publication's own mobile app. The New York Times has already developed news, cooking, and real estate mobile apps, with variations for Apple, Kindle, Android and Windows devices, all downloadable from the App Store. These apps reinforce the newspaper's brand even as they secure an exclusive gateway relationship between publisher and reader. Could your publication benefit from a similar product?
Now's the time to get moving on your mobile strategy. Some smart adjustments could help ensure that your trade publication makes its mark on more smart devices, and that's -- well, it's just plain smart.