August 1, 2016

1194 words 5 minutes.

How Mobile Killed Content As We Know It.

A man using his smartphone to read.

Smartphones have changed the way we use the internet forever. Consider this:

  • 91% of smartphone owners use their phones for ideas when completing tasks.
  • 82% of users consult their phones when they’re in a store deciding what to buy.

If your content marketing strategy doesn’t target mobile users, you could be missing out on a lot of potential customers.

There’s a very good chance that you are reading this on a smartphone right at this very moment. Smartphone use is on the rise, and that has changed the image of your ideal customer.

So just how has mobile browsing affected the way we read and shop, and what does that mean for content marketers?

How Smartphones Are Changing Our Brains

To understand how smartphones have impacted content, it’s important to understand how they’ve impacted our readers.

The human brain has evolved with technology and tools, from cavemen with spears to the printing press to the early personal computers of the 70s and 80s. Mobile devices are simply another tool for our brains to adapt to.

The human brain is highly plastic- meaning it adapts to its environment, which includes the tools and tech available to it. New technologies change how brain cognition works.

Our brains are actually changing with increased smartphone use.

The ability to use our phones to find answers to any question we might have is impacting the way we use our memories and analytic thinking skills.

But despite what critics would have you believe, smartphones aren’t making us stupid. They are changing the way we think- but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Thanks to the internet, more content is available to today’s readers than ever before. All of that new information is exciting! Smartphone users can access entire libraries of information with the swipe of a thumb.

People Don’t Read Like They Used To

As our brains adapt to smartphones, the way we read is changing. People are getting better at sifting through an abundance of content to find what they want.

Today’s readers skim content. If a headline or sentence grabs their attention as they skim, they may decide your post is worth dedicating more time to and go back to read the whole thing.

People just don’t have the time to read everything available to them.

“If I waited for the kind of time I used to have—sitting down for five hours—I wouldn’t read at all.” Andrew Vestal, smartphone user, as told to the New York Times.

Mobile devices aren’t good for longer reads. If someone is on their phone, they’re probably on the move and don’t have a lot of time to commit to a ten-page article.

Mobile readers don’t sit down with a nice long blog post- they read in snippets.

So, what does this shift mean for content marketers who are writing to an audience that dishes out their attention differently than previous generations did?

People don’t want to read a 25-page PDF on their phones. While long-form content still has its place as a great source of information and in-depth analysis, it’s important to adapt your content marketing strategy to today’s readers.

How To Modernize Your Content Marketing

If your content marketing offers are going to work in today’s small-screen, short-attention span space, your content strategy must adapt.

Gone are the days where your strategy includes offers meant to be consumed on a desktop - such as text heavy ebooks, guides, and PDFs. Mobile has killed this content strategy, and it’s never coming back to life.

Here are three tips to adapt to content marketing today.

#1: Maintain a ‘Mobile-First’ Mentality

It’s crucial that your content marketing strategy starts with the mobile experience.

One of the best tips for content marketers and bloggers creating mobile-friendly content comes from literary giant Ernest Hemingway.

Be brief.

Hemingway once famously said, “big emotions don’t have to come from big words.”

Getting to the point will make your content easier to understand, and will allow your blog to fit easily into your readers' daily lives.

Does that mean long-form content is dead and buried?

Absolutely not.

Neil Patel believes in the value of longer content. Patel urges content creators to adapt to mobile-copywriting; creating mobile-optimized copy for mobile users.

  • Tighten your writing. Be concise.
  • Create short, strong headlines.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Embrace white space.

Hemingway advised writing less. Patel’s advice is to write better. If you are going to create content for a mobile audience, it pays to take the advice of both.

#2: Shake Things Up

It’s time to diversify your content offers. Mobile users don’t want to download a 45-page ebook when their phone’s memory is limited and their screen is too small to enjoy reading it. But have no fear, that doesn’t limit your content offers.

In fact, it does exactly the opposite.

The shift to mobile opens gives marketers exciting new frontiers to explore.

What advanced content can you offer your readers instead of another PDF or ebook?


  • Podcasts and audio versions of long-form content
  • Charts, infographics, and other visual content.
  • Quizzes
  • Videos

Offering valuable advanced content is still the best way to give your call-to-action oomph and turn readers into leads. Diversifying will help you stay relevant and appeal to all of your readers- especially the mobile ones.

#3: Ditch Outdated Techniques

The impact of mobile has dramatically changed the field of content marketing.

If you’ve been on the job a while some of the techniques you rely on may already be outdated.

Smartphones have officially laid a few well-known marketing techniques to rest:

  • Invasive Ads: Your customers aren’t watching that pop-up ad or video you paid for; mobile gives them other options now. They’ve installed an app like AdBlock, and they’re not even seeing it. Or they’ve clicked away from your site when a pop-up ad blocks their screen.

  • Vanity Press Releases And Posts: Mobile readers don’t want to hear why you’re the bee’s knees, they only have so much time and data available to them. They want the information they came for.

  • Spam Emails: If you’re making it hard for readers on your email list to unsubscribe, or are sending multiple emails per day, you’re not winning yourself happy new customers. The space people have to store emails in their phone is limited. Unnecessary emails will be filtered out with their spam blocker.

Today’s mobile-first content marketing strategies need to address the problems your customers are facing and answer the questions they have. Be sure to use demographic data and targeted offers to specifically meet the needs of your potential leads and clients. (And remember not to bombard them with too many emails, either.)

Smartphones are an exciting new part of the internet age. They’ve changed our lives, including the way we think and read.

If you produce content, whether it be news stories, novels, or blog posts, it’s important to know how mobile use will impact the way readers view your writing.

The rise in smartphone use doesn’t have to be scary. It won’t make us dumber, and it doesn’t have to hurt your business. With the right content marketing strategy, you’ll thrive in the mobile age.

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