Content strategy is all about matching visitor intent with the right message to meet user needs and business goals simultaneously. Finding the right match is already complicated, and adding in the source device sheds some light on visitors and traffic patterns.
Recent information from the Financial Times and The Guardian showing how users access these sites and sheds some insight onto user behavior. Both papers see evening and weekend spikes in mobile use in addition to weekday desktop usage.
The Guardian shares more data on their reader, and it's especially interesting to see that tablet users tend to use the desktop site more than either the mobile site or the tablet apps available.
Additionally, those tablet users fill in gaps left by other browsers. The white line in the slide below is tablet use on the Guardian's main site as opposed to their paid app. It shows a spike in evening use, right between prime time and bedtime. This all supports the tablet as a second screen tool and addition to the desktop.
Both FT and The Guardian saw more interest in arts and entertainment stories on tablets during the weekend, leading to a conclusion that devices don't cannibalize each other, but that users prefer to access content as comfortably as possible. It isn't comfortable to access arts and entertainment information at work with co-workers or a boss nearby, but it is very comfortable to do so at home, possibly as a second screen to a feature film. The tablet has the power to resolve those questions of what movies that actor has previously been in without leaving the comfort of the couch.
Sites can use this insight to adjust their editorial calendar and provide content that matches reader interest by time of day, day of the week and device. Similar to detailed PPC campaigns, SEO campaigns can get granular information to influence what content is produced when as well as how it is displayed. Depending on audience size and behavior, it might make sense to create mobile-specific content, as the Guardian has done with their app.
This threaded model helps plan if you need device-specific content, and which devices get that content:
High access by a certain type of device, or high conversions from a specific device, would justify content specifically for that device. The Guardian delivers specialized content to their mobile site, but that content is the same for tablet and smartphone users. But it actually follows a triple-thread approach in its app strategies. The apps are the third thread of content written specifically for iPad or iPhones. What Content For Which Device?
You probably see users looking at certain content on different devices already. In that case, follow your customers' lead. If you don't have enough data to base your strategy off current customer behavior, recent studies give general guidelines on customer needs and behavior, allowing you to forecast what content will make users happy.
In general, smartphone users look for local information while they're on the go. In survey after survey, smartphone users want to know if a close physical location is open. One recent study showed that 92 percent of smartphone users searched for a restaurant. Content for these types of searches should include basic contact information – address, phone number and operating hours – as well as a short description of the location highlighting why a visitor should choose that location.
Other firms have taken a sectionalized approach to content. Full content is written with a desktop in mind, and just certain sections of that content are shown for mobile devices. This approach is excellent for small businesses who need the essence of their homepage text to appear on their mobile site. Why keep it short? Smartphone users, generally, want to fulfill an immediate need.
Tablets, however, are used in a very different way. A Pew Internet study found that less than 30 percent of users read long-form content on a smartphone whereas 80 percent of tablet users do.
The same study showed that 43 percent of Americans have read long-form content on the web. So long-form certainly has its place, and that place is the tablet. Tablet landing pages should offer links to ebooks, white papers and other long-form content to maximize this channel's strengths.
Just as mobile optimization covers how content is displayed, mobile content strategy ensures that the right content is shown within that optimized interface. While general trends prepare companies for what's on the horizon, mobile content strategy should be based off of current user patterns.