Why Brands Should Provide Content Based on Users, Not Just Their Mobile Device

Brands often create content strategies that cater to specific devices and their expected user behavior. Yet, is this really necessary?

Does smartphone and tablet user behavior differ so much that unique content strategies have to be crafted around each device, or should brands provide content that caters to the user regardless of their device?

According to the 2014 Mobile Behavior Report by ExactTarget, 91 percent of survey respondents said having access to content anyway they wanted it was somewhat or very important to them, and 83 percent said having a seamless experience across all devices was also somewhat or very important.

How Consumers Rate the Importance of Mobile Brand Factors

Let's look at why brands should provide content based on the user, rather than their mobile device.

Smartphone Users

Smartphone users are typically on the go. They want information quickly so they can take immediate action. Think calling a phone number, getting directions, scheduling an appointment, finding hours of operation, or placing an order, and so on.

Because on-the-go users expect quick information, we're seeing the rise of dedicated mobile websites that present only essential information for smartphone users with high purchase intent. However, according to the same Mobile Behavior Report, 54 percent of smartphone users complain that websites designed for smartphones, which the report refers to as "mobile-optimized," provide too little information.

So, is providing a stripped down version of your brand's website really the best strategy? In reality, not all smartphone users are in a hurry, and often do have the desire to digest more content if it's available.

So, brands must find a balance for providing smartphone users with a positive user-experience, without sacrificing content. In other words, brands should continue to prioritize pertinent, task-oriented content for on-the-go users with high purchase intent, while also making additional content available for the smartphone users that want it.

Tablet Users

Due to the larger screen size, tablets are preferred over smartphones for performing research and lean back activities, such as reading and watching videos. This is in sharp contrast to the typical on-the-go smartphone user behavior.

As a result, brands often serve the same content for tablets as they do for desktops, so lack of content isn't usually an issue. However, issues do arise when brands rely on their desktop user-interface to also serve as the tablet user-interface.

Navigating a website designed for desktop on a tablet can be cumbersome. The optimal solution is for brands to provide the same content available to desktop users, but in a user-interface designed for tablets.

The purchase intent of tablet users also differs from smartphone users in the fact that tablet users are more likely to utilize their device for researching products and services that may potentially result in a sale sometime in the future. So, although purchase intent may typically be lower for tablet users, tablets still play a fundamental role in facilitating the purchase process, particularly for products or services that require a high involvement decision.

Example

Take for example someone looking to buy a new 60-inch television. Before making the purchase, the user probably researches different models, product specifications, and buyer reviews. This research is most likely performed on a tablet or desktop in a home environment.

After the user narrows down their options, and goes to the store to physically see the models they're interested in, they now rely on their smartphone to reference that same information. Yet, the user-experience is disrupted when the smartphone version of that store's website is stripped down and missing the information the user is attempting to find.

This can lead to the user referring to a competing website to find the information they're looking for. If that competitor just so happens to also have better prices, the disruption in user-experience may ultimately result in a lost sale.

This is a perfect real-world example of why brands should provide their customers with a consistent cross-device experience. Failing to do so not only frustrates the customer and negatively impacts brand perception, but also disengages the customer, and gives them reason to refer to competing sources.

Conclusion

Consumers expect to have access to the same content regardless of device. Meeting this expectation can result in better brand perception and increased sales, while failing to meet this expectation can result in just the opposite.