Making the most of mobile


Photo courtesy of Line Industries

We’ve witnesses a massive change in consumer behavior since the launch of the iPhone kicked off the smartphone revolution in 2007. In the past eight years we’ve had nine versions of iOS and 11 versions of Android (depending on how you count them). Hardware and software have improved every year causing a rapid uptake in comsumer adoption of smartphones. Facebook has seen a 23% increase YOY in mobile MAUs and made approximately 78% of its advertising revenue from mobile in Q3 2015.

The most important change smartphones bring is most people now have the internet everywhere at anytime

The most important change smartphones bring is consumers now have the internet everywhere at anytime. No longer shackled to the desktop and broadband connections they can act on a whim and Google something they hear, see or read about. Google saw this change coming and updated the mobile SERPs to indicate when a website is mobile friendly. This resulted in the so called mobilegeddon back in April 2015 when they started to favour mobile friendly sites in search results on mobile devices. With searches on mobile devices overtaking desktop searches in the summer of 2015 it was no mistake that they made these changes.


In blunt terms you should have already got your mobile house in order

What does this mean for publishers? In blunt terms you should have already got your mobile house in order, anything you do should already be mobile optimised. That means every channel a reader is likely to come in contact with. This really becomes apparent when you start to push a campaign to your site from social. A recent campaign we ran for which was almost completely driven by social saw 85.95% traffic from mobile and the follow up email campaign had a mobile open rate of 65.8%. The fact that we had every part of the campaign optimised meant our CTR to pre-order was very high and even had his book charting six months before publication.

Optimising means you need to take a mobile first approach and by that I mean one where you actually pick up your mobile and test everything on that first. If the consumer is only going to experience your campaign on a mobile then that’s the way you should to. Even better is turning off wifi and using your mobile network connection. Optimise for the worst conditions and you’ll excel in the best. You also need to test with the touch screen, not just make your browser the width of a mobile screen. Forms, buttons and dropdowns all behave differently on an actual device and can make a big difference to the success of your campaign.

How does a consumer having the internet everywhere at anytime change what we do? Google have answered this brilliantly with what they call ‘Micro Moments’. It’s a way of thinking how best to deliver in a landscape of fractured moments and making them work for your campaign. I’ve condensed this into two small things, search and smart targeting.

Mobile has changed how people search, it was already shifting but I believe that having a personal device has sped up the change to longer, more personal searches. A quick look at the Google Trends gives a snapshot of how we’ve shifted from short phrases to longer more complex questions. The fact that you can activate voice search using a hot word and get your phone to start a search will mean we see more complex and diverse searches (you can’t see autocomplete when searching by voice). Our front list and back lists are full of rich content that could answer many of these questions, we just need to find ways of surfacing them. Helping people discover these books could be as simple as using content marketing or delivering a rich and more modern version of our metadata in an API. An API is an application programming interface, which allows one authorised application to read and manipulate data in another.

Smart targeting is really just thinking about when best way of getting your message to a consumer when have an internet connected device on them all the time. This could be as simple as a well timed tweet, email to a list that predominantly opens on mobile or a paid social campaign. When we did this for our extracts website it drive almost 80% mobile traffic, with users spending over five minutes on the extract and a high CTR to retailers.

The extracts website was built with a mobile first philosophy. Previously an extract was a PDF, which isn’t a great mobile experience or easily shareable. We couldn’t look at the data or run analytics on them. Epubs are essentially a webpage and it seemed pretty obvious we should leverage that, so we built our site into the ebook production process. The front end was designed to be mobile first which meant we tested first on our devices and only really worried about the desktop version at the end of the development process. This approach has paid off with mobile traffic at 48% and tablet traffic at 18%, desktop only makes up 34% of the traffic (last sixty days 2/12/2015).


Photo courtesy of Line Industries

Recent updates to iOS and Android have also brought with them some interesting discovery moments baked right into the OS itself. Google Now will take content from RSS feeds and tell you when sites you often visit have new content, or even suggest new sites that people who visit sites you view also have read. Apple News is a more traditional curated approach which again uses RSS and requires you to add it to the app. With the shift to content marketing and growing communities these are two simple ways of growing your reach which is baked right into the OS of the two dominant platforms.

At the talk I proposed that we had a desktop free day, whilst that might be a bit extreme, it is possible to do a lot on your mobile (90% of this was written on my mobile). I imagine most of what you do outside of work is on your mobile, so you are already well versed in what works well and what doesn’t. Sometimes it’s easy to forget we are also consumers and need to apply that to our work.

Further reading: Benedict Evans is probably one of the smartest commentators on mobile. Craig Mod wrote this way back in 2012 and it has really informed by thinking especially around extracts. Ben Thompson touches on why Apple News and Facebook Instant are needed. Especially relevant to mobile.

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