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Why the Massive Move to Mobile Computing Changes Content Marketing Rules

Rethink Your Content Marketing by Aiming at Billions of Buyers on the Move

For those of us who been around computing since the early days of PCs, the consumer move to mobile devices and away from desktop and even laptop computers is astonishing–and maybe a little terrifying.

Smartphones Soar

First, smartphones such as the Blackberry, Nokia, and iPhone entered the picture. But, as recently as 2007 total smartphone sales were only 122 million. Alex Cocotas of BI Intelligence predicts that annual smartphone sales will hit 1.5 billion units by 2016. That’s 10X growth in less than 10 years.

Tablets Triumph

In the first year of its existence, 1981, the IBM PC sold 100,000 units. Most of those buyers were geeks or leading-edge business users. Apple’s new iPad sold 3 million units in its first weekend and more than 50 million units since the introduction of the first iPad just 2 years ago.

As Tim Bajarin reported in in April of 2012:

While the iPod and even the iPhone have been groundbreaking in their own right, it is perhaps Apple’s iPad tablet that may have the most profound impact on the world of personal computing since it is the first computer that is truly portable and easy to carry with you everywhere you go. Yes, the iPhone and smartphones are more portable, but because of their small screens, their computing capabilities are limited. But with their larger screens, the iPad and similar tablets deliver much of the power of a laptop (minus the keyboard) and almost as much flexibility as you can get from bigger portable computers — but in a much smaller package.

IPad users still include geeks and business types but they’re just as likely to include your six-year-old and your grandmother. When I visited our local Apple store, the average customer was a senior citizen who really wanted to learn how to use their iPad effectively. Of course, they all seemed to be carrying iPhones, too. You can bet that their mobile devices will soon–or may already have displaced their PCs.

Social Media Goes Mobile

In research released April 13, 2012, eMarketer predicted a massive shift to mobile devices:

… by 2014, 33.3% of the U.S. population will visit social networking sites using their mobile phones at least once per month. That’s up from 18.7% at the end of 2011. Most of those visits are expected to go to Facebook. In fact, eMarketer estimates that the number of mobile Facebook users in the U.S. will jump from 49.4 million at the end of 2011 to 93.9 million in 2014… In other words, not only will people consume more content via mobile devices in the coming years, but they’ll find much of that content through mobile social networking activities.

IPad and Its Mobile Cousins to the Information Rescue

The iPad, iPhone and their competitive cousins are what we really want from our information devices. They turn on immediately. They’re super responsive. They connect easily to the Internet. They are both powerful and portable. And, perhaps best of all, they don’t rely on a resource hog of an operating system that hangs up when you most need it.

For those of us who do a lot of writing, building complex spreadsheets or other very sophisticated applications, we will probably have to hang on to our desktop or laptop computers. But for many of you and, most importantly, for many of your customers, the use of computing devices is primarily:

  • to connect and communicate wherever we are whenever we want
  • to consume information via the Internet, including e-mail, news, web-based content
  • to get our social media fix
  • to consume locally based information from word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDF files, etc.
  • to write a e-mail or text messages
  • to listen to music, watch videos, watch TV or movies
  • to play games
  • to research purchases.
  • to shop online
  • to pick a local retailer so we can buy right now.

We can do all of that with an increasingly rich and robust set of mobile computing devices that include not only the iPad, the Kindle Fire, Android tablets but the iPhone, Blackberry, Android smartphones.

That means that just when you thought it was safe to go back into the content marketing water, you will have to do substantial rethinking. But I think it’s more a matter of adjustment than a dramatic change in your approach to your customers.

How to Take Advantage of This Content Marketing Mobile Inflection Point

You are almost certainly using the Internet as a primary content marketing weapon.  And, it is probably delivering significant a better results than many of your traditional advertising and marketing practices. Now, begin to think slightly differently as your customers go mobile for much of the information they consume.

  • Make sure that your website is fully readable on the most important mobile devices which would include the iPhone, the Android, and the iPad. That may mean giving up Flash. At a minimum, it’s critical that any flash on your website takes a secondary rather than a primary role on your home and on your landing pages.
  • Consider working with a developer to create an iPhone or an iPad app that will take advantage of the unique capabilities of these two pervasive computing devices.  In particular, think about how the touchscreen might improve your users interaction with your content.
  • Get social with Facebook, Twitter or other applications that can reach out to your customers with special offers while they’re on the move and in a buying mood.
  • Provide special offers, coupons, or dedicated discounts that mobile users can bring with them directly on their smart phone or iPad.  Don’t make them print something out if they can to show it to you on their mobile device.

We are at the beginning of a fundamental transformation in the way that we all consume information. Our customers and their computers are on the move as never before.  Just as you may have tried to reach traveling prospects with billboard ads on the highway, now it’s time to make sure that you’re connecting with them on the virtual highway.

The good news is that, unlike driving a Corvette on Route 66, your prospects can slow down to pay attention to what you have to say. Just make sure that the new mobile information you’re providing is still relevant and compelling as all good content marketing must be.

More Stories By Newt Barrett

Newt is a leading thinker on the new discipline of content marketing. He urges marketers to think like publishers by delivering essential, relevant, and timely information that makes customers smarter and wiser–and much more likely to become buyers. Newt is a successful publishing executive with more than 25 years of experience as both a manager and business owner. He has launched profitable publications in the high tech arena for both CMP and Ziff-Davis. He was an early player on the web in 1996 as Publishing Director of an early Yahoo competitor, NetGuideLive. As an entrepreneur, he launched Southwest Florida Business and in the late nineties, later selling them to Gulfshore Media. His publication still thrives under its new name, Gulfshore Business. In addition to his sales and marketing skills, Newt is a published writer for Business Currents and Gulfshore Business magazines. He writes on topics as diverse as healthcare, education, public policy, growth, business best practices, and technology. He knows how to build great brands that serve client marketing needs. He is comfortable driving dramatic market-driven changes. Newt is recognized as a leader with the ability to move teams in new, unexplored directions. He is effective in high level sales and marketing conversations with senior executives in client organizations of all sizes. He delivers successful consulting engagements to improve products, people, and processes.

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