Did you catch the YouTube video for Dollar Shave Club? Have you subscribed to any amazing audio podcasts lately? Are you getting any deal-of-the-day emails? Then you already have at least a passing awareness of content marketing.
Content marketing is weaponized storytelling, I like to say. What I mean is that, unlike other forms of marketing, the aim of a content marketing piece is to try to educate people, rather than push them immediately deeper into the funnel. It’s not so much persuasive material as it is entertaining, informative and potentially useful.
Those are the basics of content marketing, but content in a mobile-first world has a special meaning.
What’s different about the mobile-first world?
You sleep with your smartphone a few inches from your head. I know you do. It’s OK. Almost everyone reading this article does.
What you do not do is sleep with your laptop or your tower PC by your head. It’s either your mobile phone or your tablet. That’s the start of why there’s a mobile-first world. (For more on the mobile revolution, check out “Tapping In.")
And here’s why you should care about those smartphone and tablet users.
Chuck Martin, CEO of The Mobile Future Institute and author of the book The Third Screen
(Nicholas Brealy Publishing, 2011), says mobile devices generate about 20 percent of all U.S. web traffic. That includes tablets and smartphones, with smartphones accounting for the large majority. Today some 55 percent of U.S. cellphones are smartphones, Martin says, yet the percentage of companies having mobile-optimized websites falls in the range of 2 to 10 percent.
Nonetheless, many small-business owners are still marketing to customers and prospects as if they’re pleasantly ensconced behind a 20-inch monitor with a full keyboard and plenty of time to peruse the offerings. So how do you adapt to the mobile trend and get an edge on your competition?
Follow the rules of mobile-first content marketing.
• Embrace brevity. You have 300 words or fewer to reach someone via email or maybe as many as 500 words in an article on a website. Remember: In our world of 140 million Twitter users, a world that sends trillions of cellphone text messages every year, we have all started learning how to keep things simple. And brief.
• Be visual. You don’t have to have an account on Instagram or Pinterest, but that would at least help you understand the concept. People share photos much more often than text. Consider creating useful infographics, for instance. Use quotes-over-photos a bit more often in your outreach efforts. (Check out the app Over for iPhone to get a better handle on the capabilities of this fun, catchy marketing technique.) Bottom line: Practice making pictures speak for your brand.
• Consider podcasts. Audio podcasts are expected to boom this year. Venture capitalist Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers mentioned an interesting opportunity in her annual report: The average commuter has 52 minutes of unclaimed travel time each day. I started a new online show in October, and my website traffic has doubled and quadrupled every month since. Look into podcasting as a simple content-production option for commuters.
Please don’t file this article in the “I really should” pile, because it really belongs in the “I’m already late, but I could thrash my competition if I did this now” pile. A well-executed mobile strategy should quickly result in substantial revenue gains. This is the marketing world’s next big opportunity. Are you ready?