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Harnessing the power of mobile for content marketing on all screens

harnessNowadays, everyone seems to be all worked up about marketing via mobile devices. We’re spending more and more time digesting messages via our portable gadgets, which are in turn becoming more and more powerful, so this is the logical next frontier for content marketing.

Sure, there’s plenty of talk about potential solutions for agile SMS marketing, app-based marketing and the like, but those initiatives are in their infancy. The fact is, smartphones have already taken over the cellphone market, which means that today people are emailing and browsing the web on devices that don’t have the display and processing capabilities found in computers.

Over a quarter of all emails are already opened via tablets and smartphones. So if your email marketing and article marketing is not optimized for mobile displays, you’re missing out on big opportunities. It’s that simple.

Email works better than other mobile messages

Nearly a third of mobile phone users have made a purchase after receiving a promotional email according to a survey by StrongMail and Forrester Consulting. While that may not seem like a terribly high rate, consider it in contrast to purchase rates of nine percent and six percent after receiving SMS and in-app messages, respectively. And when you consider the low cost of email marketing compared to those other mobile-friendly conduits, the mobile market is definitely one to consider when planning your brand’s email marketing.

An audience with time to kill

Smartphone owners always have something to do when they stand in line, ride in the elevator, or commute to work. Email sits and waits until just the right moment when the recipient is ready to read it – which gels perfectly with the reasons your newsletter subscribers opted in to begin with. Unlike SMS, which arrives with a sense of urgency, and in-app messages, which interrupt your productivity (or procrastina-tivity), email is polite and non-invasive.

And the mobile crowd is self-selected to be hungry for branded storytelling. Approximately 60 percent of smartphone users interact with brands via mobile devices, which is four times higher than people without smartphones.

frogmanThe StrongMail/Forrester study found that 65 percent of smartphone users were open to receiving a promotional email once a week from known brands. On the other hand, a similar number said they were unwilling to receive SMS and in-app promotional messages.

Designing for mobile

According to StrongMail/Forrester, the two most common complaints reported by mobile users when interacting with brands via their smartphones are:

1. Email templates that are not optimized for mobile viewing, and
2. Links that take them to websites that are not optimized for mobile devices.

Today, around half of America’s smartphones are running on Google’s Android OS, with the other half split between Apple’s iOS, RIM BlackBerries and more. But the principles of how to present your information to everyone are relatively constant.

Here at Managed for Mimi, we’re huge proponents of single-column, full-width email layouts. This allows for the greatest flexibility across platforms and resolutions. When smartphones render email content, reading the text requires zero lateral scrolling, no matter how much the user wants to zoom in or out, which is a major plus. And with single-column email promotions that are coded properly, the images will more easily resize to user-preferred widths too.

At risk of delving into more complicated territory, to make your website easily accessible to mobile devices, you’ve got to follow the principles of “responsive” design.

Responsive design is a lengthy discussion in its own right, but suffice it to say that today’s best site developers always publish pages that work equally well on desktops and laptops as they do on mobile screens. When you succeed in getting mobile users to click through to your website, it’s imperative to not drive them away with usability issues like clunky buttons, tiny text, Flash elements that don’t load, or ceaseless scrolling.

With nearly half of Americans over the age of 12 already carrying around smartphones, and with the global smartphone population on pace to hit one billion by 2014, you want to get out in front of the teeming masses. Make sure that your emails are being read and that click-throughs are not user experience dead ends.

Photos courtesy of flickr user Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons licenses.

About Harry Rubenstein

Harry Rubenstein has been living and breathing web content since he joined his first startup in 1999. Harry serves as Product Director of Managed for Mimi and Co-Director of its parent organization Action Packed Media.