How to Capture the Mobile User

Someday more people will use tablets than laptops.

Mobile use has grown faster than many people predicted. According to a Pew Internet Project study, 91% of American adults have a cell, and nearly 60% have a smartphone. Tablet users make up about 34% of the population.

Perhaps the most interesting growth has been with an older audience. CNN says although the fastest initial growth in recent years has been the most likely-younger people-the fastest jumps are now seen in the 50- to 64-year-old age group.

Americans depend on their mobile devices. Nearly 70% regularly check for messages and alerts, even when they haven’t heard a notification, and 29% can’t imagine not having mobile.

CNN suggests that people find mobile so handy and simple, they don’t bother sitting down to use a desktop or even a laptop computer. What does this mean for you? You need to find a way to capture the mobile user.

How American Use their Mobile Devices

The Pew study reveals some interesting facts about the way Americans use mobile devices. Weather comes out at the top, with 77% of smartphone users saying they check the forecast at least occasionally; 56% check the weather every day. News grabs 64% of users, and 36% can’t go 24 hours without checking current events.

CNN underscores the fact that smartphones are made for apps and Internet access. Making a call sometimes seems like an extra, not the primary function of mobile devices. More and more, mobile is evolving into miniature computers that just happen to let you make a call. That’s a real switch.

To build your audience, offer people what you know they’ll use, not what you want them to use. And the more convenient the offering, the more likely they are to accept it.

Responsive Design Makes Mobile Convenient

There are two ways to make mobile convenient for your audience. Internet access lets smartphone users visit a primary website, but the text is tiny, images require a lot of load time, and it’s generally inconvenient. Mobile design scales back on data to make the experience simpler for users. When you visit a website’s mobile counterpart, you’ll notice a lot less clutter.

Responsive design makes mobile better. No two smartphones look the same, and tablets have much larger displays. Responsive design is intuitive, and automatically scales the content to fit the display.

Consistent Branding Makes Cross-Platform Publishing Work for You

Mobile isn't just for soccer moms, hipsters, and college kids.
Mobile isn’t just for soccer moms, hipsters, and college kids.

Having a presence on as many platforms as possible broadens your publication’s reach. But you have to take measures for consistency. From apps to mobile sites to a main website, and even print copies, branding is critical. That’s how your audience makes the connection-that’s the thread that ties it all together.

Simplicity is key. A consistent brand that’s recognizable at a glance doesn’t have to mean everything looks identical. That would negate a lot of the benefit of mobile. But you do need that common thread. Let users know they can access your publication using a smartphone, tablet, and a home computer, and most importantly, make it easy to find and recognize your brand.

Working in concert with consistent branding is click-through access. Links let users navigate from a newsletter to a mobile site with just a tap on a smartphone display.

Mobile has surprised a lot of people, and the surprises keep coming. Fifteen years ago, your grandmother might not have owned a cell phone. Now she can use her smartphone to buy movie tickets so she doesn’t have to stand in line.

Mobile has captured its audience; now it’s your job to capture the mobile user.

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