How to write content that works on a phone

Creating content for a phone based audience

So far in the world of Internet marketing, creating content has been easy. Well relatively easy. Basically, everyone has just been writing the same kind of content that worked on paper but has just publishing it online instead.

And it’s worked. Well kind of.

Recently though something of a shift change has begun which means your offline style content is likely to work less and less when it’s used online. Why, at some point in the future it might stop working online altogether.

More and more of the content you create is being read on phones or other mobile devices. In fact, depending on which figures you read it’s likely that about two thirds of everything you publish online is already being read not on a PC but on  phone, or perhaps a tablet.

And writing content for reading on a phone is not the same as writing content to be read on a PC, to say nothing of offline, on paper.

So, here are few tips I think you might find useful if you want to write better content for reading on a smartphone.

First of all, what are a few of the issues you have to contend with when writing content for mobile consumption?

* The page size is smaller. Even on today’s larger format smartphones. And by definition the font size is smaller too.

* The format is dynamically different. Scrolling content is very different to content that’s organised in pages.

* It’s so easy for your reader to swipe or flick away from whatever you’ve written. Much, much easier than turning a paper page or even clicking.

So let’s look at some tips for writing better mobile content ….

First of all, a few basics:

* Is your website site mobile friendly. Not just mobile compatible, but genuinely user-friendly?

* Is the layout of your site actually conducive to being accessed on a phone. You might find a few tweaks and changes, perhaps to simplify it, will help.

Next, let’s look at a few copywriting tips that can help you write better mobile content:

* As in offline content the headline is crucial in attracting the reader’s attention and encouraging them to read on. If possible – try to ask or ask/answer the question your reader might have been searching for the answer to.

* The first paragraph is absolutely paramount is continuing this process. Try to summarise the entire content in this paragraph.

* Short paragraphs work best. They’re easier to absorb and also easier to read. There’s a very good reason why one sentence paragraphs (although grammatically poor) are used so much in online content.

If you need to explain/add more detail to short paragraphs make use of links to more, ideally on separate tabs.

* Always include a call to action at the end. This is a proven technique which can be carried over from offline.

With mobile content try and provide a call to action or links to social media. Encouraging your reader to share your content to social media is one of the great advantages mobile content offers.

As well as writing with mobile readers in mind, also bear in mind that a few presentational tips can help. Simple, clear fonts and good colour contrast, ideally dark text against a white or very light background are always a help to mobile readers. While illustrations are good avoid oversized pics, garish colours and excessive animation (videos make great phone content though) which rarely work well on a PC and never work well on a phone.

Remember to test your content on different devices too. What is easy to read on one device might not be so easy to read on another.

At the end of the day the acid test is very much this: If you can’t be bothered to read your phone based content (or it’s just plain and simply hard to read) your readers probably won’t bother either. So, go back and take a second (and a third and fourth) look at what you’ve written.

Mark Hempshell is a copywriter and online content writer with over 20 years experience in creating both offline and online content.

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