The Myth of Mobile Content Marketing

The Myth of Mobile Content Marketing

Reader Comments (43)

  1. Hi Robert Bruce,

    Responsive design is a great idea to replace a smart App (esp. it cuts down the development cost) and the advantage that i could see is your website will be evenly branded across multiple screens. At the same time, through an App you can deliver customized content according to the screen size, i mean showing what’s more important than showing many things like a regular website….


  2. Good article on mobile. I work with a lot of local business owners and wordpress. A simple trick is to put the phone number above the fold as text not an image. This will make the number clickable to call. More calls = more cashflow. Q: does your mobile theme let you put the phone number as text in the header?

    • I can help with this. The eleven40 theme (see above) has a dedicated widget area called “page title”. You can insert HTML in this area and it shows up right under the header and navigation on every page – I use it for my optin form and it works wonders. It has almost doubled my conversion rates, which was ridiculously low before I started using eleven40.

      I’m sure this can work for your clients as well. And you’re right, more phone calls = more leads = more sales.

  3. My favorite podcast of yours so far is the one with Steven Pressfield. You have a way of peppering questions to your guest with a grounding manner, part of it with just the calmness of voice. Great post, I could swear that you took a previously excellent post and reworked it for the redone theme. Am I wrong? Way to hook from the start, bring in solid solutions and then sneak in the Prose.

  4. This is funny.. I actually deleted the [code] that made my eleven40 theme mobile friendly. Why? There were some elements that I added to the site (to the homepage and custom landing pages) that weren’t showing up correctly on my iPhone. I kept getting emails from people telling me that part of my site was “cut off” and they couldn’t read the text.

    Sucks cuz I really liked the look the mobile responsive code gave the site, but I had to make a choice. :/

    Great write up by the way Bruce..

    • Any thoughts on how to keep threaded comments still readable on mobile? If a conversation goes more than three deep it tends to render horribly in the mobile browser.

  5. It’s great when an article offers real and usable information. I’m sure that many readers, like me will save time and money with the information you’ve provided. The world of mobile devices seems to get more complicated with each new device or operating system that comes to market. The temptation to build a dedicated app, can seem very overwhelming at times – it seems everyone has one. Apps may indeed be useful for some applications, but as you’ve pointed out, building an app may indeed not be the best way to distribute content. The Olympic motto is Faster, Higher, Stronger. But for mobile distribution, the might might well be, Easier, Cheaper, Simpler. Thanks very much for offering up practical advice that really will be helpful for those seeking to go mobile without losing their shirt, or their mind in the process.

  6. WordPress always will be on of my favorite sites for building a website. As soon as I get a little better understanding of it I’m going to redesign ours. Right now it’s the free version and I’m new to this, but I wouldn’t consider anything else. I’m been familiarizing myself with genesis in the last few weeks. Love the things you can do with that. Thanks for all the information Copyblogger has given me over the past few months!

  7. Great article. I used WPtouch WordPress plugin, but it wasn’t compatible with some themes’ shortcodes. WPtouch rendered the shortcodes as plain text. So I switched to a responsive layout. With Twenty Eleven, “responsive” is the default for WP, so I’m glad to see theme developers hop on the bandwagon. Some businesses can afford custom mobile theme and app development, but for budget-minded small businesses, a responsive layout is the most affordable option — especially if it’s baked into the theme.

  8. Have been a fan of the studiopress WordPress theme products and currently use the balance theme for a new site.

    Was anxious for the full realization of HTML 5 in a WordPress theme for mobile devices and desperately didn’t want another plugin or the prospect of developing an app for content delivery (which I viewed as another form of digital share cropping … But that’s for another discussion).

    The only thing I really wish both Brian’s would finally do with all the theme products at studiopress is make the e-news email sign up form widget come ready for out of the box functionality to use with email providers like Aweber and mailchimp … Because all the mobile responsiveness would be a waste if we couldn’t capture subscribers from those “small little computers” we’re carrying around in our pockets.

  9. I like the responsive design, and I’ve been converting most of my sites that way (using eleven forty and streamline) but I am running into issues with sites that are monetized with ads – particularly if I’ve traditionally used AdSense. Google isn’t quite on board with responsive design yet – they do detect the smaller viewport, and serve a “mobile-ish” sized ad, but it’s a little too wide, and breaks eleven forty, at least on my iPhone. And using the traditional ads (such as in a sidebar) is problematic – assuming you scroll down with your finger, you don’t want to generate accidental clicks.

    So for now, I’m using the responsive design AND a plugin, because the advertising world hasn’t quite caught up yet. (I’ve been told there are other solutions such as swapping ads out with jquery, but I don’t know how to do that as yet)

    On my sites that do not have advertising (such as my own site), the responsive Streamline works just great.

  10. Although I think you’ve outlined one solution, methinks calling mobile content marketing a “myth” is a bit much. One-website-to-rule-them all is an option, but there are plenty of people that prefer content-based mobile apps to mobile websites. And responsive design is a great solution, but doesn’t always create the best experience for the user.

    Trying to find one solution that works for all means of consumption can be a dangerous proposition. Creating content specifically for the device being used to consume it is the ideal. That isn’t always possible — The cost of money and time may prevent a company taking a device-focused strategy. But let’s at least agree that one comes to this solution not because it is the best for the USER, but because it is best for the BUSINESS. And what’s best for the business isn’t always best for the user.

    And often, you can come to a solution that is good for the user AND the business. Have you ever used Wired’s app on your tablet? It is a great example of a company that took the device into account, and created a product that one could not create on a website. Their users love it.

    And in terms of mobile content marketing being a myth, I disagree with that as well. Again, what is the use case for someone visiting a website on their laptop vs. someone visiting a website on their phone? Aren’t they likely to be in a different situation or have a different consumption habit with the device? Wouldn’t I want to market to someone looking at their phone at a tradeshow differently than someone sitting at their desk on a laptop in the middle of the day?

    The overall problem I had with this post wasn’t that the solution Robert outlines was a bad one…On the contrary, it is a fine option. The problem I had with the post was the position that it was the only right option. A focus on the user’s consumption habits on different devices benefits the interaction with the content, and thus the marketer.

    • Ryan,

      Yep, there’s always going to be an exception, but within the context of the content publisher AND the audience, I’m arguing that responsive design is the biggest win.

      You can’t please all the people all the time, etc., but responsive design eliminates the “mobile content” distinction enough, to allow the vast majority of publishers and audiences to get on with creating and consuming.

        • Have you seen what those sites look like? Generic unbranded blech. Compare that to a responsive design that adapts existing branded elements of the site for a more consistent experience across platforms.

          Maybe it’s just me, but WP Touch was never an option for Copyblogger. I’ve worked too hard to build this thing to slip it into a generic wrapper for the platforms that are growing the fastest in use.

          • The beauty of responsive web design is that you don’t need to define mobile. You no longer have to ask, what is the cut-off? There are so many different devices that responsive web design offers a form of future proofing your website. The same people who go for a plugin will use a free WordPress design and it shows. I have been looking at Genesis to base a child theme off of but Prose being responsive cinches that for me. It really is well worth the money just to be able to use the Genesis core.

  11. ““Excellent,” I whispered, deep within the halls of the Bruce Family Compound.”

    well said, Mr. Bruce. Easily the Copyblogger Line of the Week.

    • I must say that I also loved that line very much, Bruce! The rest of the post is very nice, too! Congrats and keep up the good work!

  12. Robert – thank you for the push for Responsive Design. You are right, it is the future of “mobile” in that everything should be responsive to mobile devices. We just redid our website (on WordPress) and incorporated a really cool responsive design. Even our large Rotator is interactive on mobile devices – you can slide it with your finger – taking the responsive theme concept one more step in the right direction.

  13. Nice article. Responsive web design offers many benefits, including a streamlined content strategy, a consistent brand message, and a reliable user experience across all viewports (if done correctly). There are many WordPress themes and frameworks utilizing responsive web design. I prefer designing my own framework, but Skeleton, Super Skeleton, Bones, and WPBS are a few I like. I’m also a fan of using the HTML5 Boilerplate and Twitter Bootstrap as a base (when appropriate). Studio Press is, of course, also a great option that comes with many premium benefits.

    Building a new site and converting an existing site are two completely different processes. Converting an existing site isn’t as easy as switching themes or making an existing theme ‘responsive.’ I suppose it can be done, but the end result may not provide the desired ux. Therefore, having a clear content and design strategy is still very important.

    • I don’t think Robert was saying that having a responsive site was the end all to content strategy but rather one part in the process. And in terms of content strategy, building a new site or converting an existing site are exactly the same process. You’re going to think through it regardless and implement what you feel is best whether you’re starting from scratch or tweaking here and there.

      Conversion in terms of easiness is also completely relative. For example if you are running a blog on one of our existing themes and haven’t done major customization it really is as easy as switching themes to gain a responsive layout and better mobile conversion rates.

  14. Haha! I remember long ago, in a previous life, I coded websites and had to make them liquid, which means making the width 100% instead of a fixed pixel width. Every color going horizontal the width of the design became a table row with that color as the background color. If a portion of a graphic landed in this area we’d have to put that graphic piece as the background image of that row and align it properly. Then we’d test in multiple browsers and versions and add a ton of javascript hacks for each version. Reporting on all those browser results was the true Drudge Report.

  15. Responsive is really where it’s at, and it’s something that I’m thinking of First when I redesign my website for this next round.

    But I would like to suggest that there is such a thing as mobile content marketing, but it all depends on the circumstance. Places like museums that offer free walking tours, or businesses that utilize services like Gowalla to offer tourist attractions and a little extra background, or a Pilates studio that gives a tour of the best places to buy equipment within a 3-5 mile radius of their location, couldn’t that be considered mobile content marketing?

    It uses the same principals, but the application is specific to mobile only environments. For the businesses that are locally based, it’s important to wrap their head around that paradigm in order to become extra relevant and not just think like people are going to be viewing their website from… whereever…

    Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but it’s something to think about…

    P.s The drudge report is awesome!

  16. This will be awesome for new designs or redesigns in the future in many cases. But far, far more trouble than adding a simple mobile plugin to current WordPress sites. All you have to do is get the logo right, select your most important buttons, and you’re done. My preference is something that loads fast and gets me the info I need. Don’t need any flash and dash. But on your full site, accessed by a desktop, laptop, or tablet, you sometimes want to take full advantage of things that would choke a 3g phone. If you cater too much to phones, you lose on desktop. For now, we’re keeping them separate with a simple addition of a simple mobile interface.

  17. In the context of a blog site, I think the responsive theme is the perfect solution. However in the larger scope of user experience, there’s a fundamental difference in what we want as ‘content’ between the desktop vs mobile end:

    I read recently (I thought it was CB but I can’t find the post) something like- “that giant slider of high-res photos of your gourmet dishes might be perfect for the desktop user checking out your restaurant, but the mobile user is most likely trying to find location and/or browse menu.” In this case a responsive theme falls short in delivering the appropriate content.

    I’m just now, myself, sorting out how to present all the various options for mobile UX to various client types. For all my coaches and blogging-intensive independants, responsive theme will be perfect. For others, generic brandable web apps I can redeploy over and over will be a perfect and affordable solution. Others will want fully custom web experiences (which means I get to use full creative juices!). But I want to *fully* agree that developing native, downloadable app is a complete waste of time and money for *most* cases. I think your Drudge example is proof enough of that.

  18. Great article, couldn’t agree more. Though I’m not using Genesis or Prose, I -did- just install a responsive theme on our site. I think I’m going to be pushing clients to do the same in the future.

    There are still a few bugs in most of the responsive designs I’ve seen, including the one I’m using – video not resizing, causing the page to load improperly on mobile devices – some of the “dynamic” areas of the site not working properly when combined with other elements. Small things like that. But I’m still glad I made the switch – I have the potential to reach anybody now.

  19. Wow! This is a totally different perspective as compared to the general thinking out there. Mobile Responsive Design is a brand new term to me but it makes sense. Personally, I would think that the apps development for tablets and smartphones would continue to soar but this new perspective (at least to me) warrants a review in terms of it’s cost and administration effectiveness.

    Thanks for the sharing.


  20. I certainly agree that an app is useless for many publishers. And building a mobile version of your desktop site is a good first step. That puts you in the top 25% of publishers.

    However, there’s certainly more that can be done to deliver an exceptional mobile experience via the web. One obvious strategy is to make a local tie-in. If you’re Kraft Foods, for example, and you’re publishing on, you could serve up recipes that are popular in certain geographies. You could serve up location finders for local grocery stores–or coupons for products that are popular in a certain location.

    The point is that a mobile web strategy can go so much farther than just a mobile version… Think about the needs of your mobile audience. What are they looking for? How are they different? Where are they located. Once you’ve understood the mobile context, then design your mobile site for those needs.

  21. Robert wrote: “In the future all of our StudioPress themes will be mobile responsive”

    I’m interested specifically in the Enterprise theme, on which I have expended some time and effort. Would that be on your list, or is it only for new themes?

  22. I do agree we need to make an ” all for one and one for all” system, but until we get there, we will have scattered sites and apps. Some sites are great at making their offers usable on the bog screens as well as the little ones. So for now, marketing both is what we are stuck with.

  23. Excellent article, Robert. Thank you. When I first began pondering the Mobile mountain, the variety of proposed solutions–install this plugin, buy this app, sign up with Mobify or MoUse–set my head to spinning. Thank God I remembered I am a StudioPress member. I went to the blog and discovered my new site (powered by the eleven40 theme) is already Mobilized. Yes! You folks rock.

  24. Good design always rules out. It always seems that we make things more complicated than they need to be. Not that good design is easy, but it is simpler, with less moving parts. What some may call an elegant solution. Thanks for the great thoughts Robert

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