Make it Work

August 27th, 2013

Are You Prepared for the Mobile Rush?

Can you imagine a world without smartphones? It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, they were non-existent. Today, some estimates value the app economy at more than $20 billion.

It’s critical that freelance writers adapt to this sector.

Cellphone users are sharing content, downloading apps, exchanging emails, and scouring the web for information.

According the Pew Center, the rate of these activities is increasing at an exponential pace. Businesses, from startups to large companies, are committing resources to meet consumer mobile demand.

“As we move deeper into a service-oriented economy, the ‘app economy’ will take on greater meaning, as entrepreneurs and mega-corporations alike spin app development into profitable business lines,” wrote Joe McKendrick for ZDNet.

In other words, the marketing world needs writers who ‘get it.’

Start from the user’s perspective

“On mobile, UX is everything,” said marketing consultant and blogger Chris Kilbourn. “Marketers need to create an experience that’s simple and easy to view on the screen. That means no chunks of text, no lengthy product descriptions, and no leaving readers hanging without calls to action.”

Kilbourn recommends that writers begin by asking themselves practical and logistical questions.

“Where are they when they use a mobile device? What device specifically are they using? What is the size of their screen?,” he said. “How long do they have to view your content, purchase your product, or subscribe to your service? Those are all questions you need to ask yourself before writing copy.”

Know your priorities

With more than 20 years as a freelance writer, Sharon Hurley Hall emphasizes that the key to great writing is to prioritize what users value most.

“As a mobile user, when I visit a site, I’m looking for the most important information at the start of an article, so I know if it’s worth reading; plenty of headings to guide me to the sections I need to read and a summary of key takeaways in case I missed anything,” she explained. “It’s the same as writing good web content, but it needs to be even easier to navigate for mobile users.”

Smartphone users are impatient and don’t have time to waste.

“As I know from my own experience, if it’s too hard to find information on a mobile site, I’ll leave within seconds and may never come back,” Hall said.

Pay attention to physical context

Computer-users used to be confined to their desks and television viewers were limited to their couches and beds. With mobile media, location matters more than ever. Your readers could be anywhere and surrounded by infinite distractions.

“I believe the best way marketing professionals and copywriters can prepare for the mobile economy is by being aware of the different contexts in which people will interact with their work,” said Adam Williams, founder at Pangea Learning, a company that specializes in educational apps. “They now can be anywhere at the supermarket, park, bar, restaurant, or on a trip.”

As a writer, you face the challenging task of appealing to many contexts while ensuring a uniform message.

“A consistent message needs to be portrayed but it must be catered to the particularities of the new touch points,” Williams said.

Sharpen up your skills

Mobile marketing is almost like a specialty, suggested Hall.

“More than ever before, writers and storytellers have to be aware of the possibilities and limitations of mobile media,” she said. “They have to learn how to create immediate impact with their words, while having in-depth information for those who want more than a quick fix.”

Visuals are also critical to the equation.

“Since images are more important, they need to learn where to find great pictures and how to use them effectively, and to stay on top of memes and social media trends to make their writing more relevant,” Hall said. “And supporting all those are the key skills of researching, writing and editing.”

Stay ahead of the freelancer curve, and be among the first to this valuable market.

Image courtesy of miniyo73/flickr

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