Your website’s going to sink in Google’s rankings if your content isn’t mobile friendly. That’s a scary thought. Just as terrifying– tackling a mobile content strategy. Venturing into mobile-friendly waters can feel a little like jumping into the deep end when you don’t know how to swim. Intimidating, overwhelming, and at times a bit scary, knowing how to begin, improve upon, or mature your content for mobile is a place you’d rather not dive into head first.

But, as your customers continue to up their daily mobile browsing hours, content that looks sub-par on mobile just won’t cut it. Even as early as 2012, Google surveyed consumers about their mobile browsing experience and found that 50 percent would use a business less often if its website was not mobile friendly. Six years later, and Google’s using mobile-friendliness as one of it’s ranking factors.

Long story short: if you’re not prepared to reach your audience on mobile, you risk a poor user experience and customers jumping ship in favor of more mobile-friendly waters.

But you don’t have to go all in, all at once. According to a Gartner report (available to clients), there are five levels of maturity in mobile marketing, which can serve as a launchpad for creating your mobile content strategy:

Here, I’ll go through Gartner’s five levels of mobile maturity for marketing and apply them to your mobile content strategy so that you can identify which level you’re at, and how you can reach the next level without drowning.

Nascent: Treading water

In this early stage of mobile content strategy development, you’re getting your bearings. You may have dipped your toes into the pool of mobile design, but it’s still at a very basic level. You may be using mobile responsive email templates or allow for users to share your content on social media from their phone, but your content isn’t specifically optimized for mobile devices.

You likely won’t have a mobile content strategy at this point.

Here’s an example of a website with a poor mobile experience, with a website unfit for mobile navigation.

 

Level up: This is a good place to determine whether it makes sense for your strategy to be mobile-extender, or mobile-centric. A mobile-extender strategy simply extends your website’s functionality from desktop to a mobile device, while mobile-centric creates content for mobile first and worries about the rest later.

You don’t necessarily need to be mobile-centric if you don’t think it makes sense for your company, but if you know that people are accessing your content on a mobile device 75 percent of the time, it’s something you should consider.

Developing: Learning the strokes

Once you’ve decided whether you’re going to be mobile-centric or a mobile-extender, you’ll be able to start creating your mobile content strategy. This doesn’t only involve deciding on what type of mobile design you’ll offer (responsive design, mobile-dedicated, or adaptive), but also thinking about the type of content that you publish and how it’s being consumed by your users.

A good place to start is by looking at the numbers: check your analytics tools to see where most of your traffic is coming from. Assess whether there’s a difference between the way that your traffic is converting on different devices, including click throughs, social shares, or comments (or whatever your most important content metrics are).

Level up: At the very least, start implementing responsive design on your website. Depending on your web host, this might be a quick fix, but check to make sure that your website and its content displays nicely across devices. Notably, having a mobile friendly site also gives signals to Google that’ll give you brownie points in its rankings.

Intermediate: Perfecting technique

This is the refinement stage. Now that your entire site is mobile-friendly, the priority here is thinking about how users are interacting with your content and what works best on which device.

At this stage, you’re comfortable enough to start testing out variations of mobile optimized content to see what works best. There should be enough data to compare content performance side by side for the same (and different) types of content that you’ve optimized to find one that gives you the best results.

BBC News has a mobile-friendly site, although some of the click-through links aren’t optimized.

 

Level up: Dig a bit deeper into analytics to get more granular info about audience behavior. See how your newly optimized mobile content is stacking up against desktop, the types of content that are most successful on mobile, and where the majority of your mobile traffic is coming from.

Advanced: Varsity Swim Team

This is when you can start implementing new content formats and processes that are mobile-first (or even mobile-exclusive).

Make sure that your content creators are thinking of mobile as part of the content planning and creation process. Does a certain piece of content make sense for mobile? What structure and format would translate best on a mobile device? Can certain elements be added or eliminated on mobile? It’s these types of questions that your content team will inherently start asking themselves as part of the content creation process.

Level up: Look at analytics again, but this time, go deeper into how your mobile content efforts are driving company goals. Look for parallels in content and business performance and opportunities to optimize mobile content inline with business goals and brand initiatives.

Master: Olympic Trials

In this final level of maturity, your mobile content strategy helps drive business goals. Beyond your content department, teams like sales and customer support will be a part of your mobile content strategy. Optimization will be related not only to content goals and metrics, but also to business goals.

Your content will help inform digital marketing efforts and will become a key element of your company’s decision-making process.

Buzzfeed offers a really good mobile experience, especially for some of its interactive content like quizzes.

Set your own pace for your mobile content strategy

Creating a mobile content strategy isn’t about becoming a master in mobile maturity. You don’t need to reach the highest level of maturity in order to be “successful” at mobile content. It’s about optimizing mobile for your business in the realm of what makes sense for its digital strategies.

What about having a dedicated mobile app?

I haven’t mentioned it here, but having a dedicated mobile app is another mobile content strategy to consider. The problem is that it involves a lot more time and resources to create and maintain than having a mobile-friendly site. Unless it makes sense for your business model, having a mobile app isn’t a “requirement” to enter the mobile game (not to mention that the jury’s still out on the future of mobile apps).

To summarize the levels of mobile marketing maturity:

  • Nascent- You have no mobile content strategy with little mobile site optimization.
  • Developing- You’ve decided on a mobile design that makes sense for your content.
  • Intermediate- Test variations of mobile design to optimize content goals
  • Advanced- Implement content formats and processes that are mobile-first
  • Master- Align mobile content strategy with business goals

Again, you don’t need to become a “master”, but Gartner recommends not skipping any levels as you work your way up to maturity.

 

If you’re ready to start on your mobile content strategy: