The State of the Mobile Web, the Rise of the Tablet and Current PR Tactics

Because my career began pre-internet, I can vividly recall Fortune 500 companies telling me they would never have a website and CEOs who said they would never have an e-mail. There might still be a few CEOs who don’t use e-mail, but EVERYONE has a website now. But not everyone has a website optimized for mobile and Tablet PCs, which is the next disruption.

Since I got a Kindle for my birthday a couple of years ago, I have cancelled all my print subscriptions. It was a slow process, but it happened at the same time my community was more and more focused on recycling. Could I get everything I needed on my Kindle? It turns out I could. I’m still not crazy about watching videos on the device, and I still prefer to buy hardback and paperback books (they don’t need batteries and I don’t have to turn them off for take-offs and landings). However, I’ve learned many publications update their online versions in real time—plus it’s much easier to search and even e-mail online articles, versus clipping them out and scanning them.

And when people aren’t using their tablet devices to browse the web and consume media, they are using their smartphones. It’s not hard to visualize everyone having a smartphone eventually. In fact, right now there are more mobile phones in the USA than there are people.

Here are some relevant stats about US smartphone users:

  • 75% use them to get real-time, location-based information
    > 90% of those searches lead to an action
    > 70% acted within an hour
  • 42% of email is opened on a mobile device
  • Only 3% of users view their email on more than one platform (for example desktop and mobile)
  • 80% of users delete mobile email that doesn’t look good on their device

Fortunately, adapting to mobile and Tablet PC’s is not difficult. One of my medical clients approached me about developing some training and sales videos for their website, which wasn’t really set up to host video. As I took a closer look at the site, it didn’t work well in Safari or Chrome or for any mobile device, either. Fortunately, there are web-based platforms like WordPress, that can be customized to be responsive—detecting what kind of device and/or browser a consumer is using and making the right adjustments so their online experience is optimized. In about two weeks, and at a cost of about $5,000, we were able to rebuild the entire site and make it fully functional and easily adaptable for the future.

And video is increasingly being consumed by mobile devices—so you’re losing views if your site links to videos that aren’t optimized for mobile as well. (YouTube works very well on most devices—and it’s free).

SMS/texting is another mobile tactic that is very compelling means to reach and influence consumers—for some segments it’s actually the most effective means. This video blog highlights an innovative text messaging program to prevent concussion injuries for high school football players in Chicago:

Finally, here are some basic tips to keep your PR counsel mobile ready when using e-mail to communicate with your audience:

  • Avoid using too much text/ break it apart (“click to read more”)
  • Avoid multiple columns (content gets squished)
  • Clear and easy calls to action (one single button above the scroll)
  • Avoid tiny fonts; Minimum: 22-point headlines, 16-point body text, offer improved contrast
  • Verdana is the most widely legible font.
  • Use images carefully; images won’t always display based on individual email settings
  • 80/20 rule for email marketing; 80% text 20% images
  • Include your logo, but underneath also include your company name and website in small text in case your logo (image) doesn’t show

Remember your clients will get better local search results, if they claim their pages on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Tripadvisor, Foursquare, YP, etc. Except perhaps in movie theatres, it’s bad form to ask customers or supporters to turn their phones off. Turning off their phones takes away their opportunity to instantly spread the word about your client’s business or service. The future is mobile and it’s already here.