By: Steph Konatar on 18-01-2016 in Inbound Marketing, Internet Trends, Marketing, Mobile, Online Marketing, Search, SEO, Technology

The popularity of mobile devices is at an all-time high and the desktop is arguably playing second fiddle to the likes of the smartphone and tablet. But has this obsession changed the way we consume information?

Person morphing into mobile device

Photo credit: Antoine Geiger

Thanks to those portable time wasters the average attention span has fallen by four seconds in the past 13 years, which makes for impatient site visitors who flick between sites until something tickles their fancy.

The smartphone and lightning fast internet speeds at the touch of a button has skyrocketed video consumption statistics to an all-time high. And our equally great obsession, social media, means there are a magnitude of ways to place your brand within arm’s reach of the entire online world.

How Far Has the Addiction Reached?

Not surprisingly, 96% of Americans own a mobile device. They spend an incredible three hours a day on them, almost twice as much time as they did in 2008.

That may not be breaking news to anyone, but mobile digital media time in the US is now significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop (42%). Earlier this year, ComScore reported, for the first time ever, mobile-only internet users outnumbered desktop-only internet users in the US.

Number of global mobile users

Not only are people ditching the traditional desktop for mobile devices, but the volume increases dramatically year after year. The volume of data downloaded via mobile devices had increased by 36% from 38,734 to 71,572 TB in the space of 12 months between 2014 and 2015.

Mobile users with no fixed telephone line

How you can make this epidemic benefit you?

Now before we go panicking that we’ll have mobile devices implanted into our brain soon enough, think about how you can make this obsession beneficial to you:

1. Immerse Your Business in Mobile-friendly Features

According to a mobile behaviour report from ExactTarget, 27% of people will leave a site if it is not mobile-optimised, and a mobile marketing survey conducted by Chief Marketer in 2012 found 61% of companies have created a mobile site or optimised their existing site for mobile.

“Research reveals that by 2015, over half of people browsing the web will be on a mobile device. And roughly 80% of mobile searchers say if they don’t like what they find on one website, they’ll leave that website and look for another, more mobile-friendly solution.”

A recent survey by Qlik’s found 85% of American respondents and 77% from the rest of the world said they used multiple devices simultaneously. Whittington suggests using a using a responsive website design to ensure all of the consumer’s needs are met, regardless of what device they’re using.

Person using multiple devices simultaneously

A responsive website design only involves the creation of one website. It detects different device screen sizes and automatically reformats the content and design to best suit the screen size it is being viewed on.

2. But Don’t Ignore Desktops… They’re Not Dead Yet

Some have mentioned the spike in mobile usage may in fact lead to the fall of where our internet addictions began: the desktop. But do not fret- statistics show desktop numbers are constant. Moz founder, Rand Fishkin believes mobile usage will barely “cut into desktop’s usage”. He instead believes we will continue to use both almost equally.

“I think we may have reached  the peak of desktop/laptop decline, and I expect that in 2016, desktop usage rates will stay largely unchanged. Most everything that mobile was going to replace or take away from desktop use has been taken, and I’m skeptical that things like creative work, programming, long-form writing, computer gaming, and other tasks that big monitors and full keyboard+mouse inputs were made for can be successfully cannibalized by the screen that fits in our pockets.” – Rand Fishkin, Moz.

Mobile devices are taking up our spare time

So we’re basically going to spend all of our spare time in front of a screen and be reduced to square-eyed zombies. I can live with that.

3. Get to the Point! And Make It Snappy

The increase in technology as a whole and human’s ability to multi-task has decreased the average American’s attention span from 12 seconds in 2000 to just eight seconds in 2013 according to Bloomberg Business – that’s a second less than that of a goldfish.

A recent Microsoft study found a positive spin to this laughable, and slightly embarrassing, discovery though. It explained we have developed better multitasking skills and our attention spans had suffered as a result.

“While digital lifestyles decrease sustained attention overall, it’s only true in the long-term. Early adopters and heavy social media users front load their attention and have more intermittent bursts of high attention,”

the study read.

“They’re better at identifying what they want/don’t want to engage with and need less to process and commit things to memory.”

Perhaps this kid was just in a rush to multi-task somewhere else…

With a lower attention span also comes higher expectations of user experience. The less interested or entertained a consumer is, the less likely they will be to stick around. This means simple and clear websites and sites that directly identify the consumer’s needs will trump complicated and confusing designs.

Founder and principal of Whittington Consulting, Rick Whittington said regardless of how well presented and targeted the website is “if it takes longer than 10 seconds to load it won’t achieve your marketing goals”.

4. Know Your Consumers & Rethink the Inbound Marketing Funnel

Closely related to our ever decreasing attention spans coupled with the increased availability of the smartphone and its features has increased our impulsiveness and ‘quests for information’. Interim checking, glimpsing (with the help of the new smaller devices like watches), ‘snacking’ on content or constantly exploring the online realm has a direct effect on how we search.

As Ogilvy Group UK Vice-Chairman, Rory Sutherland tells us, users search for content that they want at that particular moment. It greatly evolves marketing strategies and downplays the importance of the target market, and highlighting the importance of market research.

“For the most part, the way to use the mobile is just the opposite of what we think of as advertising – it’s “asked-for” content, timely, relevant to context, possibly location-specific, and possibly personalised. This means the target audience, instead of being a “how many”, should be a “who”, a “when”, and a “where”.”

It almost questions the importance of the current inbound marketing funnel doesn’t it?

5. Tap into Social Media… Another Precious Resource

If there’s one thing that can be predicted it’s our love of social media. If our love for mobile devices was like going to the cinema our love for social media would be the popcorn. It may only one be one of its many features, but it’s definitely one of the best parts.

As of January this year there were just over two billion active social media accounts. That’s a whopping 29% of the world’s population checking that photo of your lunch you posted on Instagram.

I don’t have to state the obvious and tell you how much free exposure that can lead to for your brand. When a piece of your content is shared it further improves its reach, which gets back to Google HQ. As Seer Interactive CEO, Wil Reynolds explains the more the shares, the more Google likey your page.

“Today, I need to worry about people on social, that, if they like [content], they share it. Because if they share it, it sends signals to Google. But more importantly, the people who didn’t originally see [that content], will look at it and say, ‘This was good.”

We don’t like to be referred to as sheep, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The loyalty from one customer (sharing something on social media) can lead others straight to awareness and consideration (see the funnel isn’t dead just yet!). But you will definitely have to alter the way you map out your content strategy and steer clear of the rigid, set-in-stone funnel.

6. Deliver Your Content by Video & Watch the “shares” Roll In

Right, now that we’re actually discussing how the progressive change in human behaviour can be of benefit to you and your business, we can’t go past video consumption. The average consumer with an internet connection watches roughly 206 videos per month and Nielsen claims 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future.

Pictures are said to paint a thousand words, as the old saying goes, so in this inquisitive-natured, yet inattentive culture we live in videos are the perfect medium.

The upsurge of video consumption can also be taken advantage of in more ways than one. According to a recent study by Usurv, delivery by video is the best way to get site consumers to share and interact with your content on social media. Consumers are 39% more likely to share content if it’s delivered via video, 36% more likely to comment and 56% more likely to “like” the video.

Baby watching a video

In the old methods of marketing television advertising was a strong focus, but according to Nielsen traditional television viewer numbers are slowly declining. So where does that leave video marketing? Think with Google recently revealed 46% of 3,000 US campaigns would have increased their reach using combining TV and YouTube combination.

The rise in popularity of digital television platforms, such as Netflix show utilising the online realm could become paramount in years to come. Unlike traditional TV advertising digital marketers are presented with a range of targeted data about their users. Ah the possibilities!

7. Prepare for “Advertising bombardment” in the Future

MOZ’s Rand also noted 2016 may see the wearables, virtual reality, “Internet of Things” and smart home products at the top of everyone’s Christmas list.  But he believes we may have a bit more time to prepare ourselves for ads yelling at us from our fridges.

“There may be a few niche opportunities, but my prediction is that none of these new trends will create marketing/advertising platforms or potential in the $50mm+ range. – Rand Fishkin, Moz.

But this could be a day-to-day lives soon enough if Google gets its way:

Ensure your content and marketing strategies are up to scratch and make a name for yourself before advertising literally bombards your consumers in every aspect of their lives.

Summing Up… What You Need to Know

We know the age of mobile devices is now. Consumers are at an all-time high, rapidly increasing year by year, but still light-years away from their peak. They have changed the way we think, concentrate and receive information and marketers are forced to keep up or be left by the wayside.

A shorter attention span is the result of increased and improved multi-tasking. Responsive website designs are recommended to ensure sites are mobile friendly, and make the information presented quick and easy to digest. The importance of target research is more important than ever as consumers become more random in their searches.

Almost a third of the world has a social media account and thanks to the limitless opportunities it provides for a brand it has become one of the biggest pieces of inbound marketing arsenal and video-based content is the easiest way to attract a magnitude of “shares”.

Could you live without your phone? Leave your response below!