There’s some sort of information we need, immediately.
We want our news instantly, and our shopping, too.
Once we get the info we’re looking for, we’re motivated to take action. If it’s related to shopping we’ll buy something, right then and there, via our smartphone, or, if it’s a local search, we’re likely go to the place we just found online to make an in-store transaction.
Simple, right? Indeed, however, for companies and organizations there’s more to it.
From a business standpoint, the best way to capitalize on this user behavior is to understand how people search, and buy, while on a smartphone. Don’t assume it’s the same as happens while surfing the web via a desktop computer. Because it’s not.
A new report by Google and Ipsos OTX MediaCT, called the Mobile Movement, Understanding Smartphone Users offers insights into our smartphone habits. The study polled more than 5000 smartphone owners about their smartphone usage in general, and shopping habits, in particular.
The ubiquity of smartphones in our everyday lives
The study looked into general smartphone usage. Here are some of its findings:
Where do you use your smartphone?
87% on-the-go, commuting or walking
77% in a store
73% in a restaurant
66% at a social gathering
54% café or coffee shop
53% doctor’s office
What media related activities do you do while also using your smartphone
44% listen to music
33% watch TV
29% use the internet on a computer
27% play video games
22% read newspaper or magazine
16% read a book
What activities do you do while using a smartphone
59% wait (in line at the market, at a doctor’s office, for a bus, etc.)
39% use the bathroom
27% cook or do household chores
20% drive a vehicle
17% walk my dog
14% pump gas
13% play sports or exercise
8% take a shower or bath
Design your mobile website for multitasking
Basically, the majority of us will use our smartphone just about anywhere we can get a signal. And when we’re goin’ mobile we’re usually multitasking. Our minds are only paying partial attention to our phone activity.
This has serious consequences for a business’ mobile web presence — one of the top ones being, your mobile site should be streamlined to readily enable users to find what they want, and complete tasks, in as few steps as possible. And yes, this is true for any website, but it’s even more critical in the mobile format.
You want a site where after someone clicks through to it from search results, the most important info is viewable at a glance. For one good example see how Burger King does it. And better still, the Burger King web server recognizes when a user is on a smartphone and automatically delivers the mobile site version:
As opposed to this, from Coca Cola, which serves up about a ¾ version of its main website just like you’d get through a desktop computer. Note, some items on the lower right corner don’t even show up if you’re using an iPhone. Seriously Coke, you should know better:
Mobile phone as personal shopping assistant
Of course, it’s no surprise to find out smartphones are used much like a mini netbook computer — after all, that is what they are, albeit one that has a phone attached to it. When in shopping mode a smartphone is our handy-dandy combination phone book, GPS, online catalog and price comparison device. Of the 5000-plus people who participated in the Mobile Movement study:
74% used a smartphone to make a purchase
70% used a smartphone while shopping in a store
27% bought something via a mobile website
22% bought a product or service through an app
After finding that local info via a smartphone users were ready to swing into action:
61% called a business
59% visited a business
58% looked up business on a map or got directions
54% visited the website of a business
36% made a purchase from a business online
22% recommended a business/service to someone
20% read or wrote a review about a business
19% marked or added a business to my favorite list
Mobile search and sharing
These stats are a good indicator of how important it is for a business to optimize for local search. Also, it’s interesting to see how many users are recommending a business or service, writing a review or adding a business as a favorite. This is part of a growing trend where we want our web experience to be more personal and social. That’s why you want to make it easy for people to share and like your site.
For businesses the signal is coming in loud and clear: the time is now for mobile.
- Deni Kasrel
Have you seen good or bad examples of mobile websites? What are they? Your comments welcome.
Seeing as we all seek out information by hitting the web – frequently using a search engine as our guide — you can bet people other than the press are discovering and reading your releases.
Most PR practitioners, however, still write press releases in a rigid format specifically aimed at reporters. It’s a style developed long before the web came into being and best suited to the printed page.
Press releases posted online should be in web style
News flash: Web content should be written for the way we read web content. Or rather, how we glance over web content. Studies show when we first hit a web page we scan it. Our eyes skip around looking for clues to see if the page has information we can use. If it takes too long to figure out we hop off and scan elsewhere.
This applies to all areas of a website. Including the press section.
Press releases as information, plain and simple
OK, this is not groundbreaking news: Jakob Nielson, a pioneer of web usability, has beaten this drum for years. He’s posted numerous articles on the subject, including How Users Read on the Web.
Still, even companies that follow good web style elsewhere on their website often disregard it in the press area.
That’s a mistake. Usability studies by Janice (Ginny) Redish — as noted in her excellent book Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works – show the general web user is confused (and even frustrated) by traditional “wall-to-wall text” press releases that appear online.
And so, with hat tips to Nielson and Redish, here’s a handy list of guidelines for writing press releases for the web.
Best Practices: Writing Press Releases for the Web
1. Write short paragraphs
Keep it concise. Nielson suggests having one idea per paragraph.
2. Increase scanability with subheads in bold type
Subheads give instant clues about the full content of the release. Readers can know right away if the content is of interest, or not. Suggested length for headings is eight words or less.
3. Break up information with bulleted or numbered lists
Bullets act as graphical elements that stand out from blocks of text. Our eyes are naturally and psychologically drawn to lists with brief chunks of information.
4. Display data in tables and graphs
It’s difficult to digest lots of data rendered in paragraph format. You’re better off putting this information into tables and graphs that are more readily understood.
5. Use the same template as other informational pages
As noted, the general public does not make a distinction between press releases and other useful web content. A press release should have the same look and feel as other informational pages on your website.
6. Include hyperlinks and external documents for additional information
Provide more value to a release by linking to other areas of your site with related information.
If you need to go into more depth with statistics or research findings, create and post documents with these details. Write the press release as a summary fact sheet and put links to these documents in the release.
7. Include keywords
Use language that appeals to your customer base. Put special emphasis on terms and phrases someone might use to find your product or service through a search engine, a.k.a. keywords.
8. Be mindful of who’s listed as the company contact
Typical press releases list the person in your public relations/communications department who wrote the release as the contact for additional information. But is this the right person to respond to queries from the general public? And what happens when this PR flack leaves your company? Do you go back and changes all the releases?
Once a release is posted on the web you may want to list your main PR office number, and identify it as such, to better field calls that come in response to the release.
- Deni Kasrel
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