Who still reads a newspaper or magazine on a daily basis?
I know I don’t, and you probably don’t either – we get our daily dose of news and entertainment from the blogs, videos, and podcasts on our phones.
The change in behaviour shows no sign of slowing down and has created an ever-growing market for the easy availability of content – your native advertising – on their mobile, anytime and anywhere.
It is vital, then, to ensure your organisation is doing everything it can to tap into this growing audience and effectively generate leads and conversions on mobile.
Businesses that fail to do this will be left behind as their customers and audiences move to more mobile-friendly services and content providers.
Let’s look at the most important practices and tactics every business can benefit from to maximise the impact of native advertising on mobile:
Mobile Marketing Tactics
Focus on Quality Content
It would be lovely to think your visitors are online just to learn all about your products and services, but let’s be honest – that probably isn’t the case.
In reality, most mobile users are looking for content that entertains and educates them. Providing this should be a primary objective of your native advertising strategy.
What do you know about your ideal customer’s interests and problems, and how do they relate to your business?
For example, if your product is a hiking app then you should obviously produce content about hiking, but you could also produce content about nature conservation or healthy living.
Showing you understand the interests and values of your audience is central to effective native ad content that connects with and has a lasting impact on its audience.
Your content should always be based on the answers to these questions, in addition to the latest developments and trending topics in your industry. Over time you will develop a better understanding of what your target audience is interested in and will have a growing list of topics you know perform well.
Great content is only the first step however – you still need to make the conversion from engaged audience to customers. Let’s take a look at some mobile-first tactics for generating conversions.
We have our smartphones on us wherever we are and whoever we are with, so a referral system that offers genuine value can potentially reach customers who have never opted-in to your marketing or even heard of you before.
Use your native advertising to increase awareness of your referral system to encourage existing customers to make recommendations and new customers to seek out friends who are already your customers – that’s free advertising!
Make sure your referral system is easy to use on mobile. Allowing users to easily go through the referral process with the device they carry at all times will result in more conversions than if users must wait until they are back at home or at their desk to take action, where distraction, procrastination or simply forgetfulness can all snatch that conversion away from you.
Taking Advantage of SMS
Providing exclusive or early access to your content in exchange for an SMS marketing opt-in can be another effective way to turn engagement into conversion.
SMS is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for two simple reasons; they can be opened anywhere and are usually opened within minutes of being received. This lets you use highly time-sensitive offers and promotions to incentivise immediate purchasing and leverage FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) for higher conversion.
On top of this, SMS has excellent word-of-mouth marketing potential.
In the UK, one of the first highly successful SMS campaigns was ‘Orange Wednesday,’ a promotion that provided a code for a two-for-one free movie ticket deal to customers on the Orange mobile network every week. Every customer received a code so you were incentivised to take a friend who was not an Orange customer, and if you weren’t going to use your code you could send it someone else.
As a result, just about everyone in the country was aware of the promotion and it was regarded as being a major perk of being an Orange customer, especially among young adults and teenagers with little disposable income.
This is an excellent example of using SMS marketing to both retain and attract customers.
Increase your trust factor
Trust factor is an element of doing business online that cannot be ignored. Demonstrating yourself to be a credible and honest expert in your field is an important target your native advertising needs to achieve.
It is not just you the user needs to trust however – if a potential customer is uncertain about the security of their payment information they will not be doing any business with you.
From first-time users to experienced internet shoppers, everyone worries about payment security online, and that goes double for making payments on mobile.
Use widely recognised payment systems such as Paypal, Escrow and Google Pay, and display the payment amount at all stages of the payment process so that the customer is sure that they did not miss any hidden charges.
Display your payment systems prominently as seeing these gives users confidence in your payment security, and conversely trying to make a payment and encountering an unfamiliar, unknown system can scare off a lot of customers.
Best Practice Principles
Mobile Web Design 101
When it comes to any form of marketing on mobile, simplicity is king. Even the largest smartphones still have only a small amount of screen space, so making the best use of that space should be a priority.
Everyone should already know these rules, but just to make sure we are all on the same page let’s go over the basics:
Make sure all your content fits into a vertical column, and always avoid requiring the user to scroll horizontally. You may need to shorten the titles and subtitles of your content in order to fit neatly across 1-2 lines in a large font.
Sidebars are an incredibly useful tool for displaying ads and links, but on mobile, these will only clutter the screen, so move their contents to the footer of the page.
Most of the commonly used website building platforms such as WordPress or SquareSpace will handle conversion to mobile for you, so all you really need to do is make sure all your plugins play nice with the page formatting.
A native ad campaign that successfully engages consumers on mobile will create user intent to convert by following your call-to-action, creating an account or even making a purchase, but not all of the users with that intent will do so.
This is because there is a barrier between the user and conversion – your lead capture form. The more you can lower that barrier, the higher your conversion rate will be.
You can (and should) make your forms look great and in keeping with the overall style of your site, but the reality is that filling in forms is not fun and you can’t make it fun.
Instead, make it quick and painless.
Auto-fill compatibility is a must, and don’t ask for any information you do not absolutely require. Asking for extra info to know more about your visitors is fine on desktop (within reason) but don’t waste your user’s limited screen space and time on this when it comes to the mobile version. Whenever possible, allow users to create accounts and log in using their social media accounts.
Sticking to simple designs is a great start when creating a visually appealing page and avoids the potential problems of a small screen, but what smartphones lack in size they more than make up for in resolution and colour vibrancy.
While it is not the only way to go, simple, bold images with bright colours are arguably the most versatile approach.
That highly detailed photo or diagram might look great as the featured image across the header of your blog post, for example, but what will it look like as a thumbnail?
The more detail an image has, the more illegible it will become shrunk down.
Avoiding on-screen clutter is key, so even with thumbnail-sized images you don’t really have the space to put more than 1 or 2 images on-screen at once without being very limited in the kinds of images you can use.
Site Optimization and Loading Times
A mobile user is more likely to be connecting under less than ideal network conditions, as they could be relying on free WiFi or a weak 3G or 4G connection, or could simply have their device’s processing power reduced by low battery, so it is important to optimise your site for rapid load times.
Be selective in your use of images, video, and gifs, and avoid auto-play features for video as this can delay the loading of the entire page, not just the video. This is especially important for blogs – one of the reasons a user might be reading your blog instead of just watching a video or listening to a podcast is simply that their connection is too poor to stream. If your blog also fails to load quickly, they will just find a different blog to read.
It is incredibly important to test all of your content pages on as many devices as possible under poor network conditions. If your page still loads in under 3 seconds, great! If not, 53% of your site visitors aren’t waiting around any longer than that.
It’s been a long time since businesses could get away with ignoring mobile, and the rewards of mobile-friendly native advertising are only growing as smartphones continue their journey to becoming the primary online device of the average consumer. Simple and appealing mobile-friendly design, along with lead capture strategies tailored to the strengths of mobile devices, should be at the top of every organisation’s priority list.
Learn from expert practitioners
Hear about this topic and more at this year’s Native Advertising DAYS. This is more than just another industry event. It’s a conference with an ambitious vision to be THE event for thought leaders and creative minds in publishing and brand marketing to join forces.