Smartphones, huh? Feels like they’re taking over our lives, whether it’s checking Twitter, texting, documenting everything with photos, or reading the latest news. So it’s unsurprising that FutureBook would dedicate a session to one of the most important areas for publishing to consider: mobile. Chaired by Anna Rafferty, it’s one that shines a light on how to adapt to something so fundamental in our day-to-day lives.
“Mobile is the new scale.”
Maureen Scott begins by noting that Ether Books are a mobile-first company. It was created to reach consumers in the digital area of smartphones and social media, a passion for mobile multiplied a love of reading.
“I would argue that people have been reading on their mobile phones,” she explains. Apple disrupted the mobile industry, and when Ether launched, Facebook and Apple were driving the adoption of the smartphone. “Phones have scale that never existed before – mobile is the new scale.”
Microsoft once ruled the world and people couldn’t imagine them going anywhere – they had 98% marketshare, but in the post-PC era they’re barely keeping up. So what are consumers doing? They’re spending 90% on apps, and only 10% on mobile web, an average of 1 hour 54 minutes on a smartphone per day versus 1 hour and 9 minutes on a laptop.
The world in 2020 will have 80% of adults will have smartphones – it’s a once in a tech generation change. “The point of Ether Books is to reach consumers where they spend their time.”
“Create content, don’t convert.”
Gojimo‘s George Burgess gives tips for launching a successful mobile app, as someone whose education one has reached over 300,000 users in its peak month during exam season. First, he says, “Create content, don’t convert.” They have multiple choice quizzes, images that are clickable and zoom in as they will not fit the mobile screen – design for mobile first as that has the most limitations.
Next, iterate. Think of them as subscribers – they expect updates. Often people don’t budget for updates, but it should be a continual work in progress. Updates are integral to success. Then, find a mobile marketing expert – it is a far more niche market than people expect and worth investigating in.
Experiment with pricing. Avoid building premium apps, but go for freemium or ad-supported. People can still be loyal brand advocates without paying for the original content, or further content, but you can also offer in-app purchases to bolster income.
Finally, make data-driven decisions. Test where people are most likely to drop off and adapt it; use multiple similar images on Facebook adverts to track which one works best. These will make a big difference.
“Try not to think like you – these readers are not you.”
The Pigeonhole‘s Anna Jean Hughes offers insight into their online book club. They’ve tested many ways to get their content out there settling on bitesize snippets. Apps are the perfect home for connecting to an audience and clearly this is where some of your books should be, given that we can consume more content in one day than forefathers had in a lifetime.
“Reading makes you a happier, nicer person,” she continues. Mobile is a completely different format and people will need help to scroll through classics – millennials are discerning and we need to keep up. Authors and readers have the chance to discuss the books real time, and can’t emphasise the importance enough of big data analytics.
“What [consumers] want is akin to gamifying books,” she continues. You can harvest huge amounts of data, and they will put the time and effort into why people stop reading at P84, for example. “Think of us as a fitbit for your book.”
They’ll send encouragement to readers, a friendly, “Don’t stop now!” and hint at something coming soon that’s worth staying around for.
“Try not to think like you – these readers are not you,” says Anna. “They want structure, a world to fall inside while waiting for a bus.”
“Mobile first, desktop last.”
Pan Macmillan‘s James Luscombe says it’s key to optimise every channel, and focuses on this throughout (Warning: contains a lot of variations of the word ‘optimise’!).
If your product is mobile-optimised, it’ll be optimised for the entire consumer journey. “It’s mobile first, desktop last,” he says. “Optimise for the worst condition and ensure the experience is optimised for touchscreen.”
It’s about micro-moments – in app-messages, creating searchable content, locations. Getting a mobile friendly flag on Google is key, as Google has been known to down-rank sites that are not set up for that. There’s many ways to improve your Google rank. “SEO is the result of being excellent at everything else.”
It seems a matter of common sense; most of us are guilty of being attached our our smartphones, so why wouldn’t we at least attempt to curate digital content for them as they’ll only become more prominent in the future?