I’m an unapologetic fan of Matt Drudge’s website.
A couple years ago, he (or someone around him) released an official Drudge Report iPhone app.
“Excellent,” I whispered, deep within the halls of the Bruce Family Compound.
I downloaded the thing the day it hit the App Store and opened it up. I opened it a few more times after that … then deleted it before the week was done.
What happened? This was a mobile content app from a website I used almost daily.
What happened was, there’s no such thing as “Mobile Content Marketing”.
Let me explain …
The great content platform wars of 2012
There’s been a lot talk out there in the last few years about mobile marketing.
And for good reason: the statistics on mobile usage are staggering. It is evident that the world is making more and more room for smaller and smaller devices, with many foregoing desktop computers altogether.
The rise of the 3- and the 9-inch screen has created an entirely new app economy, driven largely by the Apple and Android mobile app stores.
Fortunes are being made, technology is advancing daily, new and amazing apps are being built by the minute — and the web content publisher is left wondering and worrying if she’s missing out on the gold rush.
In the context of what Copyblogger teaches week in and week out, we’d call this Mobile Content Marketing — that is, if we believed it actually existed.
Apps, plugins, and mobile sites, oh my
As a web publisher, your options for delivering your words, videos, images, and audio onto the mobile screen are immense.
You’re told that, at the very least, you need to make your site “mobile friendly.”
One of the most basic ways to do this (if you’re publishing with WordPress) is through the use of a mobile plugin. You upload it, turn it on, and you’re good to go. You’re limited in terms of design and layout (often in a fairly unattractive way), but you’re “mobile.”
The next step in your mobile content evolution might be to spend some money, working with a developer to build a separate mobile version of your website. In this case, you’re essentially re-creating your site on a mobile subdomain in a single attempt to fit multiple screens. Pay the bill, and you’re better off than if you were merely using a plugin.
A third way — the option that much of the tech world is currently evangelizing — is to build an app. In many minds, the mobile app is the holy grail. Paid or not, you’ve poured money, time, and tech into a single portal that (you hope) your audience will download from an app store, and dedicate themselves to opening on their phone or tablet multiple times a week to get at your stuff.
There’s no question, each of these tools and strategies “work.”
But what if there were a simpler, less expensive, and much more effective way to distribute your content into this increasingly mobile world?
One website to rule them all
As I said in my post about our new Prose theme for WordPress on Monday …
The dirty little secret of mobile content distribution is that you only need one website to serve every device.
Where does that leave us concerning the three options above?
A plugin is, well, a plugin. You need to download it, maintain it, make sure it’s compatible with your theme, and with future versions of your theme. You have to remember that it’s there, and you’re stuck with the way it generically presents your content, without the benefit of the branded elements of your web design.
A secondary, dedicated mobile site is better, but it’s another site to maintain. As development on the web advances, you’ll need to advance the “the mobile version” of your site with it. This costs time and money. Worse, it costs your attention.
Similarly, app development is expensive and time-consuming. When it’s done, your content is distributed via platforms that you don’t own or control. And, you’re asking your audience to take steps to download, update, and remember to open your shiny little app. Compare that to RSS or email, where you deliver content to a location that the subscriber “lives in” for messages and content.
Think about it. A content publisher is not building a utility … you are creating and distributing information, ideas, and art. Those are best served on the open web, where they can be indexed by search engines and found by people.
You need to focus on creating and distributing informative content. Plugins, mobile sites, and apps take your focus from that objective.
There’s only one mobile app a content publisher should concern himself with — the mobile browser.
You need a single website that automatically responds to all devices in a mobile browser.
How to build a mobile responsive website with WordPress
Mobile responsive web design is a simple and effective answer to the good, but imperfect, options above.
What is mobile responsive design? Josh Byers writes:
When a website is responsive, the layout and/or content responds or adapts based on the size of screen they are presented on. [Simply put], a responsive website automatically changes to fit the device you’re reading it on.
Through the injection of some, well, code (don’t laugh, developers, I’m a writer after all), your single website becomes automatically and beautifully readable on all the devices your audience is using — desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet.
If you know what you’re doing with the code, you can make this happen fairly easily.
If you’re a writer and publisher online with no hacker credentials, we’ve got a few effortless options you can look at.
In the future all of our StudioPress themes will be mobile responsive, but until then, we’ve got you covered with a handful of ways to easily build a mobile responsive site:
Mobile content marketing is just … content marketing
The world has changed. We’re carrying powerful computers around in our front pockets. We consume the content on our mobile screens while grabbing a coffee, walking the dog, and waiting in line at the DMV.
And yet, I started this post with a somewhat bold declaration: There is no such thing as “Mobile Content Marketing”.
With the introduction of accessible responsive design, mobile content marketing has become simply … content marketing.
To be a player — a publisher — in the mobile space, you now need only one website, distributing your content on the open web, and displayed perfectly on the little computers so many of us carry.
The future of digital content publishing
I am a writer, and a reader. As far as content is concerned, I want to read and be read on the open web.
I don’t want 300 content apps on my phone. Hell, I don’t even want an app for my favorite website on my phone (see above).
I just want to click a link, go to your one website, get what I want, and get out.
How about you?
Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below …
About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter and Resident Recluse.