The mobile phone is now the most dominant mass media channel in South Africa, having overtaken
desktop PCs. Reports show that over 37.2 million in the adult population (15+ years) in the country
own a mobile phone, and according to the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), "mobile is… as close
as you can get to your consumers in South Africa". Another interesting statistic is that 84% of internet
users in SA access online content via mobile technologies.
The online desktop environment is fast representing a ghost town as users continue to flock to mobile
platforms in large numbers. Brands should take note of this fact as their continued tenure on PCs will
make their messaging sound like grandstanding in a cemetery.
So overwhelming has been the proliferation of mobile devices and our dependence on them that a
strange condition called nomophobia has induced in mobile users.
Nomophobia is an irrational fear of not having one's phone within sneezing distance. Sounds trivial
but survey results published by SecurEnvoy, a mobile phone security company, show that 66% of
participants in a poll of 1,000 suffered from this condition.
It is quite ironic then that, given such stupendous and glaring ownership statistics, the majority of
South African brands are still light years behind in terms of creating mobile-friendly content, let alone
mobile-compliant digital properties.
Those that have responded to mobile's reign have opted for an ineffective bolt-on strategy that is
tantamount to applying lipstick to a frog. Creating content for the desktop environment and then
shrinking it to fit the smaller screen resolutions of mobile phones and tablets is flawed at the core. The
reason for the failure is simple: The desktop and mobile environments are worlds apart.
What brands should rather do is to re-create their content strategies in line with the nuances of the
mobile universe and become mobile-first in their strategy and operations. According to Jayson
Demers, Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, "If you're not delivering your marketing messages in a
way that's tailored specifically to the experience of a smartphone or tablet user, chances are you're
turning customers away."
So what constitutes the secret sauce of a successful mobile content strategy?
How the target audience uses mobile
Brands should glean insights into the manner in which their customers and prospects actually use
their mobile devices, the type of devices they are on and the extent to which the mobile phones have
become an extension of their lives.
Audience profiling should include an analysis of the customers' expectations in relation to the brands'
The mobile mindset
Mobile is more than a channel as it also represents context and the behaviour of the customers when
they are on their smarthones and tablets. Feature phones are also included in the mix as the bottom
of pyramid (BoP) statistics show heavy usage of mobile data as well.
Do customers use their mobile phones heavily when commuting or when lounging at home, and
whether they use them to search for products or for social networking purposes, are important
considerations that inform a cutting-edge content marketing strategy.
A match between content and context is a priority for any brand that expects to unlock value from the
market-place. "To not leverage the contextual power of mobile would be a miss. But, get the content
wrong and that contextual power is nullified. So more than ever, mobile demands the best of both,"
said Warren Zenna, managing director of digital and mobile at Woods Witt Dealy & Sons, New York.
Long-form content is falling on deaf ears and blind eyes. One of the drawbacks of the digital economy
is the fact that attention spans have dwindled and this is truer for mobile users. Customers expect to
find engaging content that is easy to access, understand and digest when they use their mobile
The winning formula for brands is to create content that grabs attention, is visual and triggers powerful
emotional responses or risk being ignored. It is simply that stringent.
On the other hand, brands can also curate snackable user-generated content from their customers.
This can include videos and photos about or related to their products posted on social media
Geo-location technologies enable brands to connect and engage exclusively with customers that are
in close proximity to their businesses. Promotional messages, surveys and even offer discount codes
can be transmitted to these customers.
What makes location-based mobile content marketing key is that it provides information that
prospective customers need to enable them make purchasing decisions.
Mobile content marketing offers exciting opportunities that were not hitherto available in the desktop
environment. However, brands have to accommodate the peculiarities of the mobile universe by being
mobile-first. Content strategies that are not in tandem with the demands of a mobile environment
represent the folly of looking for cheese at the same place when in actual fact it was moved