Recently we crossed a pretty amazing milestone at Walmart: Roughly seven in 10 of our employees connect to our site on a mobile device.
Surprising? Given the proliferation of smartphones, not so much. But also challenging. Our site is a one-stop-shop for many things our employees need: benefits, news, communities, services, pay and schedule information, and it’s not easy to serve up information on a screen a few inches across.
It’s a conundrum for communication pros everywhere. How do we make content compelling, yet short? Pithy, yet substantive? Interesting, even when it’s boring? (And we know corporate stuff can be boring.) How do we tailor information to be delivered to people on the go, who may only see our communications on a mobile device?
There is no simple answer. But there are approaches you can take that will help drive better engagement from your audience: six maxims for mobile employee communication.
1. Keep it short and sweet
Brevity is not just the soul of wit, as Shakespeare wrote-it’s the secret to success. On a desktop web experience, you have 7 to 9 seconds to grab someone’s attention with a headline. On a mobile device, it’s only 3 to 5.
Ambiguity does not fly. Get to the bone of your idea. Use action verbs.
Strike an emotional chord. Provoke with a question.
“Check out our discount center” will get fewer clicks than “Save money NOW.”
“Training opportunities available” will get fewer clicks than “Want to get to the next level?”
2. Make your copy “picture-perfect”
A good, compelling photo is literally worth a thousand clicks. A 2012 study from Skyword found that on average, total views of an article increased by 94 percent if it included a relevant photo or infographic, compared to articles without an image. But when you’re limited to a few dozen pixels in size, you have to be creative.
Use a closeup shot of a smiling face for the new sales incentive program. Use a common image that immediately connects to your topic: a stack of books for an education initiative, a company logo for a cultural piece.
A subscription to Shutterstock or Getty images can be a great resource. Even boring topics like “insurance” or “401K” have a deep selection of clever and creative images.
3. Stay simple and streamlined
Have you thought about the “experience” of your mobile content? Even more important, is your content optimized for mobile?
Typically, a few scannable segments on a mobile device help drive interest and engagement: three to five photo “blocks” accompanied with 50-75 characters of a tagline.
People have shorter attention spans on mobile devices, so the more you can make it about them, the more luck you will have. Think services, discounts, learning initiatives and conversation-starters that are relevant to your audience.
Got broader topics relating to your company? Save them for the content running on your desktop Web experience. When audiences are looking at your content on larger computer monitors, they are more likely to read more, and you can share more detail.
4. Know your audience
We are creatures of habit. We get up at the same time every day, grab our javas and kiss our loved ones as we head off to work.
This predictability extends to our technology habits. We check our bank accounts on payday. We shop online during the holidays.
Think about lining up your content with the habits of your audience. That post about personal finance goes nicely with payday. Travel resources are even more appreciated during peak vacation times. A simple look at the calendar and the needs of your audience will better shape your editorial strategy.
5. Have a personal conversation-and apply feedback
What is more appealing to you: a memo about some training program, or a thoughtful post from someone who is passionate about helping people grow in their careers?
Exactly. The world we live in has blurred the lines between “company” and “personal.” The reality is, parking memos on your site-even short ones you can read on a phone-is not going to interest your audience.
The more you can personalize your content from the subject matter experts who are driving it, the more engagement and awareness you will enjoy.
The real benefits are realized in the discussion areas. When the authors actually weigh in with a thought or answer to a posted comment, it reminds the audience that they are shaping the message.
Let your audience know they are heard, encourage thoughtful conversation, and report back to them when you have implemented their ideas. (And explain to them when you haven’t.)
6. Mobilize your audience
The last “rule” is really the simplest. Even though communicating in mobile requires thinking in small screens and short bursts, don’t be afraid to ask for thoughtful feedback.
Bring your audience along with you as you explore what works and what doesn’t for your mobile content strategy. You may be surprised at what you learn. And you may mobilize a whole new audience that you didn’t know was there.
Credit: Shane McLaughlin, Senior manager of content & digital strategy, Walmart