Voices of CRM

Dec 2 2011   3:03PM GMT

How much Web content should be delivered to mobile devices? Experts can’t agree

Rosemary Cafasso Profile: Rosecafasso

If content marketing experts at the Gilbane Conference in Boston this week couldn’t agree on the best approach to delivering web content to mobile devices, what’s a company still feeling its way through the mobile revolution to do?

It seems there is no simple answer.

At a conference panel session, content management experts debated how to incorporate mobile devices into content marketing strategies. At issue is just how much content a company should deliver to handheld devices – should marketers try to mimic the Web content experience or design an application that delivers something unique to mobile devices?

Tom Wentworth, chief marketing officer at Ektron, a maker of web content management and social software, said companies should adopt a “mobile first” strategy  where mobile applications are focused on tasks customers want to perform on a mobile platform, such as checking statuses or performing quick transactions.

“It’s a whole new way of thinking,” Wentworth said. “You are flicking and swiping. It should be tasks first, then content.”

“I totally disagree,” said Arje Cahn, chief technology officer of Hippo, a Netherlands-based maker of content management software.

A task-based application works well for “the customer out on the street, on the move,” but many customers will want to sit and use their mobile device for more thoughtful experiences, Cahn said.

“Mobile first is a crock,” said Scott Liewehr, a senior analyst of web content management at the Gilbane Group, a division of Outsell Inc. The real value a company can deliver is in the content, not in the mechanics of the mobile device, Liewehr suggested.

Wentworth held his ground, however. If a company wants to truly educate a buyer with their content then they should “make it as easy as possible to consume it,” he countered.

Many companies have not even mobile-enabled their websites. When customers try to access sites from mobile devices they get large pages that don’t render well.

“They are big users of Flash, you can’t pinch and expand things,” and the pages just don’t work for hand-held devices, Wentworth said.

The real estate on mobile devices is smaller, forcing companies to streamline content and display only their most critical information, Wentworth added He predicted “responsive web design,” a technique of designing web pages to dynamically change as a user navigates through them, will become more pervasive as companies design more mobile applications.

Michael Assad, chief executive officer of Agility, a Toronto-based web and mobile content management company, may have offered the most reasonable solution of all. He suggested that companies need to figure out who their customers are and then tailor the mobile content to that population. For example, one of his clients operates movie theaters and their customers want quick interactions, such as looking up a movie time or buying tickets. They aren’t interested in reading lengthy content. The company developed mobile applications that provide easy navigation to searches and simple-steps for purchases. Other companies may have customers that want to invest time reading complex information and that may be best provided on a laptop.

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