Nearly 4 billion people are online at any given moment. That means internet penetration has reached 52 percent of all humans alive today.
Only a small sliver of these users represents your audience, of course, but understanding them – their search behaviors, online habits, platform preferences, etc. – is nonetheless the same.
Think you can analyze your customers – ALL of them – on scattered or fragmented web analytics data?
We think not.
After compiling a year’s worth of site metrics across 181 B2B and B2C websites, we uncovered a number of profoundly insightful benchmarks that serve as a strong foundation upon which marketers can better identify and target their audience as productively as possible.
With this information, you can build a stronger content and distribution strategy that drives results.
What the data tells us
In a perfect world, every website a user lands on would be fully optimized for both mobile and desktop experiences. What’s interesting, however, is that in some cases, it actually pays to prioritize responsiveness on one device more so than another.
For instance, based on our 2017 Content Marketing Benchmark Report, 70 percent of all traffic comes from desktop devices, which leaves 30 percent arriving via mobile (phone/tablet). These numbers will no doubt shift more toward mobile with each passing day, so taking these figures at face value could be slightly misleading.
It’s important to know how your specific audience fits into these data points. Consider:
B2B: 78 percent of traffic derives from desktops
For marketers in the B2B space, it’s clear that users are still using desktop devices at higher rates relative to searchers in the B2C sphere. What this could mean is that B2B audiences are likely to be searching for information while on the clock (naturally) and under the directive of a superior (a marketer tasked with finding a new ERP software, for example).
Additionally, it’s equally likely that B2B marketers have not felt the same pressure, or seen enough value, to focus their efforts on mobile users just yet. And it makes sense – for the time being – if 78 percent of their core audience are avid desktop users. On the other hand, believing that mobile-responsiveness, or better UX across all devices in general, is not a necessary investment at the moment, is a false premise.
Google has already prioritized mobile-first indexing in the past year, meaning B2B companies could take a hit in organic rankings if they aren’t tapping into the larger arc of search behaviors.
B2C: 55 percent of traffic derives from desktops
A stat that is a bit more in line with what you would expect but still somewhat high, all things considered: More than half of B2C traffic arrives via desktop. Or, more importantly, 45 percent of B2C site traffic comes from mobile – a promising sign that companies that directly interface with average consumers, which Google’s algorithms aim to mimic, are being primed to cater more so toward mobile users.
B2C customers are of course still using laptops/desktops as search vehicles, but the rise of smartphone technology has clearly been more impactful in shifting search behavior.
As discussed in the report, the key lesson here is that all sites, irrespective of industry, should be mobile-responsive and serve the intent of mobile-centric users, but B2C businesses more specifically must do so immediately or risk negating nearly half of their prospective audience.
Creating content that serves a user purpose
What these metrics teach us is that content cannot be mass produced or mass distributed; it needs to be personalized, optimized by device and reflective of the evolving nature of search behavior. In short, the goalposts have moved, and they will constantly move in the future, forcing marketers to construct agile workflows and content production strategies.
Are you up to the task? We sure hope so.
Given that B2B traffic primarily comes from desktop devices, marketers may not need to completely overhaul their content production if they already have strong processes in place and follow traditional best practices. But, don’t for a second think that you can simply toss mobile traffic (22 percent) by the wayside in favor of sticking to the tried and true. That’s a no-go in the current digital landscape, no matter how fractional a certain audience metric is.
That 22 percent today could be 32 percent by the end of the year, and upward of 50 percent this time 2018. This level of transformation requires marketers to continuously put future customers first (aka mobile customers) simply to keep pace with search engine updates.
B2C marketers may be one step ahead of their B2B counterparts in terms of transitioning to an all-mobile world, but, if anything, their content strategies must be even more unique and fully optimized. If not, the fallout could be much more damaging, as their audience is more heavily dependent upon mobile.
Let’s look at some key content types and what their new 2017-and-beyond iterations should like:
As some of the most crawlable and consumable content on the web, blogs are many times a company’s first foray into being an active participant in the marketing world around them – and for good reason. B2B companies that blog regularly generate more leads than those that don’t.
But long-form copy that isn’t broken out into clear subsections or that doesn’t contain rich visual media isn’t going to transfer well to a 5-inch phone screen. Blogs of today (and tomorrow) need to be digestible and formatted into 100-150-word chunks – mobile readers don’t necessarily “read” in the traditional sense; they scan and move on.
Posts on social media platforms should also be geared toward a more visual audience. The great thing about social media is that everything is typically pre-optimized, meaning app or mobile users won’t run into clunky formatting or scaling issues.
Look into how you can cut back on pure text and utilize videos, user-generated content, product giveaways and other collaborative contests that followers can consume while on the go.
Calls to action are more than just catchy straplines or colorful, clickable buttons; they’re the workhorse of your organic lead generation strategy. Ensure CTAs are placed naturally throughout copy, not just tacked on to an end of an article or stuck in the corner of a browser window at all times. (More expert CTA ideas here.)
On mobile, collecting information from those who click on CTAs can be more difficult (which we’ll discuss below) than data-gathering on desktop, as laborious or buggy form fills are a big turnoff for mobile searchers.
The numbers are pretty definitive: 79 percent of B2B and 82 percent of B2C marketers are using video. And with Wi-Fi ubiquity rising every day, videos are more commonly consumed on smartphones and tablets (check your Facebook feed and tell me it’s not drowning in videos).
Mobile video configurability is crucial, so including subtitles, defaulting to no sound and applying a compelling splash screen can enhance the viewability and shareability of every video produced.
Graphics are more important than ever: CTAs, infographics, banner ads, site design, UX optimization, branding and everything in between. Pages with embedded images or video obtain 94 percent more views than those with text alone. Further, humans are visual creatures; 90 percent of information that is sent to the brain is visual.
On the other hand, your bounce rate will soar if your custom graphics aren’t optimized for mobile, regardless of how awesome they are. Using scalable images and file formats that are intuitive across all devices is the way to go.
Content that’s strategically hidden behind form fills can be a bit tricky in 2017. The traditional marketing model held that white papers, eBooks and other longer-form assets should be gated, thus allowing you to capture reader information and hopefully push qualified leads through the sales funnel.
But you’ll run into hurdles when gating assets on mobile devices. Contact information is hard to input on small screens, and pop-up fields are nearly impossible to navigate without incurring typos – in total, it’s just a poor user experience.
Today’s more savvy content marketers are adopting a hybrid gating strategy whereby precious, time-intensive assets are still gated for use on desktops (aka you still capture leads), but the same material is repurposed in different formats for easier digestion on mobile (aka you capture a wider audience).
That eBook you created can be quickly turned into a blog post with graphical embeds; your white paper concept can be scaled into a video that still hits on the important themes – except now, more people are able to access these assets, and they’re also able to link back to them, share them on social and present them to their own stakeholders much more efficiently.
If readers still want a full gated report, that option is still open – it’s the best of both worlds.
Distribute content that connects
Content is only as good as the number of people who see it, and more and more of those people are viewing information only on mobile. It seems safe to posit, then, that mobile versus desktop internet usage statistics need to be factored into content distribution to ensure your investments have reach.
Distribution techniques typically center on email and social media marketing, both of which are growing in use and ROI potential.
Luckily, these channels are already heavily automated and contain proper display functionality (so you don’t have to zoom), to the point where most of the effort that goes into distributing content is on the initial strategic side. Analytics like open rates, impressions and social shares can be automatically tracked and visualized, meaning the real onus rests upon sending out the right content at the right moment.
For both B2B and B2C companies, “the right content” means responsive, UX-friendly, media-rich assets that are targeted to dedicated personas.
While there still remains a gap in mobile traffic coming to B2B (22 percent) and B2C (45 percent) sites, this line is sure to fade in the coming years. In the eyes of future end users (and Google for that matter), ALL companies and ALL content will have to be mobile friendly, as small touchscreens will be the only search vehicle in use.
Oh, don’t look surprised.