When writing copy for any medium, it’s easy to drown in a sea of lead-ins, clever anecdotes and introductory sentences. There’s hardly time for that on the web. Marketers don’t have the luxury of leading up to anything. The only option is to be direct.
Website visitors typically won’t read big blocks of copy — they want to get in and out and move on to the next site. Think of copywriting for mobile as distilling down web copy even further. If web copy is skimming the cream off the top of the milk, mobile copy is skimming cream off of the cream.
Users on the web are notoriously distracted and hop around from page to page. Mobile users are distracted even further. Their devices are buzzing with push notifications from their apps, text messages and emails are constantly popping up on the screen. They might be standing in line at a grocery store, waiting for a movie to start, in a taxi, in an elevator or walking down the street. These scenarios — and mobile use in general — are defined by three key factors:
1. Pockets of Use. Picking up their mobile device is a secondary task. They’re just trying to fill up a pocket of time while doing something else. Users have just a few moments to check their phone or look up a piece of information while they’re completing a primary task (waiting in line, elevator, etc.).
2. Perpetual and Inherent Distraction. Traditional web users may face distraction from email, chat and the infinite number of other webpages they could be on, but when those users land on a page, they typically stick around until they become bored or want to check out some other piece of information on the web. Mobile users, on the other hand, face perpetual off-device distractions — use of their mobile device is secondary. Byrne Hobart, founder of investment research firm Digital Due Diligence, observes that mobile marketers are “writing for an audience that’s in the middle of something else.” They might be waiting for their subway stop, their floor on an elevator, their line to be called at Whole Foods, a friend to show up at a restaurant. Point is, the number of off-device distractions for mobile users is limitless.
3. The (Very) Small Screen. Mobile devices have tiny screens — they simply do not fit a lot of content. It’s critical that marketers keep this in mind as they write copy. What will fit onto a user’s screen without scrolling?