When going through a website redesign, today’s marketers are quickly confronted with the term “responsive.” When it comes to websites, responsiveness refers to an approach to design that enables an optimal interactive and viewing experience for users across a wide range of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in addition to desktop computers.

Responsiveness has become so ingrained in designer and developer vocabulary that marketers have taken note and are becoming more informed on the importance of responsive design for their own websites.

But today I’d like to introduce a slightly different term to you: mobile-first content marketing, responsive design’s lesser-known – but equally attractive – cousin.

Mobile-First Content Marketing?

To get straight to the point, mobile-first content marketing is all about thinking with a mobile-first mindset! I know what you’re thinking. Using a term to define itself is generally frowned upon, but it’s really as straightforward as it sounds.

Mobile-first means starting your content marketing strategy with the mobile device experience at the very forefront of your mind. Mobile-first does not mean waiting until you’ve finalized your content for desktop users and then turning around to make adjustments for the mobile device users as an afterthought.

Mobile first. Desktop second. Got it?

But Why Should Mobile Come First?

More than ever before, your visitors are using their smartphones to view your content. A 2012 study found that 75 percent of Americans bring their phones with them into the bathroom! (I guess the back of a shampoo bottle just doesn’t cut it as good reading material anymore.)

Though this statistic is a bit candid, it helps to emphasize our new reality: We now have instant access to the Internet right at our fingertips from anywhere at any time, thanks to our mobile devices.

Has this shift had any impact on how people conduct business? Absolutely! Our current on-demand, “swipe right” culture means consumer decisions and conversions now happen very quickly. In fact, 70 percent of mobile searches lead to action on a visited website within one hour. More importantly, 40 percent of users will move on to another website if they feel their user experience on a website isn’t optimized for mobile use.

Seventy percent of mobile searches lead to action on a visited website within one hour.

What does this tell us? We must focus on making our audience’s online experience as easy as possible.

Mobile-First vs. Responsive Design

On the surface, the difference between mobile-first and responsive design might seem vague. While the concepts are similar, responsive content tends to be more reactive, where as mobile-first content is more proactive.

More to the point, responsive content is built on the desktop and adapted to perform well on mobile devices. This is a step in the right direction, however, it doesn’t place the necessary emphasis on the mobile user experience.

Mobile-first content, on the other hand, begins with the foundational understanding that over 60 percent of website traffic comes from mobile and portable devices. Mobile-first thinking then acts upon this insight to create a better experience for mobile users from the start – not as a last-minute addition or half-hearted attempt at search engine compliance.

That being said, mobile-first marketing is not a replacement for responsive design. They are meant to work together. A mobile-first state of mind uses responsive design to achieve its goals and develop the best mobile experience.

Key Takeaways

If you’re a marketer, now is the time to adopt a mobile-first mindset. Your audience – regardless of industry – is only going to come to rely upon their mobile devices more and more in the years to come. Rather than designing a beautiful desktop website and forcing it to fit on smaller devices, plan out both versions at the same time. Give yourself a visual end-goal so that you – at any time during the development process – know how the site will ultimately look on both desktop and mobile.

Begin your content strategy by accepting that you have a large audience whose mobile needs must be addressed, and move forward by creating the best experience for those users.

And again, for the sake of your on-the-go audience, remember: mobile-first, desktop second.

Read more: Need to Know Essentials – Mobile Content Marketing