Content To Go: Thought Leadership for a “Fast Food” Reader


We live in a world of “more.” More access. More entertainment. More choices. More to read. More strains on time. With an endless universe of information, services and connectivity right in the palm of our hands, we have become conditioned to expect unlimited availability of everything and everyone, on-demand. One look around any city street makes it clear that smartphones rule the modern world. And a quick scan of recent research validates what we already suspect from experience: mobile devices have fundamentally changed the way we communicate and consume content.


Between 2012 and 2017, the volume of email opened on mobile devices jumped more than 25 percent. Stone Temple reported in a study this year that 58 percent of all website visits were via mobile, and mobile devices made up 42 percent of total time spent online. A Boston Consulting Group survey of B2B buyers found that 60 percent of survey respondents expect to increase mobile usage in the coming years. Mobile search queries are expected to represent 70 percent of all digital search queries by next year. The number of mobile users surpassed the number of desktop users three years ago.


Today, readers are in a hurry, and want their content like they want their lunch: flavorful, filling and fast. This means audiences expect information to be presented in a way that conveys valuable information, even if they spend less than a minute reading it. They want content to display easily on their small screens and allow them to consume key points by skimming. If they can’t take an article “to go,” they won’t hesitate to move on.


Content creators have become increasingly sophisticated over the last five or so years, striving to adapt to ever-shrinking attention spans. Yet many still struggle to cater to the increasingly common “fast food” reader. Consumer brands are undoubtedly leading the charge. But many business thought leaders are stuck in convention, continuing to follow the status quo for publishing whitepapers, e-books, case studies, etc.


Largely, this continued reliance on stale PDFs and brochures is due to the fact that some B2B leaders believe mobile readership trends don’t apply to their target audiences. Research shows differently. In fact, the increasing dependence on mobile devices for information applies across the board to all audiences, and should be a critical consideration for B2B content strategy.

Not convinced? Consider this “fast” food for thought:

  • 42 percent of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process.

  • Over a two-year period, use of mobile through the entire purchase path (instead of just the initial research stage) grew by 91 percent.

  • Mobile usage ranges from 55 – 70 percent across multiple purchase categories and industries.

  • ·Among B2B buyers, 70 percent of those under 40 years old and 50 percent of those over 40 years old used mobile in a recent purchase.

  • Mobile visitors have a 9.56 percent higher bounce rate on average than desktop visitors, implying room for improvement in capturing and keeping mobile audiences.

  • B2B mobile leaders report that an average of 42 percent of revenue is contributed or influenced by mobile, compared to 14 percent among mobile laggards.

 Competitive and effective business thought leaders understand the importance of optimizing their content for today’s mobile reader. They may or may not realize it takes more than a modified PDF or a mobile-first website. Every element, from the way a piece is written and formatted, to the design and presentation, should be crafted in a way that enhances its on-the-go accessibility. In long-form content, strategic “chunking”—callout boxes and pull quotes that highlight the most important messages—is one strategy that works well. Interactive elements such as video clips and polls, which draw the reader in for a closer look, also improve mobile engagement. New digital platforms (like our favorite Foleon) are emerging to enable custom publishing across multiple channels and formats, so readers can engage with content at their desk or on the go.

 Whether you love fast food or hate it, read on mobile or desktop, are consumer facing or B2B, your content strategy must adapt to its readers. For now, that means embracing mobile as an important channel that matters to your thought leadership efforts and across the entire sales cycle.   

William Miller