Mobile isn’t just another option for publishers today; it’s the primary channel through which people access the Internet. It should form the crux of every company’s customer engagement strategy.

Mobile devices now account for over half of all global website traffic. Nearly 4 billion internet users visit websites, download apps, and consume content on their smartphones and tablets. As AppAnnie found in its State of Mobile 2020 report, the average time spent on mobile each day was up 35% from 2017 — reaching 3 hours and 40 minutes.

So, it’s no surprise that publishers and brands are investing in mobile to lead their digital transformations, with mobile ad spend reaching $240 billion this year — a 26% increase from 2019.

The question is: How can small publishers, bloggers, and niche websites more effectively monetize their mobile content and keep audiences engaged?

The answer lies in optimizing your mobile user experience (UX) and design. That’s why we’re breaking down mobile UX best practices and highlighting winning mobile UX examples that increase article completion rates, subscriptions, and clicks to ads and related content. Here’s what you need to know.

Mobile UX Best Practices for Completion Rate

Here are the key strategies publishers use to encourage people to read entire articles and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Responsive Design

There are many different mobile device sizes. Use responsive design to ensure your site loads seamlessly across all of them.

With responsive design, your site layout changes to best suit the screen size of someone’s mobile device. If, for example, a reader accesses your site on a tablet, they may see two columns, but if they access it on a smartphone, they may see one.

Here, Wired has sidebar ads on its desktop site, but on mobile it integrates those ads into the single column containing the article.

Responsive design creates a frictionless and more intuitive experience for users, making them more likely to stay on your site and read your entire page.

Minimize Distractions

This is a simple strategy that’s often overlooked — especially by publishers looking to monetize their sites with ads. It’s tempting to insert display ads, pop ups, and sign-up forms throughout an article page, but by keeping the layout simple — and focusing on the content the reader came to see — you have a greater chance of retaining your audience.

Just look at this clean-lined sponsored article on USA Today:

Mobile UX Best Practices for Clicks to Related Content

When readers finish an article, you don’t want them to exit your site. Ideally, they’ll click on another article that’s related to their interests and keep engaging with the content you provide. Here’s how to help them do that.

Optimize Touch Targets

Have you ever tapped on a mobile button or link — a.k.a. a touch target — and been frustrated when it didn’t work because your finger was too big and the button too small? If so, you’re not alone.

That’s why it’s best to create touch targets that cover at least the average fingertip width of 7-10 mm. They should also be placed at least 8 pixels apart, to prevent readers accidentally tapping the wrong target.

The Food52 blog, for example, ends its articles with big buttons for popular content on its site.

Offer Personalized, Recommended Content

According to Adobe, consumer demand for personalized content is at its highest point right now, and personalization is key for publishers who want to survive in the digital realm. Adobe found 67% of audiences say it’s important for brands to “automatically adjust content based on their current context,” and 42% get frustrated when their content isn’t personalized.

Keep readers engaged with Taboola Feed, which programmatically provides personalized, recommended content for every visitor. Target audiences according to demographic, behaviors, and interests. Publishers can also maintain control by using keyword filters, category selection, and block capabilities.

Mobile UX Best Practices for Growing Subscriptions

Subscriptions are a lifeline for many publishers trying to survive online. Membership packages make up for a lack of advertising revenue and subscription tiers build loyal-user bases. In fact, The New York Times credited its subscription model and digital advertising for boosting its revenues by $100 million last year. Here’s how publishers are optimizing their mobile designs to drive subscriptions.

CTAs in the Thumb Zone

Yes, the thumb zone is a real thing. When you hold a mobile device with one hand, your thumb can easily tap a portion of the screen. This is the thumb zone.

Put your call-to-action (CTA) buttons and subscription sign-up forms in this area, where they’re easily accessible to users. C’mon, don’t make people stretch or switch their fingers. You know better than that.

Take online magazine Mental Floss, it places its YouTube subscribe link, social buttons, and navigation bar all in the prime thumb zone.

Simplify User Data Inputing

Understandably, you want to find out as much as you can about your readers, but don’t create an overly complicated sign-up form. If you don’t need to know someone’s phone number, address, Twitter account, maiden name, and favorite breakfast food, don’t ask for it. Include only necessary fields, such as name and email address, so users can quickly and easily subscribe.

WhoWhatWear has a one-tap subscribe option that automatically populates a sign-up request with the user’s email address.

Mobile UX Best Practices for Ad Clicks and Sponsored Content

According to eMarketer, the biggest digital revenue streams for publishers across the world are display ads, subscriptions, and native advertising. Let’s dive into the mobile UX strategies publishers are using to generate clicks on ads and sponsored content.

Make Ads Fit the Page Context

It’s important to match ads to reader interest, but it’s also crucial to match ads to the layout and context of the web page, creating a more intuitive and less disruptive UX.

This is where native advertising comes in — allowing publishers to join advertising partners in providing relevant, seamlessly integrated content to readers. As eMarketer projects, US advertisers will spend almost two-thirds of their display budgets on native advertising in 2020 — a 20% increase from 2019 — with much of that going towards mobile.

Just look at BuzzFeed, which works with big brands to create sponsored listicles that fit right into the publication’s lexicon.

Reach People at the Moment of Next

When are readers most ready to engage with something new? Taboola and Nielsen discovered that it’s right after reading an article. This is when people experience a rapid increase in attentiveness and emotional response. This is when they reach the ‘moment of next.’

We also found that people want to see a feed at this moment. They’re 20% more attentive and 17% more emotionally responsive when presented with a continuous scroll, compared to when they read articles without content recommendations at the bottom.

That’s why we work with publishers to place Taboola Feeds at the end of their articles — offering recommended articles and videos to readers when they’re eager to consume new content.

Designing a Better User Experience

Mobile UX design is about so much more than creating a pretty website. It’s about providing the most engaging, intuitive, and productive experience for each website visitor. Whether your goal is to keep people on the page, drive clicks, or increase subscriptions, take these critical steps to hook audiences and maintain a competitive edge in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

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