Data from a Forrester Research Inc. study on mobile behavioral data found that while users are accessing more apps on their smartphones, tablets keep users engaged in their device for longer periods of time—and that’s a very important difference.

Content marketers have understood for quite some time that strategy (and content) for desktop and mobile platforms should be presented differently, and have thus separated them. It’s time to do the same with mobile—isolate tablets and smartphones and tailoring content accordingly for each. That begins with an understanding of what makes these two mobile devices distinct.

Marketers already develop mobile-specific content plans, but what marketers and consumers consider “mobile” is different. In an ExactTarget Marketing Mobile Behavior Report, only 14 percent of respondents said they associate mobile with tablets and e-readers, and 32 percent said they associate mobile with ease of use on the go (let’s call this pocket-ability).

Furthermore, consumers are using tablets and smartphones differently and for varying periods of time. Almost every type of app is more likely to be accessed through a smartphone than on a tablet. The one type of app the reigns supreme on tablets is media apps—think YouTube, Netflix and BuzzFeed (not surprising if you’ve ever tried to watch a video on a smartphone). 

If consumers don’t consider tablets and smartphones to be under the same umbrella of “mobile,” they aren’t using them for the same things, and they aren’t accessing them for the same amount of time, then it’s important to adjust your mobile strategy and focus on adapting content for each specific device.

Thinking of tablets and smartphones separately from “mobile devices” is a good first step. While tablets lend themselves to a rich-media experience, including vibrant photos and videos, smartphones are best for on-the-go solutions. Tailor your content accordingly. For tablet users, feature engaging videos and interesting reading. E-books and colorful infographics, for example, are perfectly suited for the tablet experience.

Smartphones, on the other hand, could feature task-oriented service options for the visitor on the go in a way that’s easy to find information quickly. Making sure your content strategy has specific goals for all of the different devices that constitute “mobile” will ensure that users have the optimal experience across all possible gadgets.

Forrester pointed out the mobile experiences from Lufthansa, a German airline, as a primary example of a company that differentiates between tablets and smartphones and promotes content and services relevant to each device. 


The photo on the right represents Lufthansa’s tablet experience, featuring photos and sections for reading and browsing, while the photo on the left depicts Lufthansa’s smartphone view, offering users quick shortcuts for what they may need for a flight.

This layout taps into a smartphone’s key function: pocket-ability. The user accessing Lufthansa on their phone is most likely on the go—otherwise they would probably be using their desktop. They don’t want to read up on the airline or look at pictures; they want to know if their flight is on-time, check-in, etc., and they want to obtain that information quickly.

It’s important for the experience to be consistent across all channels. Customers should be able to find the same information however they access it, but that doesn’t mean the user experience has to be identical. Focusing on what each device is best equipped for, and what some of their shortcomings may be, is key to presenting the best content specific to that platform.

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