As mobile continues to grow, and as more marketers adopt a mobile-first mentality, it only makes sense to think about what content performs best on these devices.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

We’re not saying this as a cop out. We’ve all just read too many articles and reports that claim one thing and deliver a far different result. So instead of thinking generically about performance on mobile devices, we’ll look at what content performs well on mobile devices in specific situations.

Disclaimer: this isn’t a post about mobile UX best practices. This is about content. For mobile UX design, check our post, Building a Great Mobile Site Experience—Every Time.

Let’s get down to it.

Long-form Content vs. Short-form Content

It’s generally accepted that long-form posts (blogs over 1,000 words) tend to perform better in the SERPs than short-form content (infographics, lists, and posts under 1,000 words).

But if you had to guess which type of content performs best on mobile devices, which would you pick?

Surprisingly enough, research from Buzzsumo confirms long-form content trumps short-form in pretty much everything—social shares, time on page, and visits—despite a lower quantity of articles.

Quoting Moz’s article, “85% of content published (excluding videos and quizzes) is less than 1,000 words long. However, long form content of over 1,000 words consistently receives more shares and links than shorter form content. Either people ignore the data or it is simply too hard for them to write quality long form content.”

The research also tells us that users spend more time digesting long-form content. The obvious reason for this might be because the actual article is longer, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that contrary to all the fuss about diminishing human attention spans, we can (and do) still consume in-depth content, and will do so on mobile devices in particular.

Although your gut may tell you to produce shorter “shareable” content, data tells us that long-form content will ultimately earn more shares.

Video on Social Media to Drive Awareness

Compared to images or links, videos on Facebook get the most shares—about 1200% more shares than text and images combined. As Facebook continues to push video, marketers should continue to experiment with both native video and live video to find the best engagement possible (despite the somewhat questionable reporting metrics around video).

To give you a quick example, we looked at our own Facebook page to see if these stats held true. All of the examples were posted organically with no boosting or paid spend behind them. And while some of the image posts certainly had some good engagement (such as likes and comments), the pieces of content that had the most shares were all video.

element three on facebook

Keep in mind that posting a bunch of videos on Facebook without knowing how they fit into your overall marketing plan will accomplish little. If you’re trying to use video on Facebook to drive bottom of the funnel conversions…good luck. But if you’re using it to build brand awareness and loyalty, you’ll probably find more success.

User-focused Mobile-specific Content

If a visitor is searching your site on a mobile device, what kind of information are they looking for? How do they access that information? Do visitors coming from mobile have different intentions than desktop visitors?

While we can’t say “reviews always do well on mobile,” we can point out that presenting helpful content to mobile users—and their unique needs—is definitely something you need to keep in mind.

For example, if you’re a restaurant or retail store, searchers might be looking for your contact information including phone number and address, or hours and reservation information. If you’re selling a product, mobile users might want to read reviews or find out where the closest dealer is.

You have to be strategic with mobile—there’s only a limited amount of space. So prioritizing content based on the importance to the user (as well as making sure your visitors reach your CTAs) will help conversion rates on mobile devices.

Images (or Cutting Video) on Conversion Pages

All right, all right. So this one isn’t really what content performs best on mobile, but rather what content performs poorly on mobile.

You may have read stats that claim things like, “video increases conversion rates by up to 30%!” Spoiler: they’re probably talking about desktop.

In fact, most of these articles use Zappos as the golden example. The e-commerce shoe company was one of the first to add video to their product pages to bump conversion rates. And guess what? Conversion rates increased anywhere from 6% to 30%. Pretty good.

But what these articles often leave out is how video affects mobile conversion rates. If you head to the Zappos website on your phone, you’ll find that the product video has been cut—most likely because conversion rates dropped.

Video might increase conversion rates on desktop pages, but it could also decrease them on mobile devices.

You might be thinking, “Maybe there’s another reason why they ditched the product video on mobile…maybe it’s not a conversion rate issue.” Perhaps. But from my experience working with a few discount e-commerce brands, video on desktop product pages increased conversion rates. On mobile, it lowered them. So if you’re jumping aboard the video train to increase conversion rates, make sure to test it first.

In the End, It’s Really About the Guts—Not the Medium

We could look into which content mediums perform best on mobile devices for days. But what’s most important isn’t whether the piece of content is a video, image, 300 words, or 10,000 words—it’s about whether it provides value to your target audience. Do they find it engaging? Does it answer their question? Does the content create brand affinity?

And once you figure out the message you need to convey to your audience, then you can start to think about the different content mediums to take advantage of, and which to use for your increasingly mobile audience.

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Mollie Kuramoto

From competing with her brothers while growing up to captaining Purdue’s soccer team, Mollie seeks out challenges wherever they may lie. That’s why she’s perfectly suited for content marketing – building content, measuring results, and trying to top your previous performance is what it’s all about, and Mollie knocks it out of the park every time. When she’s not creating killer content, Mollie’s usually playing soccer, traveling, or drawing, and she hopes to become a part-time cheesemonger someday because “the title is funny.”