I’ve been a web copywriter for long while now.

Longer than I’d care to think about.

A few years ago, I started to become anxious because I felt like I didn’t know enough about mobile copywriting. So I read everything I could about mobile and I realised that I already knew how to write good content for mobile devices.

The rules are the same:

  • Write with your prospect in mind
  • Have a goal for every piece of content you write
  • Make your copy scannable in bite sized chunks
  • Use clear language and calls to action

But there is one thing that is different…

I’ll get to what that is in a moment. First…

Back when web copywriting was born

Early in my career, I used to receive print documents to ‘copy and paste’ onto websites. This, of course, was what everyone did – websites were the last part of the marketing process. Somewhat of an afterthought.

And then we realised that the creative process in every other medium began with writing. Why didn’t we do this for the web?

It also turned out that how people used websites was vastly different to how people read magazines and books.

They dove in and out. They scanned the text and hardly recalled anything. They were dippers and seekers, going only for what they were looking for.

They were researching and learning. And that is exactly the same today.

But mobile has changed something.

Understanding what you read

Some very interesting findings are coming out about how content and people get along in a mobile environment, and the picture isn’t good if you like to write a lengthy article on your latest product developments.


Jakob Nielsen reports on research from the University of Alberta that Mobile Content Is Twice as Difficult to understand as desktop based web content.


In another couple studies, he also found that mobile users are particularly angry when they encounter information that seems like filler. If in Doubt, Leave it Out

So, all those times I’ve told my juniors and copywriting students to cut the crap from their copy was just a warm up.

Here’s a quote from one of the participants:

“This is what came to me as breaking news? That’s too much. It should be: This is what happened, and this is what’s going on.”

If you’ve been in any of our copywriting training courses, you’ll know that using the inverse pyramid style of the news media is best for online readers (main info in the headline and lead, then the rest of the details).

Well, it’s even more important for mobile.

You simply can’t waffle or you’ll risk angering (seriously, people get really mad when you waste their time on mobile devices) your audience at best and losing them outright as a customer at worst.


Nielsen makes an interesting intuitive leap here: “they feel duped because they didn’t get sufficient payoff from investing their precious time.”

See, YOU are taking up the time of your reader. They need to get something from it quickly – for whatever reason they are there – and if you don’t deliver, they feel cheated.

No one wants to feel like that.

Whether mobile or desktop web browser, your audience’s precious time is in your capable hands.

So don’t waste it. Those rules I pointed out at the beginning of this post were never more important to your business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *