Previously published in Chief Marketer magazine
As the mobile revolution ensues, adoption among B2B organizations is expanding at an unprecedented pace. The perception that B2B marketers need not make mobile a priority is finally shifting and we’re starting to see increased focus on the role mobile plays in successful B2B marketing programs.
A recent Forbes survey found that 82% of C-suite executives had a smartphone. The same survey found that respondents under 50 identified their mobile device as their primary business communication tool.
To stay in front of key decision makers, B2B marketers need to keep up, or they risk relevance in a permanently shifting business landscape. Here are five mobile observations B2B marketers should consider when building strategic programs.
1. The Time to Consider Mobile for B2B Was Yesterday
With more than 234 million mobile users age 13 and older in the United States (comScore Reports 2012), and B2B customers using smartphones more than B2C customers (MarketingSherpa 2012), it should come as no surprise that mobile growth is reaching new heights in the B2B space.
JPL studied several of our B2B client websites to better understand current mobile interactions. The number of visits from smartphones and tablets increased nearly 150% over a 12-month period – a growth trend that mirrors national predictions. Forrester Research predicts that B2B mobile marketing will grow from $26 million in 2009 to $106 million in 2014, while Microsoft Tag expects that mobile Internet usage will take over desktop usage by 2014. B2B marketers who are not already leveraging mobile need to get in the game because the mobile revolution is here and it’s permanently shifting the way we do business.
2. Expectations for B2B and B2C Customers Don’t Differ for Mobile
A mobile user is a mobile user, regardless of whether the user is conducting a B2B or B2C search. Each of us is a consumer, and it is our experience as a consumer that largely drives our expectation for the mobile experience.
B2B marketers should focus on creating an optimized experience that seamlessly delivers content across the desktop, tablet or smartphone. Know your audience and what content, features and functionality are most important to them. Also consider that optimization for mobile may require a new format. For example, a traditional case study may be too text heavy to be usable on a mobile platform, but translating that material into a short video could improve engagement and results.
3. Email Optimization Can’t Take the Back Burner
According to a July 2012 survey from Pardot, approximately 25% of B2B marketers are still ignoring mobile optimization, while at the same time, the number of emails opened on mobile devices continues to increase. As platforms like Facebook take off for B2C customer engagement, email is still a dominant communication platform in the B2B space.
Further, optimized email needs to direct users to content that is also optimized for mobile. Directing an email recipient to the desktop version of a company website can negate all efforts and resources invested in creating an optimized email in the first place. Thus, mobile optimization needs to be integrated into the delivery platform for your marketing program.
4. Mobile is Penetrating All Aspects of the Business
Many progressive companies are already using the mobile platform to support and facilitate their sales and lead nurturing efforts – creating optimized emails for busy executives or leveraging video and presentations for on-demand sales support. Mobile users have the benefit of a library of content available at the touch of the screen, or the ability to deliver on-the-spot demonstrations in any environment – from the tradeshow or production floor to a chance meeting at your child’s T-ball game.
Mobile also is an effective tool to drive stronger social results. Leveraging mobile to manage social platforms enables faster engagement with followers, new training capabilities for employees in the field, and a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of campaigns, as discussed on social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. As social continues its parallel ascent, it presents a huge growth opportunity for B2B marketers. To realize the value and benefit, however, marketers need to effectively identify the right mix of social platforms based on the needs of their target audience. With B2B marketers shifting to content-driven strategies, social has become a key channel to generate quality leads.
5. Brands are Better Understanding Customers Through Mobile
With mobile adoption comes a new level of customer analytics. B2B marketers are already tracking customer analytics via desktop web engagement, but understanding customer behavior via the mobile platform generates a more complete picture of customer engagement and how habits are shifting with the rapid-fire increase of smartphone and tablet adoption. B2B marketers need to evaluate both the mobile and the desktop experience and understand how those experiences overlap or differ. The point of intersection can be used to derive insights that help optimize the user experience and guide content creation. Ultimately these insights help B2B marketers better understand their customers, and enables the delivery of the right content, to the right audience at the right time.
Amidst the talk of a mobile revolution and the number of mobile users expanding at lightning speed, it is important to remember that many B2B decision makers already rely on mobile for their everyday business needs. For B2B marketers, adopting a wait-and-see approach will only place you farther behind as your customer’s needs and expectations continue to grow. Now is the time to get in the game. Build mobile strategy into your integrated programs or risk watching from the sideline as your competition uses mobile to win in the marketplace.