The role of mobile in business marketing (and why B2B needs to step up)

Anyone who’s run an event or spoken at one knows, Q&A panels can be hard. Unpredictable. Downright awkward at times.

When I asked an expert panel at a mobile marketing summit in Auckland recently about the role of mobile in B2B, I honestly wasn’t trying to trip anyone up. Nevertheless, the question drew a series of blank stares and for a split second, a panel in panic.

It’s not surprising that in the world of mobile, most of the case studies, content and apparent expertise is heavily skewed toward B2C. But, when did selling a tin of beans become more savvy and data driven than selling a highly sophisticated business tool? No offence to Heinz (or NZ’s Watties), but I think B2B can do better.

So, it got me thinking…

Why does B2B marketing often lag behind its consumer counterpart in terms of marketing sophistication?

While it’s easy to see the opportunities mobile presents for consumer marketing, B2B should also be doing more to leverage this medium.

Having thought more about the question myself, here’s what I’ve come up with…

Ultimately, we’re still all just people.

When I worked in finance, it was difficult at times for our agencies to understand the complex subject matter, let alone empathise with the challenges facing our corporate clients.

After all, a Creative is unlikely to ever request a credit derivative. But as with all marketing, everything comes back to an emotional driver. Businesses are made up of people, just like you and I, that are driven by similar emotional triggers, behaviours and ambitions. Mostly.

Globalisation has brought about the growth of business travel and remote working, both of which have blurred the lines between work and play, and represent a significant opportunity for mobile.

Save someone time or provide access to opportune information in the travel corridor or when they’re multi-tasking between work and family, and you can capture your market. Where better to do that than on a mobile device?

Just remember to stick to business hours for those still bound to a traditional office environment. While 9-5 is mostly a thing of the past, targeting someone on a mobile device out of hours is still considered bad etiquette.

So how do you captivate someone on mobile who is already at work on a desktop? By merging the two… (Click each heading to read more detail)

  • There are tools out there to help you make the connection and enable clever targeting and storytelling across devices. Personalise that and you’ll have even better conversion rates.

  • It’s en route to and from work, and during breaks that we’re most receptive to business-relevant mobile content.

    While mobile may not be the most convenient way of digesting your content during this time, providing an easy opportunity to save it and revisit on a desktop, or retargeting them once they get back to their desks (see step one) will ensure you remain top of mind during those crucial business hours.

    Sharing capabilities will also help you pass through the gate-keeper and on to the decision maker if your message is 100% relevant and differentiated.

  • A number of B2B technology companies already do this well. For example, Concur’s expenses app enables the traveler to use the camera in their Smartphones to save receipts and code expenses while in transit.

    This has reduced the pain of entering expenses after a trip while also giving the traveler peace of mind by discarding their paper receipts. But it won’t stop there. Mobile payments will no doubt eliminate the need to code expenses altogether.

    Travel and entertainment companies servicing the corporate market should be looking at ways to provide frictionless booking, check-in, check-out and payment experiences for corporate travelers. And where better to do this than in real-time on the device they take with them everywhere?

  • With SMS experiencing 98% open rates, text can be a better method of communication than email for urgent notifications, reminders or immediate response offers.

    Service orders, delivery communications and short-term discounts work particularly well. Just remember that this is a more personal and invasive form of communication so use it sparingly or the only thing you’ll earn will be a spike in your unsubscribes.

  • Now days, mobile is essentially our personalised swiss army knife. In a compact device it: houses our messages, contacts and media; socially connects us to our family, friends and colleagues; and provides real-time access to information, anywhere, anytime.

    It tracks where we are and where we’ve been, what we like and dislike, and it can remind us to make decisions.

    With email the primary business tool on a mobile, B2B marketers have an endlessly creative opportunity to lead their prospects through a unique buying experience that leverages the native capabilities only a mobile can provide. And, according to research by State of Digital, doing this well will pay off because 65% of C-level executives are completely comfortable with making a business purchase on a mobile device.

    For those of you marketing to workers that are not sitting at a desktop all day, the opportunity is even larger.

    Companies targeting people that work in construction, healthcare or sales should look to upweight their mobile marketing budget. While these audiences won’t necessarily have access to mobile all day, it’ll likely be their primary device so look to ways in which you can either educate and entertain in their downtime, or simplify their uptime.

    Captivate, don’t aggravate.

Think mobile first, don’t just adapt.

Regardless of whether you’re marketing to consumers or businesses, the overarching message is clear: it could all be done much better on mobile.

Most of us are still not leveraging the native capabilities in mobile well enough.

Viewing mobile as a channel rather than the media itself is limiting marketers creativity and audience engagement – if you’re simply adapting your desktop campaigns for mobile then you’re missing a trick.

Minimum requirements for mobile include search and web accessibility. A study by Google and Millward Brown Digital of 3,000 B2B decision makers discovered that 42% of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process. And they’re not just using it when they’re out of the office – 49% who use their mobile devices for research, do so while at work.

If your search capability or website experience isn’t a pleasant one on mobile, potential leads are likely to go elsewhere. Sites that are not mobile friendly are affected by Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm and if someone manages to find you despite this, they’re unlikely to waste their time trying to navigate a site that isn’t optimised for that experience.

B2B marketers shouldn’t stop there. Think about how location feeds, voice activation and mixed reality (the collision of physical, augmented and virtual worlds) can really assist your audience in performing their jobs better and generally make their working lives easier.

There are even opportunities to better capture your audience on a mobile than on a desktop. For example, replace contact forms with click-to-call buttons – capture your audience when they’re ready and make it easy for them to make contact via their phone.

Next time you plan a campaign, whether it be to the Dad of three at the weekends or the same guy in a suit during office hours, it might be worth taking a little longer to think about the best multi-device experience.

Mobile will almost always be part of this and if done well, I’m sure he’ll thank you for it. He may even sing your praises socially… using his mobile!

The role of mobile in business marketing (and why B2B needs to step up)

Modern Marketing Essential Guide to Mobile Marketing

Enjoy this blog & want to dive deeper into mobile marketing? Download this guide and learn how mobile marketing can be your most effective engagement strategy