In the B2C space there's a lot of buzz around mobile marketing, but in the B2B sector it's more likened to a whisper.
Yet amid the low level of mobile chatter, B2Bs are missing out on super-sized opportunities for integrating a valuable new brand touch point for their customers and establishing a dynamic new communications channel with professional audiences.
Make no mistake about it, mobile has arrived—and it's changing how (and where) business professionals communicate with one another and how (and why) they interact with B2B brands.
And for B2Bs, mobile's arrival means their marketing must also change if they want to maintain a presence in the media where their audiences have already migrated.
On that imperative, here are five reasons why mobile marketing is prime for B2Bs, along with five key questions that B2B marketers should be asking themselves:
1. Explosive adoption rates: Business markets have adopted mobile devices in droves—in fact, it's the one device that never leaves users' sides (or pockets)
Forecasts call for 5.8 billion mobile subscribers worldwide by 2013, ballooning from the current 4.3 billion mobile subscribers, with revenue from mobile data expected to surpass fixed-voice revenue by as early as next year.
Mobile madness has already hit such a fever pitch that 15 US states have passed laws regulating how and where we use our mobile devices.
Regarding the business proposition, marketers must stay mindful that professionals not only use their mobile devices to stay connected but also rely on them to stay informed and make business decisions when working remotely.
And phone calls are just one part, considering innovations such as smartphones, which have morphed our mobile devices into pocket-sized PCs that just happen to also ring.
As Joe Pemberton, principal and brand director of Punchcut, says, "We're talking about the most intimate of media: a device that is always on and that is with users at all times. A device where they select what apps they download, the sites they load, and the people with [whom] they connect."
Perhaps most striking is the "new normal" we witness ourselves. The next time you're at an industry event, look around the room to see how unremarkable it has become for the crowd to not only be engaging in conversations with one another but also simultaneously holding text conversations with people who aren't in attendance.
Then scan the same crowd to see how many are looking straight ahead at what's going on in front of them... and how often they're looking down to see what's happening across their mobile-device screens.
Key question: If business professionals are constantly connected to their mobile phones, why wouldn't your marketing strategy and approaches work to connect your B2B brand to those devices and, in turn, to your business markets?
2. Fulfilling business-centric needs: Business professionals engage with their mobile devices by virtue of necessity, and needs always trump wants
Teenagers would argue that their 24/7 texting is an absolute need for surviving high school (vs. a desire to stay connected to their peers). And for most consumers, of any age, mobile devices signify an unparalleled level of convenience and access.
In the case of business professionals, mobile devices keep them informed of industry developments and allow them to be constantly accessible to their teams. Therefore, professionals use their mobile devices to fulfill business needs (vs. personal wants) that keep their companies running at optimal levels of productivity, performance, and profitability.
As Bruce Nowjack, senior product manager for SinglePoint, explains, "Consumers have an expectation to be continually in the know—for traffic, weather, finance, news—regardless of where they are, and friends and companies support this, through SMS [texting] and other mobile approaches. These same people expect a comparable level of up-to-the-minute knowledge in their business lives and need to receive breaking information to gain a competitive advantage in their businesses."
Key question: If mobile lends competitive advantage—and for many savvy B2Bs, a first-mover opportunity—how can your company leverage mobile to leap ahead of competitors through programs designed to help your audience meet their business-centric needs in meaningful ways?
3. A uniquely "personal" channel: Mobile is the most personal communications channel and the closest you'll get to your business market, other than in-person interactions
All companies are looking for ways to get closer to their markets. For B2Bs, however, building relationships and maintaining customer relationships (i.e., customer relationship management) has always been the key to their success. And in the high-touch B2B branding and selling environment, with the exception of face-to-face interactions, mobile is the closest you'll get to your business market.
Moreover, mobile is the most personal of all media. As high-tech digital marketing manager Zoe Sands points out, "The mobile channel is the most personal communication tool and the closest you are ever going to get to someone who opts into your communications, with messaging more likely to be read on the small screen than on the PC screen."
Key question: Since mobile provides a highly personal channel for customer communications, how can your B2B use it to start new dialogues and forge new relationships with business audiences?
4. New ways into their worlds: Business professionals will exchange their information, time, and attention in return for mobile benefits
Mobile tools—such as SMS alerts, location-based services, downloadable applications, and widgets—enable B2Bs to provide their audiences with entirely new sources of value.
That value ranges from helping professionals stay informed of industry news and managing the locations of their sales meetings to performing tasks more easily from their mobile phones and downloading apps that improve the experience of their business events.
In exchange for the benefits provided, B2Bs receive information and attention from their target audiences that they can then leverage to increase brand awareness and initiate new brand dialogues, with some of those relationships yielding new revenues for their organizations.
Chris Koch, director of research and thought leadership at ITSMA (IT Services Marketing Association), explains, "As marketers, we're so used to expecting to have to beat down the doors to get access to buyers that we forget that there are times when they actually want to be found. Not necessarily by us, but by their peers—for example, at conferences, tradeshows, etc. The exploding world of smartphone applications will give us an opportunity to enable connections between peers and open the doors for us to market to them."
Key question: Given the growing array of mobile technologies and tools, how can your B2B use those innovations to deliver benefits to professionals to encourage them to invite your brands into their worlds?
5. The anytime/anywhere Web necessitates "more show, less tell": With larger amounts of information to manage on smaller screens, business audiences need content in "bite-sized chunks" and to be optimized to mobile environments via text, audio, or video
Even when business professionals are working off-site, they're still seeking information that will inform their work, improve their efficiency, and influence their purchasing decisions.
But B2Bs are notorious for producing content-heavy collateral, simply because their offerings are so complex. After all, B2Bs aren't selling $2 sugar water so much as $2 million enterprise software systems; thus, B2B purchasing cycles entail a great deal of scrutiny and a high level of buyer involvement.
The big action point: B2Bs need to constantly consider the mobile-viewing experience by offering content that is optimized for all screens, large or small.
Whether creating two-minute video case studies (instead of two-page text documents), recording short audio podcasts that provide helpful tips, or writing 100-word snapshots of 10,000-word thought-leadership pieces—content optimizations make all the difference to professionals who still need the data that B2Bs publish, but in manageable, mobile-friendly formats.
Key question: Since business professionals aren't always at their desktop computers when they require information that directly informs and influences their purchases, how can your B2B company produce and optimize data in formats that are easily viewed on mobile devices?
* * *
In upcoming articles, I'll cover the various tools, best-practices, and ways that B2Bs can use mobile to increase the return on investment of their current marketing programs, but in the interim this 10-Step Starter Guide for Integrating Mobile Into the B2B Marketing Mix may prove helpful.
Continue reading "Five Reasons Why Mobile Marketing Is Prime for B2Bs—And Five Key Questions B2B Marketers Should Be Asking" ... Read the full article
MarketingProfs provides thousands of marketing resources, entirely free!
Simply subscribe to our newsletter and get instant access to how-to articles, guides, webinars and more for nada, nothing, zip, zilch, on the house...delivered right to your inbox! MarketingProfs is the largest marketing community in the world, and we are here to help you be a better marketer.
You may like these other MarketingProfs articles related to Mobile:
- How SMS Automation Bridges the Gap Between Your Sales Team and Customers and Supports Digital Transformation
- Audiences' Attitudes Toward Mobile Ads and Apps [Infographic]
- Why B2B Apps Need App Store Optimization Now More Than Ever
- The Most Effective Marketing Tactics for Driving App Installs
- Text Marketing: 2020's Digital Disruptor