Consumer preference for accessing content through mobile devices is now almost universal. Business buyers are not far behind, using their devices to research their needs and identify further sources of information, potential vendors, and service providers.
In fact, B2B mobile usage is intensifying throughout the entire buying cycle. According to a Google and Millward Brown Digital study of 3,000 B2B decision-makers about their research and purchase habits:
- 42% of researchers use a mobile device during their purchasing process.
- Search activity for those using a smartphone has intensified.
- B2B researchers aren't just using mobile devices when they are out of the office; 49% of those who use their mobile devices for research—comparing prices, reading about products, comparing feature sets—do so while at work.
Companies can respond to these opportunities by infusing "mobile experiences" that span marketing, customer service, e-commerce, and IT functions so that the customer experience is fluid, yet consistent.
Here are four ways B2B companies can use mobile along the customer journey.
1. Build immediacy in customer engagement with SMS texts
SMS offers B2B marketers unparalleled reach, a simple method of engagement, and the ability to deliver information with a sense of immediacy.
Although SMS is powerful in its own right, it is also a highly effective complement to other digital marketing tactics. Employing SMS is the easiest initial method for customers and prospects to connect to your brand, and as a way to opt in to your use of their mobile phone number.
Offer a service where your business clients can sign up for text-based ordering reminders. For instance, if a company orders your product or service every quarter, send a "time to reorder?" message a few days before the normal ordering date. If you make your customers' jobs easier and less stressful, they'll consider your company for future purchasing decisions.
Identify specific opportunities to engage customers and prospects via SMS. Focus on useful pieces of information that you can deliver at their moment of peak value. Build engagement scenarios that ramp up in intensity from SMS to mobile Web to, if applicable, native mobile applications, and even your pre-sales or sales teams.
2. Extend the value of live events
B2B buyers expect fluidity between digital and physical experiences. Digitize content to shift live events from point-in-time activities to the centerpieces of ongoing customer interactions. A 2017 B2B Content Marketing Trends report showed that in-person events are in the top four marketing tactics.
Mobile devices, proximity sensors, and badge scanners help marketers learn more about target buyers and engage current customers by helping attendees network, solve problems, and meet experts. Mobile easily allows users to become part of the action by responding to surveys, sharing photos and comments socially, and giving real-time feedback. Moreover, B2B marketers can extend the event impact with digital content and experiences for ongoing engagement with prospects and customers.
3. Enhance customer service and care
Mobile is pivotal in customer care not only because of increased consumer usage and satisfaction with this touchpoint but also because of productivity gains. Today, virtually all customer service offers some mobile customer service capabilities.
A recent study found that a whopping $62 billion is lost through poor customer service in the US.
Customers will demand greater ability and flexibility to interact with customer service organizations via mobile devices—for example, reading an FAQ while speaking with a customer service agent.
Customers can send SMS messages to company landlines and connect with a live agent who can answer questions in real-time via text. One great innovation in customer service software is the ability to record and share screens and videos. It enables customers to record the issue they are having either on their screen (for software issues) or using their webcam (for hardware/product issues) so the customer service agent knows exactly what is happening. As a response, the agent can record the solution, or the steps to take to resolve the issue, and share it with the customer to provide clear instructions.
Create troubleshooting videos for common problems and make them available for free on iTunes and the Android market. Direct customers to these videos and ask for feedback on how effective they were in solving the issue. That feedback will become another valuable connection to your customer and improve your company's own resources.
Mobile is not only a channel for customer service but also an overarching aspect of the customer experience. Each interaction should convey consistent and personalized data, contextual knowledge, and information to the customer.
4. Support the sales force
B2B marketers often find themselves tasked with creating tools for Sales to use in the field. Mobile devices present an opportunity to create dynamic, timely collateral that goes beyond standard case studies and leave-behinds.
For example, a medical technology company loaded short videos of its best customer references and product demos and provided them to their sales reps on mobile devices. B2B marketers can also push out sales-enablement assets, such as pricing announcements, selling tips and quotas, buyer personas, competitive profiles, and the like.
* * *
The upshot: embracing mobile enables B2B marketers to carry the conversation to clients wherever they are. Customers want control over real-time, location-enabled interactions—which further heightens expectations for relevant real-time offers. B2B marketers need to shift their analytics systems and their traditional campaigns—which run over fixed time periods—to more flexible systems that can operate in customer time. Mobile makes that happen.