B2B customers are just as if not more mobile-oriented at work as they are as consumers.
The confluence of changes in the workforce, workplace, and work styles make it essential that B2B marketers include mobile as part of their marketing mix.
“Everything is converging,” says Seth Pickett, senior director of global mobility and the workplace practice for HP Enterprise Services. “People are more familiar with mobile technology. Today the workplace can be anywhere: the house, the car, the airport. Networks can support a lot of power users. The phones themselves have more [computing] power than it took to reach the moon in 1969.”
As a result, business decision makers are as or more reachable via mobile than through other channels. For example, NASCAR uses analytics from HP Enterprise Services to push out real-time information during races to sponsors via mobile regarding fan engagement on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media feeds.
“As a marketer, if you're not using these opportunities, you're at a real disadvantage,” says Jim Cooper, chief technologist, mobility and the workplace, for HP Enterprise Services.
To maximize B2B mobile marketing, experts offer the following advice:
Align mobile strategy, budget with customer preferences
According to a study from Yesmail, mobile accounted for neary two thirds (64.5%) of opened emails in the second quarter of 2014, nearly double the percentage opened on a desktop.
Another advantage of aligning the budget with the business customers' use of mobile is that mobile ads are less expensive, providing the marketer with more reach for the same budget, while enjoying better click-through rates and improved engagement over desktop advertising.
Rethink your content strategy
But even before deciding on mobile ad spending, the strategy must be defined.
“Start planning out a mobile marketing approach,” says Claire Rhoads, revenue marketing coach for The Pedowitz Group. “You need to plan out the content. You need to provide it in bite-size chunks. Don't provide a 10-page whitepaper, instead, provide 10, one-page tip sheets.”
Testing can help determine what does and doesn't work in terms of mobile marketing messaging. By starting small, marketers won't spend too much or go too far with a mobile strategy that doesn't work. Additionally, starting small helps ensure that a company can meet the demand if the mobile marketing effort produces better than expected results.
“You can get so much information back that you can't analyze it,” HP Enterprise Services' Pickett says. “You have to be surgical with your capabilities. You have to be targeted with who you're trying to influence.”
Harness industry experts
Business decision makers receive countless emails every day, so it's essential that mobile marketing messages stand out. One way to do that is to use content created by or with known experts in fields such as technology, business, and financial services.
“You're more likely to read an email that comes from a financial analyst firm than from someone you don't know,” Pickett says, pointing to the increased amount of expert content used by LinkedIn and other companies that focus on the B2B market.
Use simple graphics
Graphics catch the reader's attention more quickly than text. A good visual mobile presentation will typically cost more to develop and use than a text-based message, but the click-through rates will be much higher. However, video and audio can be too bandwidth intensive to be worthwhile for mobile marketing, according to Kirill Storch, president of Electric Web.
“The message has to be visually stunning; it's better to show it rather than to say it,” Storch says. “It's not sufficient just to use a mobile template.” Though this approach is more costly than using a template, Storch likens it to a salesperson wearing a high-quality suit rather than one from a discount store when making a business presentation. He adds that marketers can help ensure that graphics appear quickly by dynamically loading them.
Have customer-facing staff and partners send out relevant mobile content to their own followers on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms. This extends the reach of mobile marketing efforts.
“If coworkers and partners reach out to their social media circles, everybody wins; there's clear value on both sides of the equation,” says Mick Twomey, cofounder of Pointburst. He adds that technology companies and companies with distribution networks are successfully building support via engaging their coworkers and partners in this fashion.
Optimize the user experience
Use tools like responsive design so the mobile messages and any graphics fit correctly regardless of the size of the mobile device. This is just as important when designing a mobile-friendly website.
“People don't want to have to zoom in several times; you have to make sure that the content is easily consumed. You have to captivate business customers and engage them, or you're going to lose out to competitors who do,” Pedowitz Group's Rhoads says. “Marketers need to think of mobile not just as a platform, but as a whole approach for content, channels, tools, and spend. Mobile behavior affects everything.”