The perception that business-to-business marketers need not make mobile a priority is changing, and we're starting to see adoption within B2B organizations expanding at an unprecedented rate.
According to Forbes, 82 percent of U.S. executives carry a smartphone, compared with only 28 percent penetration among U.S. consumers. This finding, coupled with the expectation that mobile Internet will overtake desktop Internet users by 2014, makes mobile marketing for B2B organizations hard to ignore.
To stay in front of key decision makers, B2B marketers need to keep up, or they risk irrelevance in a permanently shifting business landscape.
As mobile marketing is expected to continue its rapid ascent in 2013, here are four things you need to know when incorporating mobile into the marketing mix.
1. Move quickly — your customers are already there.
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 business-to-consumer 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 percent over a 12-month period — a growth trend that mirrors national predictions. 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. B2B and B2C customers expect the same mobile experience.
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 percent 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 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.
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.
Matt Daly is vice president of client solutions at JPL in Harrisburg.