Whether buying for a company or buying for themselves, most customers reach for the same thing before they make their purchase: their mobile device.
Just as it has in the B2C world, mobile marketing should top the list of B2B marketing trends this year, given shifts in mobile usage.
Research from AdMedia Partners found that for 63 percent of marketers, mobile makes up a relatively small share of business—20 percent or less. But fast forward two years, and only about a quarter of marketers will be able to say mobile is less than 20 percent of their business.
Instead, the largest share of marketers (41 percent) say that in two years marketing will comprise 20 to 40 percent of their business. On the high end, expectations are even greater. Only 3 percent of marketers claim their business is currently over 60 percent mobile. However, that will change to 15 percent of marketers in two years, according to the report.
Simply put, more people are reaching for their smartphones when faced with purchasing decisions, and B2B decision-makers are not immune. According to Google, 42 percent of B2B researchers use mobile during the B2B purchasing process.
Mobile use throughout the purchasing path is intensifying among those who favor mobile, too. Mobile use has ballooned 91 percent since 2012 among mobile-using B2B researchers. That correlates with a tripling of growth in B2B mobile queries, Google reports.
Millennials, who make up a surprising amount of B2B researchers, are very likely driving the mobile train. Younger, 18- to 34-year-olds account for about half of all B2B researchers, Google found. In other words, the people B2B marketers are trying to influence are often mobile-savvy, digital natives primed to receive digital marketing messages on devices, even during off-work hours.
“If you’re not marketing to this group, you need to reevaluate your strategy, taking into account Millennials’ familiarity with digital and how this influences the kind of content and media channels they are using,” according to Google.
Like B2C customers, B2B customers are using mobile to discover and explore content whenever or wherever whim or necessity strike. But unlike most B2C purchases, B2B purchases are relatively more complicated and take more time to come to fruition. Personal relationships often drive sales. Given how important relationships are to B2B interactions, mobile offers a lot of potential. B2B marketers can engage their partners when and where they want to engage, even with personalized content.
By making a few digital marketing tweaks, B2B marketers can begin to engage mobile-using buyers:
At a minimum, B2B brands need to use website design that looks nice on mobile. Responsive design allows content to dynamically change, depending on the visitor’s screen size. Cleaner, less cluttered design earns further mobile kudos because it loads quicker—even when cell coverage is finicky. Mobile-friendly design and load time can influence Google search rankings, so the more a website can cater to all device users, the better.
Email, too, needs a mobile-friendly overhaul. Responsive design can again help emails display better on smartphones and tablets. Marketers should also think about how email content can be optimized for the small screen. Will shorter subject lines display better on a smartphone? Probably so. How will company e-newsletters appear on an iPhone? Is content too long, considering how people are often checking email on the go? Do links point to mobile-optimized landing pages? Test different approaches, and refine your content approach based on what you learn.
Research shows video is one of the most effective digital marketing tools, including for B2B marketers. According to Google, 70 percent of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos throughout the purchase path. Half of researchers say they watch 30 minutes or more of B2B content. But if video content doesn’t work or display nicely on mobile, that’s a problem. Marketers should consider how to deliver video content on mobile—including via social media channels—for best results. Shorter, pithier videos work great on mobile, but don’t discount longer-form pieces as well. Studies show users have a surprising appetite for longer videos, even on mobile devices.
B2C companies are no strangers to mobile apps, but do apps a place in the B2B world? If the app solves a problem or smooths a process, then yes. B2B marketers can think creatively about how an app can help solve problems for customers—like smoothing communication, orders and purchases, security alerts, or even networking. Apps that can simplify a process can also deliver content and other loyalty-nurturing features (but it depends on the situation). For another angle, consider creating an app to complement a trade show, event, or conference. A mobile app can help attendees get around with ease, while also providing opportunities for engagement.
For more insight on making digital marketing more effective, check out Skyword’s webinar on generating leads through B2B content marketing.