19 May 2016

Why Your B2B Business Really Needs To Go Mobile

Ged Leigh
Written by Ged Leigh

Ged Leigh is Regional Director for The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. He has over 30 years’ experience working in Private Equity backed and family owned SME companies including technical textiles, construction, engineering, recycling, waste management and paper.

Mobile is the magic bullet of B2B marketing. Never before have marketers had a delivery mechanism so precise and so intimate. This isn’t the scattergun of a TV ad, or the impersonal blast of a billboard – this is a tailored strike delivered to a device that is always on, usually within arm’s reach and so often in the palm of a prospect’s hand.

The Marketing Centre’s analysis of our own email campaigns has shown that at least 47% of emails are opened on smartphones or tablets. Smartphone adoption is also no longer the preserve of Generation X and the Millennials, with over-50s being the biggest demographic for smartphone growth. The shift to mobile is already well underway in B2C marketing, with a significant milestone being reached in Q4 2015 – for the first time, more internet retail sales were conducted on smartphones and tablets than on desktops and laptops.

The world is going mobile. What does this mean for your B2B SME?

Long live the website

First things first: some have used the growth in mobile to herald the death of the traditional website, but reports of this death have been greatly exaggerated. If the use of websites on mobile has diminished, it is in part because many of them are not designed with mobile access in mind, in extreme cases rendering them unusable.

If this sounds like you then it’s time to give your website an overhaul, by ensuring it features a responsive design, or by building a mobile-specific version alongside the existing desktop one. This is especially important for any contact forms you may have on your website. Nothing will kill a potential first-contact quicker than an unusable contact form. Over two-thirds of B2B companies have mobile-friendly websites, so don’t get left behind.

Related to this is the issue of speed. By their very nature, smartphones and tablets may not always be connected to Wi-Fi, relying instead on a (sometimes patchy) data connection. Despite what the mobile networks may tell you, these connections are not always super fast, so your website needs to be nimble and efficient. If your web pages take more than six seconds to load, potential customers are likely to abandon their engagement and move on. There is plenty that can be done to improve the speed of your website, most of which is technical in nature, so make sure that your web developers or your web design agency are on the case. If you need persuading further, Google use page load speed and mobile accessibility when ranking their search results, so a slow site could also damage your visibility online.

Email on the move

It’s not just your website that needs to be responsive and efficient – your emails do too. Email remains most customers’ preferred means to communicate with businesses, so make sure your campaigns work well on popular mobile email clients like Google Mail and iOS Mail. If your newsletter email is not readable when it is picked up on a mobile device, the ‘moment’ will be lost; when the recipient returns to their desktop or laptop, your email is likely to be buried under other inbox noise.

Email offers a great way to get content under the nose of a mobile user without having to worry about bad signal and slow loading times, so consider including the bulk of your chosen content within your emails. You may even want to time the sending of emails to correspond with the commuting time of your target demographic – people will read anything to distract themselves from a tedious train journey, with 8am to 9am being the best time for both opens and click-throughs.

If your customers aren’t reading your newsletter on the train, they may well be checking their social media feeds. Social media is not all play and no work – research has shown that nearly half of B2B buyers are influenced by a presence on social media. With over 80% of users accessing Facebook on their smartphones or tablets, it’s another reason to make sure that your mobile experience is up to snuff if users are clicking through from your social media ads.

Concise content  

Websites, email and social media all ultimately rely on good quality content, but should the approach to content differ for mobile? In short, yes; but the rules are different. For mobile content, focus on publishing concise and punchy copy, with strong headlines and captivating openings. These are all good habits to get into, as in a world of information overload and dwindling attention spans, good practice for mobile content marketing is now good practice for all content marketing.

Appy days

Finally, what about an app? It’s the ultimate embrace of mobile for any business,  although the decision to invest in app development shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the B2B arena, an app can create new opportunities to reach out to (and increase your interaction with) your customers. You may not think that an app is for you, but something as simple as an app-based product catalogue or an aftercare portal could increase customer conversion and confidence dramatically. Apple and Google both offer tools for B2B marketers to help distribute apps to existing customers. Meanwhile, new mobile technologies like augmented reality and beacon technology can be used to help leads and prospects interact with you in the real world, including at sales events and trade shows.

So there we have it – mobile web, mobile email and mobile apps – the three components of the mobile marketing magic bullet, held together by the glue of great content. B2C has these aspects locked and loaded, but the same technologies also present huge opportunities for B2B. It’s time they became a key weapon in your marketing arsenal.

Want to know how your marketing efforts stack up before committing to mobile? Take our Marketing 360 Assessment.




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