There’s no limit to how we use smartphones. We pick up our mobile devices to read restaurant reviews, check movie times, connect with friends and family on social media, watch videos, find directions and shop for everything from groceries to cars. To take advantage of this trend, businesses have spent a lot of money optimizing their websites for mobile consumers, working to give smartphone and tablet users the same experience as computer users.
But despite the increasing trends toward mobile (in 2015, Google announced that mobile searches eclipsed desktop searches for the first time) the B2B community has not kept pace with B2C marketers in mobile marketing strategies. B2B websites still tend to focus on educating and informing potential clients (and not those on three-inch mobile screens) rather than driving users toward a conversion. Of course, there are some good reasons for this:
- Relationships between B2B sellers and buyers usually develop over longer periods of time
- B2B purchasing decisions can take longer, and there can be multiple decision-makers in a company
- B2B transactions may be linked to competitive bid processes
- B2B customers often need different or additional kinds of information from vendors when making decisions (how a product is packaged, for instance, or a company’s frequency of technical updates)
Mobile Gives B2B Marketers an Edge
Many B2B companies simply haven’t seen a competitive advantage to mobile optimization; their websites still tend to present information in traditional ways, relying on salespeople to make calls, send email and complete actual sales. But that’s changing, especially as Google continues to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than desktop-only sites.
“In the B2B marketplace, mobile is moving fast,” writes the multi-industry consulting group BCG. “Despite the complexity of B2B purchasing, more and more buyers are using smartphones, and mobile’s influence is reshaping the B2B purchase pathway. This is creating substantial opportunities for marketers who get it right.” The company’s research indicates that B2B companies that take advantage of mobile marketing are reducing purchasing time and increasing client loyalty.
Mobile-Friendly Means Millennial-Friendly
Millennials are the driving force behind the mobile revolution. The demographic group that has transformed so many aspects of current culture with its social-media habits and its demands of convenience and speed are having an effect on the B2B sales funnel as well.
Today, almost half of all B2B researchers are millennials, according to Think with Google. The company analyzed more than a year’s worth of click-stream data and surveyed 3,000 B2B researchers. Researchers found people between the ages of 18 and 34 in the B2B research population had increased from 27 percent to 46 percent over two years. This is the demographic group that has never known life without the internet and uses all aspects of it in their lives.
“Focusing on mobile allows digital marketers in the B2B space to open up their toolkits and use everything available to them to get their message to their desired audience,” says Commexis, a New Jersey advertising agency that uses branding and metrics to transform the sales funnel. “A desktop-centric campaign leaves behind things like the mobile web, re-targeting, social media, push notifications, apps and in-app messaging … Your marketing needs to be tailored for each device.”
B2B Mobile Marketing Tips
So where do you start if you’re a B2B marketer who is behind on your mobile presence? Here are a few action items recommended by the inbound-marketing software company Hubspot:
- Optimize your web site for mobile. This means that content translates well to the smaller screen of a smartphone, action buttons work with touch screens, and users only have to scroll up and down, not left and right. It’s a combination of design, functionality and editing, and it’s the most important thing you can do if you want to improve the experience for mobile users.
- Add social media sharing buttons. When people find something worthwhile on your site, you want them to be able to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+ and other social media platforms. Sharing buttons allow your audience to quickly share your great original content.
- Streamline your landing-page forms. Don’t require customers to fill out long, multiple-field forms; that’s difficult to do on mobile devices. Eliminate any fields you can and add a “click to call” button, which streamlines a user’s path to connecting with you.
Marketing to the changing B2B audience “means stepping up the intensity in your search, mobile, and video efforts,” writes Think with Google. “Delivering content-rich mobile and video experiences is now critical to successfully reaching your B2B customers and moving them through the path to purchase.”