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When B2B Goes Mobile

by Milica K.

The other day I found myself saying, “This is it. 2012 is going to be the year of mobile.” The difference is that for the first time in five years, I actually believe it. This year the most effective and exciting mobile executions will come from unlikely players in the B2B space. If anything supports this claim, it is the growing audience adoption, changing landscape, and valuable new storytelling potential. 

A closer look at user behavior and usage statistics for mobile help demonstrate that there is an adult audience with an appetite for information and utility on the go:

  • App downloads among adult cell phone owners have nearly doubled in the last two years.
  • Out of 800 million active users, more than 350 million currently access Facebook through their mobile devices. 
  • Mobile users on Twitter have increased by 182 percent over the past year.
  • YouTube Mobile gets more than 100 million views per day.

Remember the days when everyone was gun-shy about the leap into social media? Now everyone’s doing it.

With the right planning—such as establishing social media guidelines, forming moderation queues, and developing risk communication plans—marketers and agency partners were able to cautiously forge ahead. We often liken that first social media leap to dating—there may not be a gold standard, but once you have that first date, you quickly understand what is working and what is not. As the area in which to play continues to grow, it’s just a matter of time before mobile case studies spring up. Someone just has to take the first step. 

Now, what type of content is worthy of a mobile application? B2B marketers have great content to share with the world—everything from executive thought leadership pieces, glimpses into the day-to-day of subject matter experts, customer testimonials, event footage, employee voices, and even charity endeavors. It’s the stuff Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch are made up of—the very stuff that speaks to niche audiences. And there is value in packaging B2B products and services so that it provides utility to the mobile end user. When B2B marketers share this type of information, they have the power to humanize the company and to engage nontraditional audiences.    

Here are four mobile strategies that help to create new business opportunities and to support existing clients:

  1. Provide internal utility. For employees and the sales force, create a mobile tool that will aid in showcasing products, and sharing case studies, while also surfacing real-time data. 
  2. Insist on client utility. Particularly for existing clients, this type of strategy can reinforce the brand value. In the banking industry, players like Bank of America and Chase do this well with mobile banking applications.  
  3. Maximize the event experience. Make check-in efficient with QR code confirmations, push notifications for real-time updates, and put the mobile device to work for networking purposes. Mobile can also replace printed collateral and makes it easy to follow up with attendees who have opted in to receive communications.  
  4. Show your playful side. Games lead in popularity of applications downloaded; they are also the type of application that people are most willing to pay for. A game can increase brand affinity while providing entertainment value. 

Mobile success is measured by app downloads, as well as usage metrics, such as active app users, frequency of their visits, and duration of visit. Here are a few early indicators of best practices that will help demystify mobile application development:

First, get the specifications right. The smartphone and tablet are not as big as a desktop screen, so plan to present content in a digestible way.

Do not overlook the innate functionality of the camera, email, and social sharing. 

Next, know what makes your audience tick. Think about the ways in which you can make life easier through mobile.

Finally, walk before you run. Develop an app for one mobile platform, such as iOS. Then expand development for the other mobile platforms. If you’re starting with a game, consider starting with the Android platform, which is popular among gamers. (And make sure you have a version of your website that is optimized for mobile.) 

Just remember to stay relevant and true to your brand’s value proposition, and you will never go wrong. 

See you in the app store! 

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