B2B + mobile: an unhappy marriage?

Mobile is still an under-developed channel for B2B marketers – it feels like these two are completely divorced. Yet, last year the number of mobile devices in the world overtook people (GSMA Intelligence), so if you’re not on board yet with mobile marketing it’s time to begin – even for those in B2B.

Executives are using mobile devices to research, communicate, and browse the web—as a brand, you need to meet them where they are.

Glenn Taylor, Demand Gen Report

In 2005, Tomi Ahonen first floated the idea of mobile being the seventh mass media channel, at that time print, recordings, cinema, radio, television and internet preceded it, in that order. This gave way to some interesting parallels in how we transition from one media to another. When a new medium is born that we don’t know how to use, we try to fit it into a context we already know. When TV was first introduced it was seen as ‘radio with moving pictures’, a pretty limiting concept in hindsight.

In the mobile era there was a saying coined by Nokia ‘Don’t shrink, rethink’ – essentially mobile design shouldn’t just rehash desktop design principles. Instead, it’s better to streamline the experience for mobile, and not compromise on depth or quality.

Technology is continually changing, which in turn means there are no hard and fast rules for mobile, so let’s approach this with a few fundamentals and then apply them to the mobile environment.

The fundamentals

9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action. Over half lead to purchase.

Search Engine Land

Let’s keep this simple:

  1. Be goal focused
  2. Make a content plan
  3. Learn, adjust, repeat

Do your research

Start following other companies to see how they use mobile as part of their marketing (within your sector, but also beyond, as B2B is not always at the forefront of change). What works? What holds your interest? How engaged are viewers? Do they allow engagement mechanisms, if so, how? What are their pain points? How can you reach them? What imagery is working well?

Also understand what doesn’t work. Are there popups on sites that prevent viewing on mobile? Do slow load times, poor legibility, clarity, navigation or search issues hamper your experience? Next refine this research down to a view of your market with the aid of analytics. Consider:

  • What kind of content your customers are viewing via mobile, and how successfully does it display?
  • Where are they hanging out socially online and how does the material within that space view on mobile? Begin to think about how you can optimise your material for these primary platforms. Don’t be too ambitious initially, start slowly, pick a couple of areas to focus on and think quality over quantity.

Mobile marketing checklist

The aim is to generate excellent content, so don’t damage it with usability issues, poor visuals that just don’t translate on mobile, or lazy messaging. When designing for mobile, think about:

  • Website Responsiveness: First things first – is your website responsive? Since April this year Google will rank your site lower in searches if it’s not responsive. So it’s time to budget for this if you haven’t already made the move over. Media queries and viewport are both useful for setting viewing parameters on mobile.
  • Emails: Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly. If you’re not a hotshot developer consider using pre-made templates where all the responsive working out is done for you.
  • Navigation: Ensure the design demands as few taps or clicks as possible. This is general advice for any digital platform but especially so for mobile where attention spans are shorter, real-estate is smaller and distraction rates are higher. Simplify wherever possible.
  • Short-form vs long-form: Create in-depth material but allow for shorter attention spans on mobile. This means creating content in short-form as well as long form. Do this for both copywriting and graphic content for mobile, such as short infographics, slices or edits of long-form material. Content for mobile should be digestible and shareable by design.
  • Findability: Don’t neglect SEO, add metadata and use keywords so your material can be found on mobile. When generating URLs keep them short so it’s easy to type into a handset. (We love bit.ly)
  • Linear format for small screen reading: Consider whether your traditional formats are appropriate – long detailed videos or heavy PDFs won’t be very effective. Infographics with their linear format may well offer a better option than traditional A4 size PDFs as they scroll well.
  • Glanceability: There are books dedicated to this, but to summarise think about how scannable a design or piece of content is and how quickly and easily does the visual design or copy convey information. Information architecture, or in layman’s terms, logical structures, will pay dividends, allowing users to find the information they need and complete tasks.
  • Context considerations: Mobile can be used anywhere, so it’s worth accounting for some of the context issues: distractions, multitasking, motion, low lighting or poor connectivity.
  • Load times: It’s always a balance between speed and quality, and the considerations become more complex as higher resolution screens infiltrate the market, so keep an eye on file sizes to avoid heavy load times.
  • Forms: If you have newsletter sign ups or gated content that requires form filling, ensure you limit input to essential fields – trim the fat.
  • Summarise: Lead with informative and engaging titles that lead the reader in, and summarise content front-end so readers can get the gist of the article before taking any actions.
  • Links: Try to avoid posting a URL cold and expect a mobile user to click through, this certainly doesn’t work for me. The messaging in your post should highlight what the main content will cover in more detail, so I know what I’m going to get when I click through.
  • One size does not fit all: Adapt your visual content (and written content) to fit each interface. Each social media channel has an optimum image size. Most support hashtags, though LinkedIn doesn’t. Invest a bit of time in understanding the key differences between the channels and platforms you use.
  • Engagement: We operate within a crowded 24/7 multi-screen digital environment, so you have split seconds to gain attention. The use of imagery and video is proven to increase engagement rates, so don’t forget to allow time and budget for this.
  • Humanise: Humanise your content. Case studies are a great way to do this, but take them out of their traditional literature format by using bite-sized human interest stories – and don’t forget to add engaging imagery.
  • Landing pages: If you’re promoting offers through mobile channels, think about landing pages and make sure they’re optimised for mobile viewing.
  • Make it easy: Integrate social networking features into your site’s mobile design and above all make it easy for users to connect with their social networks and share your content.

Keep learning

We don’t suggest you look at mobile as a completely separate entity. There needs to be an overall visual consistency across your material – mobile, web, print, or otherwise, so as people cross from one media to another each touchpoint makes sense.

More than 85% of buyers require their preferred content to be optimised for mobile devices, up from 69% in the previous year’s survey.

Technology is changing rapidly so there is a need to continually adjust to meet, maintain, or exceed current expectations. Once you’ve got your head around the fundamentals then have some fun, see what works and run some experiments, just keep learning and applying.

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