Although the excitement for consumer smartphones and tablet mobile applications garners most of the attention in the digital world today, the B2B world has its own mobile innovations to tout. According to Forrester Research, “Tomorrow’s B2B commerce winners will be those B2B manufacturers and distributors that use B2C-like customer experiences to deliver fast and efficient B2B purchases across a range of direct and indirect channels.”
Unlike B2C marketers who have the ability to dream-up novel, sometimes off-the-wall ideas to engage consumers, business audiences are driven by efficiency and productivity, rather than entertainment. Where consumers have time to spare, professionals never have enough of it. Above all else, the B2B audience is interested in mobile solutions that make their work activities better, faster, and easier.
The commitment to mobile for B2B brands varies, but in general, they realize how mobile devices and network technology can unlock significant value for their business. There are plenty of case studies to support the idea that mobile is changing how B2B marketers communicate with customers, how they enable their employees to more productively manage their workloads, and how they maximize the value of and support for the products and services they provide.
For those organizations still observing from the sideline, leveraging mobile to engage with your target audience(s) is no longer optional. Your customers aren’t “going mobile,” they are mobile.
5 key insights for launching B2B mobile
So where do you start? The good news is that getting into a mobile mindset is more easily attainable than you might think – especially if you take the time to knock out the basics. Here are five things to consider:
- Stop delaying: The pace of change in mobile is extremely rapid. B2B enterprises that fall behind will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared to those quicker to innovate and iterate. But you have to start somewhere. At the very least, most businesses can get started by optimizing existing website content for the mobile environment.
- Don’t forget about the “I” in ROI: Executing effectively in B2B mobile may require significant investment. The incremental value added via mobile – cost savings, revenue, customer loyalty, and other value opportunities – should be appropriately considered in budget decisions.
- Make investments supported by insight: Some organizations fall into the trap of going after the “shiny” new digital trend. This is a particularly acute problem in mobile. Be smarter. Clearly define your goals, articulate a well-thought-out hypothesis, and then test, test, test by engaging your mobile solutions’ intended audience before going to market.
- Build experiences that that actually solve problems: Think about a problem that exists in your industry or your organization, and then work to understand how mobile can provide a solution. And then make sure you would personally want to use it; if you do, chances are good that others will, too. Always be cognizant of the human element (unless you’re building something for robots).
- Think inside the box before you think outside of it: With GPS, cameras, radios (Bluetooth, WiFi, cellular, NFC), motion sensors, and other unique capabilities, there is a lot of readily available technology that can contribute to highly complex applications. But is that your goal? Carefully consider use cases. Organizations have to keep the unique needs of the mobile user at the forefront of their thinking. The context in which your application will be used matters deeply.
According to Mobile Marketer’s “Mobile Outlook 2014” publication, B2B marketers will have to sell mobile as more than a technology to secure budget allocation in 2014. Instead, B2B marketers should approach mobile strategically and show how its benefits can be integrated throughout an organization. This means an investment in mobile infrastructure – people, process and technology – and a commitment to providing the training and education that will enable the whole entity to take advantage of all that mobile has to offer.