Editor’s Note: Today’s offering is a guest post from my friend and author Eric Schwartzman. He is a long-time, well-respected public relations pro, entrepreneur and thinker and is the co-author of Social Marketing To The Business Customer with Paul Gillin.
Is mobile important to B2B social media marketers? Take this quick, down and dirty assessment to find out what opportunity, if any, the mobile web presents to your company.
You’ve heard that the marketing wars of tomorrow will be fought on the small screen. Smart phone usage and mobile search continue to grow, with analysts predicting nearly 3.5 billion mobile searches per month by next year.
And already, 80% of smart phone users research purchasing decisions within a 10 to 20 mile radius of their location, which certainly makes sense if you’re shopping for pizza or tires.
But what if you’re a B2B buyer of highly specialized products and services? What role does or will mobile play in B2B sales cycles?
As mobile web usage grows, here’s a litmus test B2B marketers can use to assess the importance of mobile:
1. Is Face-to-Face Important? – If the in-person pitch is an important component of your sales process, you can use geodata to get squeeze more value out of your travel budget. Check out Hoover’s Near Hear app for iPhone, which lets you search companies not just by annual revenues or type, but by proximity as well. Use that intelligence to schedule more new business meetings per square mile with qualified prospects when your sales reps hit a given market.
2. Is Your Product Heavy? – With the price of crude at more than $100 a barrel and shipping rates climbing, imagine the incentives B2Bs suppliers of heavy, raw materials like plastic resin or steel alloy, or even bulky materials like plastic containers or packaging supplies, could pass along to their customers if they knew where their closest ones were? Hoover’s announced plans to integrate Linkedin into their database in January, which means marketers will have the chance to open doors through proximity and relationships, rather than just cold calls.
3. Is Your Product an Impulse Purchase? – If you’re selling something that doesn’t require the sign-off of a committee, like office or lunch room supplies, then customers are searching for your products on the mobile web already. Optimize your website for local search by registering with Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo! Local, as well as paid services like Universal Business Listings and LocalEZE. And add a geotag to the landing pages you’d like to steer mobile browsers to.
4. Are You a Local Service? – Yelp connects people with local businesses via web and mobile search. Using their smart phone app, you can search for local couriers, notaries, printers, and shipping services by their distance to you, customer rating, price or hours of operation. For these companies, proximity and positive customer feedback are critical to the success of their mobile marketing efforts,. For service providers, mobile is local, and mobile is social. Service providers who take walk-in customers might also consider extending their hours of operation to get found beyond 9 to 5. You can register on Yelp yourself.
Today, B2B social media marketing isn’t typically thought of as a mobile endeavor. But that’s because it’s still new, and most B2B marketers are still overwhelmed by all the social media options out there. In my book Social Marketing to the Business Customer with Paul Gillin, we outline a step-by-step approach to finding and engaging business customers through social media. Our process starts with listening to discover where the opportunities are, so you can strike where the iron is hot.
Check your mobile web traffic in Google Analytics to see if they’re find you already, and if they’re sticking around. If you’ve upgraded your dashboard to the newest version, you’ll find your mobile stats under Visitors > Technology > Mobile.
According to Christopher S. Penn, here’s how to interpret the importance of your mobile site traffic:
- 1 percent: You need to start thinking about a mobile strategy.
- 10 percent: You need to be turning on your mobile strategy.
- 25 percent: If your mobile strategy isn’t in full swing, you are losing business to people who don’t want to navigate an unfriendly site on their mobile devices.
Mobile marketing strategy involves optimizing your website for mobile browsers and for mobile search. For companies that want to do it themselves, Rich Devine, a mobile web design and search optimization specialist suggests starting with a good WordPress theme like Thesis or Themedy.
Ann Marie van der Hurk (@amvandenhurk) who advises clients on mobile, uses the WPTouch plugin for her WordPress and recommends MoFuse, a CMS for mobile sites and Mippin for converting your website into a mobile app.
The stage of the B2B sales cycle where mobile becomes a factor depends largely on the cost of sale. The higher the price, the more considered the purchase and the greater the number of stakeholders involved. Generally, the more considered the purchase, the more important relationships are. In that case, mobile is a way to build awareness and get considered. But the actual sale will be driven by other factors.
But as organizations wake up to value of proximity, I expect to see mobile play an increasingly important role in the B2B marketing space.
About the Author
Eric Schwartzman (@ericschwartzman) provides social marketing research, social marketing services and social marketing training to businesses, government agencies and nonprofits. His book Social Marketing to the Business Customer with Paul Gillin is the first book devoted exclusively to B2B social media marketing.