Dennis Reilly, senior VP-global practice lead at Digitas Business, New York, heads up the agency's global b-to-b practice for clients that include Aflac Inc., American Express Co. and Emerson Electric Co.
In the following interview with BtoB, he discusses the types of mobile apps clients are interested in and the keys to success in mobile marketing.
BtoB: Where are your b-to-b clients with mobile marketing?
They're all in mobile. Three years ago, it seemed like a really sexy thing that would be nice to have. Now, they are all asking for it. Mobile is an imperative.
BtoB: What types of mobile marketing programs are b-to-b clients interested in?
For our b-to-b clients, the No. 1 way they're in it is building mobile apps for their sales teams. I call it the “mobile pocket army.” If I'm a salesperson and I have all the content I need from my organization on my tablet, I can take it anywhere—to the boardroom, to a restaurant or on the road. I feel like I have the army of the whole organization with me in my pocket.
BtoB: Can you share some examples of mobile apps you've built for clients?
For Aflac, we built a presentation builder for the sales team. This was our first foray into tablets, a couple of years ago. Now, we're doing it for everyone.
For an institutional bank—I can't release the name due to confidentiality—we built an interactive demo on a tablet for an institutional trading program, and salespeople could take it on the trading floor. It paid for itself in one month.
For Emerson, we built Emerson Gateway, a client-facing thought leadership platform. It launched about a year ago, and clients can download the app and get a thought leadership experience on their tablet. There are articles, infographics, videos and other thought leadership content around global trends. It's available on the iPhone and the iPad.
So these are three examples of different kinds of mobile experiences: Knowledge platforms, such as the presentation builder for Aflac; product demos, such as the one we built for the institutional bank; and knowledge centers, like Emerson Gateway.
BtoB: What are some keys to success in mobile marketing?
One important thing is that you need to build one experience across multiple screens, whether it's on the phone, tablet or PC. You want to build one experience using an integrated design process. For example, we just redesigned the Nielsen website, and it works across all screens, incorporating responsive design. It's better for the end user—they don't have different experiences on their smartphone, laptop and tablet. C-level executives are all using tablets. It's a screen you cannot ignore anymore.
Another key to success is, don't treat mobile like an experiment; it's an imperative. Don't stick your toe in; you have to go all the way in. Because budgets are what they are, you have to think big but start small.
You should be thinking about building a tool for all the products across all the divisions in all regions, but start with one product in one division in one region. Build it for that, and give it to 10 salespeople instead of 100 and get them screaming for more. One of my best successes in sales apps was the product demo we did for the institutional bank. We built it for just two or three salespeople. These three salespeople sold it to 10 big firms in one month. If it's the right three people, you don't need 100.
BtoB: How do business executives experience mobile in different ways?
The tablet is a very active tool when a salesperson is using it in a meeting with a prospect. You are leaning forward and poking at it together, looking at an infographic—it's a very active and a leaning-forward experience.
On the other hand, business executives are also using mobile as a lean-back experience. They may see some long-form content but they don't have time to look at it in their office. But they may download it, and, on the train ride home, they will lean back, put their headphones or iBuds on and absorb10 minutes of very immersive content.
The imperative is to create different kinds of content that work on a tablet.