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Mobile is the new desktop for marketers

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I remember working with Macromedia in the late ’90s on Web marketing. Everyone had drunk the Kool-Aid of 1-to-1 marketing and rich-media advertising. These were the new engagement methods for the Web, particularly using highly interactive Flash ads and Web content in the case of Macromedia.

Fast forward 10+ years and here is mobile. We all know how fast consumers are buying up smartphones and tablets like the iPad. Their eyeballs have already followed to these devices. For instance, U.S. consumers now spend more time on mobile apps than surfing Web sites, including Facebook(!), via PC or phone.

Mobile is also invading the enterprise: 90% of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying iPads or iPhones. By 2012, 80% of businesses will have workers using tablets.

The implication: Mobile is transforming the marketing mix, enabling us to engage potential customers in very unique ways.

Frankly, it’s not a moment too soon. Target audiences long ago grew jaded and weary of our bag of tricks for the Web. Here are five fresh tactics on mobile devices that are taking off today.

Display advertising. People are more engaged with their mobile devices than their desktop today. No wonder that “tap rates” today handily surpass Web click-through rates: 0.6% tap rates versus 0.08% for Web click-throughs. Today’s “tap rates” are as strong as Web click-throughs in 1999!

The rise of the mobisite.  Mobisites are Web sites optimized for the latest tablets and smartphones. When rebuilt to take advantage of these devices’ strengths (and minimize their weaknesses), engagement is strong. Sybase sees engagement of more than five minutes on mobisites.

The read on eBooks. The explosive growth in tablets is giving marketers a unique channel to distribute new content assets. Already-overloaded tradeshow attendees don’t need to walk away with another heavy book that they will open weeks later--and not read. Instead, they can now download ebooks or whitepapers on to their tablet or Kindle and read them on their flight home, when excitement and interest are still strong. Judging by downloads, marketing books that Sybase has published this year are now often more popular on iPad than in hardcover. iTunes makes distribution incredibly easy for b-to-b marketers.

Mobile at events.  B-to-b conference managers use mobile to deliver a more engaging event experience for attendees. At Sybase, we’ve done this in a trio of ways. First, our conference agenda is delivered as an app onto attendees’ phones. Each agenda is tailored to the individual attendee. Real-time changes to attendees’ schedules can be made and then pushed to their mobile devices. The second use is at events. Attendees can scan QR codes posted on large on-site displays to receive additional information on the products and services that interest them. Also, we use SMS (text messages) to distribute tickets to events and get the audience to vote on various content and topics. Finally, mobile has quickly become the leading way to drive social media participation. I’d bet that the majority of Twitter users at our conferences these days are using a smartphone or tablet, not a laptop.

Mobile for product demos.  We use tablets and smartphones to show an increasing number of our product demos. The time it takes to whip out and fire up a PC is not only unnecessarily lengthy, but it can interrupt the natural flow of a conversation or meeting. And while laptop screens erect a barrier between participants, tablets encourage intimacy and sharing. 

As marketers, we were overjoyed with the onset of the Web and our ability to engage an audience in an entirely new way. Mobile is giving us this opportunity again.

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