Mobile marketing, which for years has been in the early adoption stages for b-to-b marketers, is finally moving to the forefront.
“We are starting to think mobile first, not last,” said Kathy Button Bell, CMO of Emerson Electric Co., which has rolled out dozens of mobile apps and mobile Web experiences for its various businesses, from Emerson Climate Technologies to Emerson Industrial Automation.
Boosted by the proliferation of smartphones and tablet computers, U.S. mobile ad spending will reach $7.3 billion this year, up 77.3% over last year, according to an April forecast by eMarketer. That figure includes ad dollars spent on display, search and message-based formats delivered on all mobile devices, including tablets.
By 2017, U.S. mobile ad spending will surpass $27.0 billion, eMarketer projected, comprising almost half of all online ad spending.
Total marketing expenditures on mobile—including media buys, CRM, internal support and measurement services—reached $10.6 billion last year and are expected to top $30.0 billion by 2015, according to a report issued earlier this month by the Mobile Marketing Association.
“Only a few years ago, mobile's impact was measured by its function as a basic phone, and now it is impossible to envision a world without smartphones and tablets,” said Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association. “No other media will evolve at this pace, with unforeseen opportunities to reimagine the user experience.”
For b-to-b marketers, which have lagged their b-to-c counterparts in mobile, the broad adoption of tablets and smartphones by business users and the high consumption of content on mobile devices have spurred the development of more mobile apps and mobile Web experiences.
A study released this month by The Financial Times and Doremus, New York, found that 49.0% of global business executives say tablets are replacing their laptop computers. The study, based on an online survey of more than 400 global business executives, found 69.0% of business executives do not turn off their smartphones at night or on weekends.
A separate report, by Constant Contact, found 66.0% of small-business owners now use mobile devices for business purposes.
“We know people are using numerous mobile devices to access content, so we are using more analytics to determine if we need to make certain content mobile-friendly,” said Lisa Collins, interactive marketing manager at building products company USG Corp.
USG, which introduced its first mobile app in 2011, has done much research into its target audiences of architects, building contractors, installers and professional remodelers, finding out how they use mobile and prefer to receive content and special offers.
“Contractors are on the job site, looking for installation videos and guides,” Collins said. “Architects are more tech-savvy; they all have tablets. They could be accessing anywhere. Finishers and installers are accessing information on site—and we know they are willing to text—so we can do some additional texting efforts.”
This research has guided USG's efforts with regard to specific mobile campaigns. For example, it is now in the midst of a texting campaign for a joint compound product aimed at finishers. Inside the lid of the product is a promotion for a free set of barbecue tools if users text their contact information in to USG.
“Not only do they text in, but they respond to an opt-in offer and give us their email addresses,” Collins said. “It is unbelievable how successful it's been. We have captured more than 700 email addresses. This is a very small and segmented audience [overall], so that is a pretty big number and we're growing our email database.”
Other b-to-b marketers are using mobile as a lead-gen tool to reach target audiences.
“Our goal is to draw in new customers at the top of the funnel, using thought leadership content across digital, social and mobile,” said Rishi Dave, executive director-business digital marketing at Dell Inc.
In December, Dell debuted Tech Page One, a streaming platform that delivers customized content to technology decision-makers on mobile devices based on their preferences.
“On their mobile phones, users can designate which type of content they want in technology, business or lifestyle categories, or specific content areas such as cloud or security,” Dave said. “Tech Page One plays at the top of funnel; we use it to attract new people to Dell and get them to engage with the experience,” Dave said.
Many marketers are integrating mobile and social to develop brand advocates among users.
“About 70% of our customers are on mobile devices or smartphones,” said Adrian Parker, head of social, mobile and emerging media at Intuit Inc., which sells financial and business software.
“The lion's share of social is being done on mobile, so we bundled mobile and social together to develop a mobile training experience for our software,” he said, referring to Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software for small businesses. “Once users are certified on QuickBooks, they can share it out on social. The mobile training experience, which can be done on an iPad or any mobile-enabled device, immerses users in our brand; and they are also learning about our products.”
Parker said the mobile experience builds brand advocates for Intuit.
“Customers who take our training are four and half times more likely to be confident in our product,” Parker said. “We found that if we could increase confidence in our product, customers are more likely to use it. Iit doubled the amount of recommendations.”