Mobile and social marketing: The dynamic duo

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Christina “CK” Kerley is a writer, speaker and adjunct college professor at Rutgers University who specializes in guiding b-to-b companies on using emerging media for marketing purposes. In her B2B Mobile-Marketing Guide, she makes a case for aggressively pursuing mobile platforms as a way to reach business customers. In this interview with BtoB columnist Paul Gillin, she summarizes several recommendations.

Social Media Marketer: Mobile marketing has generally been considered the domain of the b-to-c sector, which relies upon discounts, free trials and events to draw customers. Why should b-to-b marketers pay attention?

Christina Kerley: There are 5 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, 72% of the U.S. workforce uses mobile devices and more than 70% of under-40 executives consider their mobile devices to be their primary communications tools. Also, when was the last time you saw a business professional without a mobile device or attended a meeting in which people weren't constantly checking them? Mobile devices are actually the media most used by business executives.

Social Media Marketer: Are there any examples of good b-to-b mobile marketing initiatives, combined with social marketing, that stand out in your mind?

Kerley: Here are three. USA Today has partnered with location-based check-in service Gowalla to deliver its region-specific travel content to business travelers at precisely the time they need it, such as when they arrive at an airport. In addition, interactive health education company ClearPoint broke through the noise at a busy industry conference by delivering a quiz on iPads about healthcare reform. It created an interactive learning experience using a platform that a lot of attendees wanted to try out and also created a discussion platform for their salespeople.

Finally, office space rental company Regus created an app that leverages augmented reality to enable business travelers to quickly find and reserve office space wherever they are in the world. Regus got nearly 20,000 downloads in six months and more than 65% of those people used the app.

Social Media Marketer: How much should marketers budget for creating an engaging mobile app?

Kerley: That's a function of each app's features and functions, but let me stress this: While not every b-to-b company will need a mobile app, every single one will need a mobile website. Mobile devices are poised to become the “first-screen” Internet device within a couple of years. Business audiences are never without their smartphones, so not having a mobile-friendly site in 2011 is the equivalent of not having a website 10 years ago.

Social Media Marketer: How do the metrics for evaluating the success of mobile initiatives differ from conventional Web/email metrics?

Kerley: Such metrics as traffic, subscribers, downloads, engagement levels and conversion rates are important but, with mobile campaign, you can potentially gather location information as well as incremental data, since mobile is more interactive.

Where the rubber meets the road is in delivering the holy grail of one-to-one marketing. After all, what more personal media do business audiences have than their mobile devices? Further, all activity on our mobile devices is viewed as a priority. For example, SMS alerts (“texts”) are read 90% of the time and typically within three minutes of delivery. Can we say the same for any other kind of marketing?

Paul Gillin is an Internet marketing consultant and author of three books ont social media. He also writes the New Channels column in BtoB.

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