Amy Africa, CEO of Eightbyeight, a digital marketing and mobile marketing consultancy, spoke to BtoB about using mobile effectively.
BtoB: The talk lately is all about apps and banners. What about text messaging?
Amy Africa: Text messages definitely have a future, but the challenge right now is that people don't know what's appropriate. You might not necessarily want to give somebody your phone number in exchange for a free coffee offer.
A killer solution for b-to-b is a terminated text message, where the user takes action and you reaffirm it, such as sending a picture of a product and how to order. Here, the message is received quickly. Other mobile things that work well for b-to-b are text and video chat, about, for example, a request for order information. Here, I'm seeing much more pointed questions and faster conversations.
BtoB: So b-to-b mobile is best suited for getting ordering information?
Africa: Not necessarily. With b-to-b, the majority of sales still come over the phone. Companies are not necessarily going to place an order on handheld devices. First, from a user perspective, it's more likely that you'll make an error on such a device because of the way you have to type. Also, you're more likely to be interrupted on a phone than on a computer.
But the coolest thing about mobile, especially for b-to-b, is that the user is coming in via a phone number. When you just come to my website, I have an idea of who you are via your IP address. But if you come in via a phone number, I can pinpoint all sorts of things—like what you've ordered in the past—and I can have that information in a much faster way. It's so much stronger and interesting from a marketing perspective.
BtoB: How should marketers differentiate among various mobile devices?
Africa: Phones and tablets need to be in separate marketing buckets. One of the biggest problems, especially for b-to-b companies, is that people are dumping tablet marketing into a general mobile marketing mix, and it's not that. We know that at least 45% of mobile users are checking emails on their smartphones. That's one bucket. Another I've seen successfully used by b-to-b companies is by procurement agents, using tablets in a warehouse setting. That's a completely separate bucket.