Mobile devices with limited screen sizes, such as tablets and smartphones, have gradually increased in popularity. Today, they comprise a significant proportion of Internet viewing statistics, with nearly one third of UK page views coming from a smartphone or tablet.
More proof of the rise of the mobile device comes when we look at time spent on desktops and laptops versus mobiles; today it's an average of 2.1 hours a day spent on desktops and laptops, versus 3.1 hours spent on mobiles (excluding phone calls).
All this has impacted B2B too – according to MediaPost, 42 per cent of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process and mobile use for B2B purchase research has grown 91 per cent in the past two years. 49 per cent of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so while at work. They're comparing prices, reading about products, comparing feature sets and contacting retailers. They're purchasing, too; purchase rates on mobile are up 22 per cent in the past two years.
So anyone in B2B marketing needs to factor in the mobile audience.
As well as viewing websites and blogs, more and more people are opening emails on mobile devices. In the second quarter of 2015, nearly 68 per cent of emails were opened on a mobile device, with 52 per cent of those being opened on smartphones. The desktop saw just over 32 per cent of email opens.
Of course, your audience may differ – but even so, it's a fair bet that a good proportion of your target audience is viewing your marketing output on a mobile device, and that proportion will be increasing. If you don't take this into consideration you will alienate a good chunk of your potential clients.
We know that 45 per cent of consumers have unsubscribed from a brand's promotional emails because their emails or website didn't display or work well on their smartphone, and 34 per cent of consumers have marked a brand's promotional emails as spam because they didn't display well on their smartphone (Litmus). The B2B sector is unlikely to be that much different.
So how do we implement effective B2B mobile marketing? Here are three essential areas to focus on.
1) Make your content website/email responsive
Given that there is a significant difference between mobile devices and desktop PCs, special considerations need to be made for usability on mobile. The most fundamental differences being size and orientation of the screen – mobile devices have considerably smaller, portrait screens.
A responsive website is essential
This major difference in screen size immediately creates problems if your site's layout is not responsive. Almost all websites are designed to work well on a desktop computer but there are still many that display terribly on a mobile device. They may use fixed width elements, which only partially display, or use technologies such as Flash that are unsupported on many mobiles.
A truly responsive website will display its content according to the format of the screen used to view it – whether that be large or small, landscape or portrait, standard or widescreen.
A nice way to picture this is to imagine that your content is like water. It flows into the screen and fills it according to its shape.
Effect on SEO
Google checks for layout responsiveness in a website – so a non-responsive site will see your SEO take a hit. And Google looks for other mobile-friendly factors too: check that your site doesn't require Adobe Flash Player to play videos, for example, as Google prefers the more up-to-date iframe embed method that's the default on most video hosting sites today.
One other, perhaps less obvious, thing that Google looks for, is that your links are far enough apart so that the correct link can be easily tapped with a chubby finger on a small screen.
Forms and landing pages
Any form that needs completing, or any other interactive element, should be tested for mobile devices. It's no good creating a fantastically responsive website, if the call to action form is unusable on mobile. Given that you can usually tell what device a user is viewing your website on, you may even want to consider mobile optimised landing pages to give you the best possible shot at completion/conversion.
Emails must work on mobiles
As so many emails are now being opened on mobile devices, your email marketing should also be responsive and work well on small, portrait screens.
Mobiles and tablets dominate usage outside of working hours, while PCs are mainly used during working hours. So if you were scheduling delivery of an email campaign for the evening, or over the weekend, it would have to be mobile-friendly.
As well as optimising the layout of emails, the writing should be optimised for mobile too, which leads us on to the next essential area to look at…
2) It’s not just about the layout – it's about the writing too
Traditionally, websites are designed according to principles derived from long-standing eye-tracking research, which shows that viewers of a web page look at the top left corner the most, and then pick up on major headings in the text – often leading to an F-shaped viewing pattern.
However, when you repeat the research for mobile viewers, you get a different result. On a smaller screen the eye can't sweep horizontally and vertically. Users give 68 per cent of their time/attention to the centre and top half, and a full 86 per cent to the upper two-thirds. Anything below this point on the screen is less important. This implies a different approach to the layout of the page.
Keep your headline short
The biggest implication is that headlines and subheads should be kept short, otherwise they may take up too much room on the page, or disappear below the fold. (The fold in web design is the position on a web page where the majority of browsers viewing the page will begin to scroll. Elements that are positioned "below the fold" are not seen when the page first loads.)
Write them short and strong, and don't use too large a typeface.
This next tip, while crucial for mobile, will improve your writing generally and should always be a consideration. As screen size is at a premium on mobile, you want to get across as much information as possible, in as small a space as possible – so concise, effective writing is essential.
Don't force the viewer to scroll or swipe due to unnecessary verbiage. Get rid of anything that isn't making a relevant point and review your writing to see if you can edit it down or make it simpler.
Grab the attention right away
As we mentioned earlier, a mobile user's eye is drawn to the top half of the screen, so you really have very little space to capture the viewer's attention – make those first few lines count. Grab the attention with a benefit message and a summary of the content.
Use short paragraphs
Not only is there less space on a mobile screen, but mobile users tend to have less attention and patience than desktop users. Long paragraphs will frighten them off, so keep paragraphs short.
Break the content up into easy-to-digest chunks.
3) Make it easy to connect
So you have a great responsive website, concise copy and a marvellously mobile-friendly email campaign, but does it all fall down at the very beginning? How do people find it?
Although they never took off as predicted, QR codes have made a slight comeback in recent years, especially with younger mobile users. Pokemon players have been using them to hack their games and the famous street artist Banksy used one in a recent artwork.
If someone is at an exhibition, conference or seminar, an easy way to get them to your website is to have a QR code in plain view. This makes it really easy for them to go to your landing page, email you or even call you, depending on the code. Put a QR code on your printed material, business cards and eBooks – the easier you can make the initial process, the better.
However, QR code scanning software is not in wide use, and many users will not be prepared to download a scanning app just to read a code (or they may not understand the process). So it's just as important to ensure that any printed URLs are short and easy to type. Here, URL shortening services can help – they allow you to create a short URL that points to a much longer website or landing page address.
And if you are hosting an exhibition, conference or seminar, make sure that there is free, easy to use WiFi (i.e. - no login required) so that if delegates want to sign up to your newsletter or view your website they can.
You cannot ignore the growing number of your prospects that will be viewing your content on a mobile device. Make sure your website, email newsletters and any other digital content plays nicely on mobile devices. Write concisely and with consideration for the mobile user. And make sure you remove all barriers to a mobile user receiving and engaging with your marketing content by making it as easy as you possibly can.
By far the best way to ensure you are doing all this right is to test, test and test again on various mobile devices. How does your website look on an iPhone, an Android phone, on an iPad or generic tablet, a small laptop or on a desktop with a large screen? What about your landing pages, your blog, your sign up forms, your email newsletters and your eBooks?
Mobile is not going away anytime soon and it's use in the B2B arena is increasing. Don't ignore it – make it an integral part of your marketing strategy.