Purchases from mobiles are rising, how can B2B marketing use mobile for complex deals?

As Black Friday figures, stats and marketing stories flood our social feeds, many are focused on buying on mobile. But the instant gratification of buying a 50-inch flat screen TV at 70% discount from your smartphone while watching X-Factor can never be compared to the B2B journey on mobile. So how does B2B marketing start to adopt the mobile strategies that retail are capitalising on?

The key to success in using mobile for B2B is understanding your relationship with your potential clients. My brother-in-law used to broker £multi-million commercial property deals. I’m sure his economics degree and accounting qualifications helped – but if you ask him what skill really counted – it would be the ability to create a trusting relationship.

The highest point of trust, according to the demandgen report, is peer referrals. They also found that 90% of the B2B buyers they surveyed believed that content needs to be more mobile-friendly. The convenience of mobile is clearly important but so is trust. Can they work together? [SOURCE:, 2014 B2B Content Preferences Survey]

Consider these numbers from Useablenet and Customer Think:

  • B2B e-commerce is estimated to hit $780 billion this year, rising to $1.1 trillion by 2020
  • 70% of B2B marketers get 25% of their site traffic from mobile
  • Nearly 60% of business buyers have purchased online
  • 56% of B2B buyers often use their phones to look at B2B sites
  • 24% of B2B buyers have made business purchases with their phone
  • 94% of B2B buyers do at least a little research online before taking the plunge on business purchases. Of those aged 18-25, 55% use their phones to research. So do 36% of those aged 45.

[SOURCE: Louis Foong, Customer Think and Useablenet survey, October 2015]

The B2B Challenge: The long sales cycle

Multi-million pound deals might never happen with the click of a button on a smartphone but mobile will certainly lead to the final relationship that seals the deal. Multiple-decision makers and long periods between interactions contribute to large B2B organisations losing concentration on mobile in favour of events and direct interactions.

At OgilvyOne Business, we consider technology and data is more than a means to an end – it’s an insight into the human behind the device. Marketing automation is a powerful tool in building relevance and contact with an audience, but even our newly qualified Marketo consultant would argue that understanding human nature is what matters most. We use the technology to build the relationship and keep it alive through a protracted sales cycle, as well as helping our clients understand the relationships between complex groups of decision-makers. And this is where mobile can play a vital part.

Using data, tracking, attribution and testing to understand context

This isn’t about big data or machine learning. Web analytics can help you understand the context in which your audience looks at your content and content like it. Because there’s never been a more personal piece of digital technology than a smartphone.

Is your potential customer at home – or commuting? In a lunch break? Catching up on industry news after the weekend? Do they share – and who with – on what channel? Did they come from an industry website, news, lifestyle first? Not to mention data from location-based services (which can also target individuals attending B2B events).

Mobile is critical to getting inside your customer’s mindset, whether using location, programmatic (RTB) advertising, or retargeting and customer matching (custom campaigns and lookalikes) on social platforms, whether LinkedIn, Facebook, Google or Twitter.

Mobile tactics:

There are tactics and technical implementation we look at. This list (not exhaustive) is the start:

  • Responsive design and micro interactions
  • Short-form and visual content
  • Ensuring everything is mobile-friendly (and seen by search engines)
  • Attribution and tracking is in place
  • Mobile apps for sales enablement collateral
  • Exploring Google’s AMP for mobile (don’t rush yet, it’s early days)

Mobile strategy:

But the most important starting point at OgilvyOne Business is understanding the nature and benefit of the relationship with the customer by exploring:

  • What the data is really telling us about them as people and their interactions within their organisation?
  • Define the goals, scoring and journey at every touchpoint
  • Define the context and the right content, delivered to the right person at the right moment – whether through social remarketing or using marketing automation such as Marketo
  • What is the value exchange (downloads, gated content, sharing) at any point for the customer?
  • What your organisation needs to start to align in terms of process, culture, people and technology
  • The UX for mobile – from email to social to website, on any device
  • A multivariate testing plan across dynamic content, email and advertising

In our recent experience with global B2B brands, from directly attributable marketing automation and trackable campaigns, major commercial deals are achieved though understanding the context and nature of the relationship at any one given touchpoint. We use technology together with understanding your customers’ needs to build relevance, personalisation and, ultimately, trust.