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B2B Mobile Marketing: 3 ideas on where to spend your next mobile budget

November 11th, 2013

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

It?s hard to believe that this December will mark 10 years since I received my first cell phone as a gift on Christmas morning. It was a black and white Nokia that I used for three things:

  • Phone calls
  • The occasional text
  • Playing ?Snake?

Needless to say, mobile devices have come a long way in 10 short years, with Americans now consuming 12% of their media through mobile phones. While this evolution of mobile devices has widely made accessing the Internet far more convenient for consumers, it has added a whole new challenge for digital marketers. Although this media consumption is centered on B2C consumers, it?s worth keeping watch for two key reasons:

  1. The lines between B2C and B2B are growing more blurry (and debated) as B2I grows in relevance
  2. More than half (52%) of B2B marketers consider mobile marketing very important to influence their company growth in the next three years

We all know that mobile users are different. They want to find their valuable information quickly and easily. This is not always an easy task given the small screen size and touch functionality found on most mobile devices, but it is certainly not impossible to provide users with a compelling, user-friendly mobile experience. In today?s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog, I?m going to share three spend ideas to help you balance value and reduce the overall user friction in your mobile experience.

Spend #1. Make convenience essential

Mobile users are exactly what their name entails. They are typically on-the-go and may not have long periods of time to learn how to navigate a site. Ensuring that prospects can find the information they want as quickly and easily as possible is essential to ensure users have an enjoyable visit. This is often difficult as mobile visitors expect a level of value similar to your website in a simplified format. But, there are options available to make your mobile site very convenient. Utilizing one-touch tools across your mobile site will allow visitors to easily navigate without having to select multiple small calls-to-action. One-touch CTAs allow the user to perform actions such as calling for assistance, finding a location near them, and adding an item to the cart. These are to ensure that a user can navigate as easily as possible.

Spend #2. Keep the mobile experience simple

As I?ve mentioned, your mobile experience should be convenient and user-friendly, allowing the visitor to easily access the information they are looking for. Presenting them with a cluttered layout is the quickest way to get a user to bounce from your mobile site. Therefore, keeping it simple is the key to your success. While this may seem fairly intuitive, making this step a reality can be difficult. Users come to a mobile site expecting it to have the same functionality as the desktop version, but on a screen a fraction of the size. It is extremely important to test your mobile site to determine the information and features that are most important to visitors, eliminating all unnecessary clutter. While there will always be people in your organization that argue against the removal of certain information and features from a site, maintaining a simple layout is crucial to the success of your mobile site.

Spend #3. Keep the experience congruent across devices

This may be the one of the most difficult steps to accomplish when developing a mobile site, but in terms of continuity, it?s vital.

While your mobile site must be optimized for the mobile user, it should still have a similar feel to your desktop experience. Let?s use Boeing as an example of what I?m talking about in terms of keeping your aesthetics congruent across multiple devices. Many mobile visitors will already have a familiarity with your brand and have likely visited your desktop site prior to accessing the mobile version. So ideally, you want to ensure that the form and function of your mobile site are similar to that of your desktop version. This will give these users a sense of familiarity with the site, even if it is their first mobile visit. Even when your mobile site uses a similar structure, many users may still prefer the desktop version of a site. Make sure that you include an easy-to-find link ? typically placed in the footer ? allowing visitors to switch to the desktop version of your site on their mobile devices. While creating an engaging mobile experience is not an easy feat to accomplish, it is certainly not impossible given the tools and resources available today. Hopefully these three ideas will help you strike the right balance between value and friction on your own mobile site. Also, share any tips you have for helping marketers develop a great mobile experience in the comments below.

Related Resources:

Mobile Marketing: What 4 top B2B companies can teach us about mobile Lead Generation: Who knows the customer better ? Marketing or Sales? Lead Management: 4 principles to follow

B2B Content Marketing: 5 questions every marketer should ask themselves when using native advertising

August 12th, 2013

Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

As marketers, we’ve all heard the buzz about native advertising. We’ve heard how it?s going to revolutionize advertising and begin to phase out traditional display ads. But despite all of the hype, it seems like everyone still has varying ideas of what native advertising actually is. In today’s B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I wanted to share my view on native advertising from a business intelligence perspective and the role I believe it has in the future of Internet marketing.

Question #1. How can we use native advertising?

What do you think of when you hear the term “native advertising?” An advertorial? Valuable content with a paid placement? Promoted tweets? Search engine marketing ads? Promoted stories and posts on social media networks? Over the last year or so, I?ve heard countless different arguments about the true meaning of native advertising. So, I asked myself, “Why does everyone seem to have such differing views?” Why isn’t defining native advertising as black and white as some of the other marketing concepts we deal with on a daily basis? Well, if you ask me, it’s because that’s essentially what a native advertisement is. There is no current standard for native advertising, nor will there ever be one, and that’s the point. A native advertisement is supposed to adapt to the content surrounding it in order to engage a potential customer by using their previously indicated interests. If there were set standards for native advertisements, that would essentially eliminate the advantage native ads are claimed to offer. Which brings me to another point ? With all of the tools available today, we have the distinct advantage of knowing far more about our potential customers than marketers in generations past. All of this knowledge allows us to create highly relevant content to attract the attention of those potential leads based on their decision to interact in a specific environment. So, if there was a set formula, wouldn’t it essentially eliminate the ability we have to provide a user with highly relevant content that, if presented correctly, will engage them when they may have otherwise been disinterested? Consequently, I would suggest marketers take a moment to stop focusing on a rigid definition of what native advertising is and isn’t to embrace what it can do for your marketing efforts given the adaptability native ads offer.

Question #2. Is native advertising really a new tactic?

Not really. One thing that has me confused is why everyone seems to think that native advertising is such a new and revolutionary concept. When I first started to hear the buzz around native advertising, I immediately thought back to my high school cross country days. I remembered reading an article in Runner’s World about precautions you can take to avoid injuries. As I flipped through the pages, there was an ad placed for Asics shoes that outlined what causes many common running injuries and how its shoes were scientifically designed to help prevent these problems. I knew it was an advertisement, but it was also highly relevant to the content I was reading. I chose to divert my attention to the ad instead of the content around it. So, I would argue that Asics’ idea of designing an ad that was relevant to the content surrounding it was essentially a “primitive” utility of native advertising. Although my example is not a direct B2B example, it?s not a far reach to find native ad adoption in white papers or sponsored posts on Facebook that are also dispelling other myths about B2B social media use.

Question #3. Do our ads offer value and relevance?

Delivering valuable content that is relevant to your prospects is the key to a successful native ad campaign. Generating quality content can be a difficult task, but it?s certainly not impossible if done correctly. Producing valuable content that not only relates to the interest of the user, but is also relevant to your business should be the goal of every native advertising campaign you undertake. So, what does a successful B2B native ad campaign look like exactly? Well, according to Buzzfeed, it looks a lot like the consumerization of B2B marketing. GE Aviation created a “flight mode” campaign designed to promote its presence at the 2013 Paris Air Show. When users visited BuzzFeed.com, the flight mode campaign transformed the Buzzfeed homepage into a grid of articles readers could “fly” over with a little plane icon. Whenever users stopped on content they were interested in, they could hit the space bar and read the article in the normal view. While a lot of the buzz was centered on the seemingly odd pairing of an ad campaign for an aviation giant’s presence at an air show running on an online publication, the campaign has been considered as a success so far, which brings us back to my point ? Offering quality content that is relevant is central to successfully using native ads as a B2B marketing tactic.

Question #4. What are the risks?

I see a future in native advertising, but from a business intelligence perspective, “Careful you must be when sensing the future.” Yes, that was a quote from “Star Wars,” but Yoda?s advice actually holds a lot of truth when it comes to native advertising. While I will not dispute there is a future in native advertising for B2B marketers, I wanted to offer caution to use the tactic of native ads responsibly and here?s why. Imagine a scenario where your ideal prospect is researching a new product, let?s say software that lets small businesses share voice mails across cloud storage. Eventually your prospect comes across an article outlining all the benefits of using Brand X’s voice mail clouding over Brand Y’s service. If the information appears to be from a reputable source, the article may ultimately influence a prospect’s purchase. But, what happens to Brand X’s credibility the moment the prospect realizes that “article” was actually a carefully constructed advertisement produced by Brand X attempting to appear as impartial, informative content? Well, I don’t know about you, but for me, the brand is taking a big credibility gamble. Although this is a completely hypothetical situation, problems could very well arise if companies try to disguise native ads as unbiased content. Which brings me to my final question ?

Question #5. Are we trying too hard?

I know ? it goes against everything you have ever been taught. But when it comes to native advertising, trying too hard to disguise your ads can be the difference between a successful campaign, and losing a prospect for good. My suggestion here is to avoid trying to “disguise” an advertisement as unbiased or pragmatic content. If the content is native, you won?t have to disguise anything as it engages prospects without jeopardizing your organization?s credibility. I know I?d rather see a brand recognizing and embracing the potential of an advertisement than attempting to trick me by masking it behind the illusion of an unbiased expert. So, to sum it all up, while I do think native advertising has proven its potential as a content marketing tactic and is now being adopted more frequently into B2B marketing, I want to reinforce that a native advertisement is just that ? an ad. Positioning it otherwise may very well damage the credibility of your business and drive away prospects. But, if you embrace the ability you have to provide prospects with relevant and valuable content, there is potential for innovative new ways to turn native advertising campaigns into ROI.

Related Resources:

B2B Marketing: 3 reasons for adopting video content into your marketing mix Lead Generation: Content among the most difficult tactics, but also quite effective Content Marketing: Slow, steady pay off for manufacturer

Competitive Analysis: Stepping outside the industry and ahead of the competition

May 14th, 2013

Far too often, marketers become so ingrained within their own industry they fail to look elsewhere for valuable insights. My goal for this post is to challenge you to broaden your horizons and escape the confines of your industry.

I’m willing to bet you’ll find something worthwhile.

 

First, a definition …

Cross-industry competitive analysis is a study of company behavior and performance, outside of one specific industry, comparing several significant competitors. Using appropriate tools and tactics, researchers use analytic data to determine paradigm shifts within similar industries, and make predictions about possible cross-industry trends.

(MECLABS has a series of free competitive analysis templates for you to download, in case you need a little help getting started.)

 

Where to begin?

Now, one of the most difficult aspects of cross-industry competitive analysis is trying to figure out where to begin. Are you supposed to arbitrarily select a different industry from which to begin pulling valuable insights? The answer is found in one key aspect of every company – from the brand-new startup, to corporate giants like Apple, every company has one thing in common that they cannot survive without …

The customer.

It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest product in the world – without an interested customer, it really has no more value than the old shoe on the side of the road. I cannot stress this enough: the key to finding valuable insights in other industries is putting yourself in the shoes of your customer.

Read more…