You are here

The Future is Calling

It’s 3pm on Tuesday the 18th of May. I am in a conference room at The Grove in Hertfordshire, attending Zeitgeist, surrounded by the great and the good from the world of business, politics, academia and technology from around the globe. And no -- I’m not quite sure why I was there either!

During this session, Evan Davis, the panel moderator, poses a question to Sir Tim Berners Lee, the estimable inventor of the Internet.  Evan asks, “So, Sir Tim - what are you most excited about?. There is hush in the room as everyone hangs expectantly on every word Sir Tim is about to say. The anticipation is palpable. He ponders for the briefest moment and then responds, “I’m very excited about mobile”.

Now I was extremely excited about his response. Firstly, because it gave me a great way to open this blog, but also because, for once, I realised that I had something in common with somebody really really smart!

The time is now right for mobile marketing, and this also means for B2B.  What we are seeing is almost a perfect storm, where all the elements are right and something serious is happening.

What do I mean? Well, let’s look at the key elements.

Firstly, it’s about the adoption of mobile technologies. Mobile is truly mass market. There are 4.6 billion mobile subscription contracts globally. Let’s put that into perspective. That’s around 70% of the global population and much more than the number of PCs and TV sets added together.

But you may not be interested in global, so let’s put this into a local UK context. In the UK we have 123% mobile phone penetration. That is more than one phone contract per person in the UK. How many of you have more than one mobile device?

This brings us to the second key element: the Device anduser experience. Today in the UK 24% of mobile phones are smartphones; that is, they have full Internet browser capability. It’s estimated that smartphone users are spending over 30 minutes per day accessing the Internet via their devices. And bringing it into the business context,there are 100 million smart phones in the hands of B2B decision makers . Although mobile marketing is far wider than Internet-based applications (let us not forget the impact of SMS marketing and the like), it’s Internet access that has been game changing.

Morgan Stanley and Gartner forecast that Internet access via mobile devices will be greater than that via PC’s by 2013. In fact, it is predicted that more smartphones will be sold than PCs by the end of next year. At Google we have seen a 400% increase in searches from mobile phones in the last 2 years and, interestingly, when we plot indexed growth of searches on Google in its first 9 quarters against that of Google mobile over its first 9 quarters, we see that mobile search is now growing faster. If any of you care to check your web analytics you will find that anything up to 10% of visits to your website is probably coming from mobile devices already.

But the most crucial element is around user need. And business people need their mobile devices - in fact they are never without them - as they help drive performance and productivity. I recently met with the Commercial Director of a large retail organisation who said that his mobile device was his primary business tool, he'd 'thrown' away his laptop!

OK, lets try something out. Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Am I a purchase decision maker or influencer for my business?
  2. if yes, do I have a have a mobile device?
  3. if yes, do I use my mobile device to get access to the internet?

OK, so now ask yourself. If I’m a decision maker and purchase influencer in my business and I use a mobile device to find information, am I so different from my target audience?

Also, get out of the mindset that mobile marketing is only about invasive SMS methods. Don’t look at mobile marketing from a push perspective, but from a pull perspective?

Do you know exactly where your prospects are in the buying cycle? Or when they are looking for specific information on which they will make a buying decision? My guess is that the answer is no.

What we do know is that the business decision maker is mobile and that they could be looking for that information at any time. So why wouldn’t you have a mobile-optimized experience for them? Do you think your customers are providing this experience? The answer is yes.

At a recent CMO summit we polled the audience about their plans for mobile marketing and of the 50 or so delegates 15% said that mobile was already in place today, a further 66% it would be in place this year. From this straw poll we can see that your competitors are already there.

So how are B2B companies already using mobile across all elements of marketing? We see lots of examples of companies using mobile for customer acquisition (the click-to-call option through Google search for mobile is one of the simplest tools for this); special promotions cross sales (many companies are using SMS to cross sell and promote offers to existing customers ); customer relationship service(from something as simple as an SMS notification through to a fully blown mobile app); brand awareness(where we see clients such as Cisco driving significant traffic to its website from mobile  ); to thought leadership  (for example how the IBM Seer application showcased technology at Wimbledon 2009).

So take a moment and ask yourself this question: What does my customer or prospect always have with him or her?

- Is it a piece of DM?

- Is it a newspaper or magazine?

- Is it a TV set?

- Is it a laptop?

- Is it their email?

- Is it their social network?

In reality, it isn’t one of those of things.

It’s all of those things: it’s their mobile device.