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The missing link

Within consumer marketing, strategies that don’t take mobile and tablets into account are flawed; these channels are now integral. However, within B2B marketing practitioners are less convinced. The pace and diversity in how we communicate has sped up dramatically, businesses can no longer function without new technologies, yet B2B marketing rarely reflects this. Marketers need to have a strategy for reaching each of these channels in an appropriate way that maximises the individual benefits. There is no longer a one size fits all approach, messaging needs to be tailored to format. 

As people increasingly access the internet via mobile devices means it is now essential for companies to develop ads specifically to be displayed on a mobile screen, and even build their own individual apps. Unlike traditional channels, mobile offers brands an opportunity to connect with people on a 24/7 basis at a level controlled entirely by the individual. B2B marketers simply need to ensure that content is based on the needs of the individual, taking into account their profession, preferred time and location.

Tablets are similarly important. Tablet owners are predominantly professionals, who are likely to be more digital savvy than most and therefore the most responsive to digital marketing activity. A recent study by Research Centre and The Economist Group revealed that 77% of tablet owners use their devices daily with an average of 90 minutes per day. Smartphone use has risen sharply to the point of near necessity amongst the UK market, whereas tablets remain a more niche market. Companies need to find a way of adding to their experience of the platform and not simply bombard them with messaging. To achieve this you need to create something that captures people’s imagination and compliments the format. Mobile users, for example, are unlikely to want lengthy text or a fiddly interface, whereas this would be ideally suited to a tablet.

Apps also provide exciting potential. There is no standard format to follow, fewer creative restrictions, heightened personalisation opportunities and are highly accessible. A campaign by IBM perfectly demonstrates how effective they can be. Every year, IBM invites a small group of senior business executives to Wimbledon. They use this as an opportunity to form new leads and promote its ‘Smarter Planet’ messaging to this hard to reach group of influential people. Their solution was simple.

At Wimbledon, attendees are often frustrated that despite paying lots of money for a ticket, you are still unable to access all the courts. IBM consequently developed an app that when pointed in the direction of a court, provides you with x-ray vision to see the action. Additionally, live updates on live match scores, radio, taxi feeds and points of interest with live twitter feeds were available. IBM succeeded in showcasing its advanced technology by placing a creative app directly in the hands of potential client’s and decision makers.

In terms of traditional display ads, it is no longer sufficient to simply replicate the same banner-style strategy designed for a laptop or desktop computer. The traditional format does not invite engagement, unlike the tablet format, which relies on interaction and rich, colourful creative. The unique qualities of the iPad, Android tablet or any other device of this kind revolves around visuals and touch. The possibility of incorporating videos, animations, audio, hotspots and augmented reality all add an instant level of interactivity that allows for more user-driven advertising. This range of opportunity is clearly having some impact; a recent study by Rhythm New Media has found that full-page display ads on tablets reach an impressive 21% engagement rate compared with 9.4% for the same ad units on smartphones.

Interactive online marketing is complex and a time-consuming practice that requires a highly skilled team behind it. Marketing strategies need to get a lot more creative and consider a lot more carefully about what they put where and more importantly, how.

 Peter Veash, Managing Director of The BIO Agency