I wanted to start this post with an example of a great B2B mobile app that I regularly use—an app that I can’t imagine doing my job without. But I couldn’t think of one. Not that they don’t exist—I’m sure they do—but I personally haven’t found an app that is engaging, genuinely useful, and integrates seamlessly with my day-to-day workflow.

If a firm that I already followed created an app that helped me become a better marketer, streamline my work, and was enjoyable to use, I’d download it in a heartbeat. I can think of several tools and processes I’d love to see in a mobile app; there’s a clear gap in the B2B mobile experience that digital marketers should be racing to fill. Mobile presents tremendous opportunities for B2B companies to reach their audience with increasingly useful and valuable brand interactions and services.

For the typical B2B persona, the value of a product can be measured by how much it increases efficiency or streamlines a process. That’s why productivity is at the heart of the B2B mobile engagement cycle.

Defining Productivity

Productivity can best be described as effectiveness: It is a measure of outcomes against effort. In other words, the less effort it takes to accomplish a given task, the more productive that effort is. Packaging productivity for B2B users means more than simply replicating a process they already perform. It’s not just a calendar app; it’s a calendar app that syncs with coworkers’ schedules, automatically updates across devices, sends event notifications, stores recurring information, and initiates supply orders when the time comes.

Great Examples of B2B Mobile Productivity Tools That Actively Engage Users

1. Mobilize Prospecting and Networking

Hoovers Inc. is a B2B company that makes corporate, industry, and customer data available to businesses building lists, and looking for leads and industry insights. In 2010, they rolled out an app that “uses location-based technology as a sales prospecting tool.” Their users can search and segment prospects; map and group sales calls by region; and even get directions to their next stop. These tools make the sales rep more efficient, increasing productivity by increasing the number of calls he or she can make in a given day.

The Monetate Resource Library is a content app for digital marketers that delivers “the latest trends, best practices, and innovative campaigns for creating the ultimate online customer experience.” It combines 50 website optimization resources covering testing, merchandising, conversion rate optimization (CRO), and targeting in multiple lengths and formats. And you can quickly print, bookmark, or email content for later reading. This app positions itself as the one-stop, comprehensive source for staying up to date and competitive as a digital marketer—an enticing promise.

LinkedIn released Cardmunch, a tool for collecting and organizing business contacts that feeds directly back into their site. Users can instantly scan and upload business cards. The info will be processed by a live person, who follows up with a LinkedIn invite to send to the new contact with a single click. The contact info also goes into a content management system, Outlook, and more. For the person who already uses LinkedIn, or who wants to, this is a brilliant way to ramp up engagement with the site while simplifying users’ lives.

2. Mobilize Business Meetings

Adobe has its own Web conferencing platform that works across devices. Thanks to the mobile app, I have attended work meetings and viewed presentations from the passenger seat of my car and the bleachers at my kids’ basketball practices.

Teleconferences are the norm for many business teams. Smartphone videoconferencing is a welcome option for B2B users, so long as the technology is viable. Enabling virtual meetings is a sure way to become a valuable productivity-boosting resource for companies. But mobilizing meetings means much more than teleconferencing: apps are springing up to help plan and organize meetings, connect attendees, and disseminate schedule changes and agenda updates instantaneously.

Meetr takes a unique approach to meeting management by helping “companies and employees calculate the cost of time spent by groups or individuals in meetings, conference calls or other events.” Additional features include Meetr Docs, for accessing and editing shared documents, and tools to prepare and present materials and follow-up with attendees.

This year, Adobe is rolling out an app for the 2014 Summit. The Web-based and mobile app lets users access a detailed guide to sessions, special events, professional development workshops, speakers, exhibitors, and more. The app can integrate with personal digital calendars, help you navigate the conference location, network with fellow attendees, and connect on social media channels.

3. Mobilize Customer Relationship Management

CRM can encompass a broad range of services, activities, and touchpoints, and there are many apps on the market to cover a range of needs. Yet it’s still one of the most important and sought-after areas of mobile business technology. Differentiate your mobile CRM tools by tailoring them to the preferences and priorities of your unique B2B users (hint: you may want to start by looking at the needs and profiles of their unique customers).

Apps like Nimble and Contactually have especially strong social media integrations, enabling users to filter social streams so the important customer conversations don’t get drowned out in the noise. Base measures sales, goals, and quotas across multiple regions, and Audius dashface visualizes that information and lets sales employees create customer contracts.

Companies spend billions on CRM systems each year, but can’t always access and use them in the field. Even if you don’t create full-fledged CRM systems, you can consider creating a third-party mobile CRM app that helps users sync with and derive more value from their tech investments.

What Are You Doing to Create B2B Mobile Marketing Tools That Engage Your Audience?

Whether at the office or working remotely, professionals rely on productivity tools to stay in close contact with company operations. Create mobile experiences that make us want to use B2B apps on our phones and tablets. Think of your brand as a B2B ally, and listen to the preferences of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and marketers. As you respond with mobile content and services that keep users connected with their team and their consumers, you position your brand as a champion of their work. And, as you’ll learn in my next post, supporting and celebrating the efforts of your customers leads to a more reciprocal relationship with lasting loyalty.

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