In my last post, I intro­duced my B2B mobile engage­ment cycle—a fresh take on the tra­di­tional sales fun­nel that reflects the needs and behav­iors of today’s B2B users. My cycle empha­sizes the longer engage­ment and enable­ment phases that are part of any B2B sales path. It’s a cycle because mobile vis­i­tors increas­ingly use a cycli­cal deci­sion mak­ing process, freely alter­nat­ing between research­ing, com­par­ing prod­ucts, con­sum­ing con­tent, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in social—or doing all at once.

The five stages of my cycle are

  • Con­tent and influence
  • Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and nurturing
  • Inter­ac­tive research and comparison
  • Pro­duc­tiv­ity and preference
  • Loy­alty and investment

I’ll be exam­in­ing each stage in a series of posts, start­ing with what might be the most amor­phous stage: con­tent and influence.

Don’t Pres­sure B2B Mobile Users

No one likes to be pres­sured into a sale, espe­cially not a busi­nessper­son who is respon­si­ble for mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant soft­ware or tech­nol­ogy pur­chases that will affect the pro­duc­tiv­ity and profit of his or her com­pany. That’s why B2B vis­i­tors are doing more and more research and com­par­i­son on their own, putting off that phone call with a sales­per­son as long as pos­si­ble. Accord­ing to For­rester research, 70 per­cent of a com­plex B2B pur­chase deci­sion is “already com­plete by the time prospects inter­act with a sales representative.”

Mar­keters need to get cre­ative to find more touch points with B2B users through­out the cycle. Our con­tent mar­ket­ing strate­gies are more impor­tant than ever. The con­tent we deliver and the way we deliver it have the power to make vis­i­tors feel heard and under­stood, draw­ing them in. The key is to stop view­ing your B2B users as walk­ing dol­lar signs, and treat them as com­plex, intel­li­gent indi­vid­u­als and col­leagues in business.

Mobile Per­son­al­iza­tion Is King

B2B con­tent mar­ket­ing is noth­ing new. Only a measly 9 per­cent of mar­keters do not use con­tent mar­ket­ing to reach B2B users. But con­tent mar­ket­ing prac­tices are still evolv­ing, and dif­fer­ent strate­gies have yielded widely vary­ing degrees of success.

A main ingre­di­ent in suc­cess­ful con­tent mar­ket­ing efforts is per­son­al­iza­tion. No mat­ter what stage of the B2B mobile cycle you look at, per­son­al­iza­tion is para­mount. A per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ence can be piv­otal in every step of the B2B pur­chase path, which is much length­ier than a typ­i­cal B2C sales funnel.

The goal is to cre­ate a one-stop mobile des­ti­na­tion. Offer unique Web con­tent and rel­e­vant prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions based on the visitor’s data. Keep vis­i­tors engaged with indus­try reports and thought lead­er­ship they’ll use and value. When per­son­al­iza­tion is con­sis­tent through­out the cycle, vis­i­tors come to expect con­ve­nience and value from each inter­ac­tion with your brand.

After research­ing and com­par­ing mul­ti­ple com­pet­i­tive prod­ucts on a mobile device, B2B pur­chases can still boil down to a gut feel­ing. A good gut feel­ing comes from mem­o­rable and engag­ing dig­i­tal inter­ac­tions that make a busi­ness user feel under­stood. And that sense of under­stand­ing comes from tar­geted and respon­sive content.

Know How to Use Thought Leadership

B2B users don’t need more items tacked onto their to-do lists. They are con­stantly search­ing for ways to save time, stream­line processes, and boost effi­ciency. They are using mobile to search for clearly writ­ten con­tent that gets to the point and helps them get the job done. A Par­dot State of Demand Gen­er­a­tion report found that 70 per­cent of B2B vis­i­tors “would pre­fer to have the infor­ma­tion con­tained in 5 or fewer pages.” In other words, lengthy whitepa­pers and time-consuming case stud­ies won’t get you far in mobile. Con­sider instead a com­pletely mobile expe­ri­ence that cov­ers five pages worth of whitepa­per in an eas­ily scrol­lable, con­sum­able mobile interface.

Pub­lish­ing thought lead­er­ship is not about search rank­ings, SEO key­words, or site traf­fic. It’s about being the first com­pany an exec­u­tive thinks of when in the mar­ket for new tech­nol­ogy. Carl Friesen of the Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Insti­tute pro­vides an excel­lent illus­tra­tion of the unique power of thought lead­er­ship with his story of how the Greater Toronto Air­port Author­ity (GTAA) selected the United Motor­coach Asso­ci­a­tion (UMA) for an impor­tant engi­neer­ing project:

Did the pres­i­dent of GTAA sit down at a Google search box and enter a term like, “excel­lent air­port designer” or “awe­some air­port access road lay­out”? Prob­a­bly not.

 That’s because the GTAA president’s job depends, in part, on know­ing how to find an answer to the ques­tion, “Who’s at the top of this field?” Sub­ject searches are rel­e­vant for a busi­nessper­son choos­ing a pho­to­copier or other small-ticket item. But this isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the case for a major, bet-your-career deci­sion like choos­ing the right firm to lead a high-cost, mul­ti­year project.

 Using thought lead­er­ship for B2B mobile mar­ket­ing means deliv­er­ing it to your cus­tomers at the right time and place, in email, social media apps, busi­ness apps, and a highly nav­i­ga­ble mobile site. Don’t expect peo­ple to seek out your con­tent. Place it in front of and opti­mize it for a tar­geted segment.

Align with Influencers

The goal of thought lead­er­ship is to build a rep­u­ta­tion as a valu­able and cred­i­ble resource in your indus­try. Key play­ers within your com­pany need to demon­strate their exper­tise, becom­ing renowned and trusted names. Addi­tion­ally, it’s impor­tant to con­nect with notable thinkers out­side your com­pany. As out­siders with­out a stake in your com­pany, their opin­ion of your brand can be extremely influ­en­tial. Over time, when you effec­tively engage influ­encers, they become linked with your brand, grow­ing aware­ness for your prod­ucts and ser­vices before a B2B user even begins search­ing for them.

Your B2B mobile con­tent mar­ket­ing can also serve as influ­encer out­reach. Find ways to inter­act with influ­encers on social media plat­forms that aren’t spammy or dis­re­spect­ful. Get to know their mes­sage, then strate­gi­cally sup­ply them with con­tent that serves their audi­ence. By build­ing a rela­tion­ship and offer­ing them value, it’s pos­si­ble to con­vert influ­encers into your own social media advocates.

Make Your Con­tent Work Overtime

Invest­ing thought­fully and heav­ily in the con­tent and influ­ence stage can pay major div­i­dends through­out the B2B mobile engage­ment cycle. In this stage, engage­ment is about per­son­al­iz­ing and posi­tion­ing con­tent to meet a need before vis­i­tors even know they have one. This stage is con­stantly at work, dri­ving the other four stages. Your con­tent can be con­sumed while com­mut­ing, trav­el­ing, or sit­ting at home using a mobile device. Make it work well for these expe­ri­ences and it will work over­time for your brand.

My next post will explore how to tai­lor your cus­tomer com­mu­ni­ca­tions and nur­tur­ing strate­gies to the B2B mobile prospect.