A busy CFO waits to board his flight home from a busi­ness trip. Fresh from a sem­i­nar on the impor­tance of Big Data ana­lyt­ics, he wants to know what busi­ness tech­nolo­gies would be worth his invest­ment. Before his flight, he uses his smart­phone to search for infor­ma­tion on the ROI of ana­lyt­ics soft­ware for mid-size busi­nesses. His search trig­gers an ad from a ven­dor that offers a case study fea­tur­ing his com­peti­tor. He clicks through and lands on a respon­sive mobile page with bul­leted con­tent and a video pre­sen­ta­tion. Ten sec­onds into the pre­sen­ta­tion, a slide address­ing his spe­cific con­cerns appears, with a pop-up link to down­load a detailed report. He hits down­load on his phone, giv­ing him easy access to the report on his tablet so it’s ready to read on the plane.

Mobile tech­nol­ogy has changed how this CFO dis­cov­ers the infor­ma­tion he needs, and how he inter­acts with the brands that pro­vide it. Mobile devices extend users’ pro­duc­tiv­ity, bring them in-the-moment con­tent, and put instant com­mu­ni­ca­tion and sup­port at their fin­ger­tips. And the under­pin­ning fea­ture rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing this process is interactivity.

What Is Interactivity?

Inter­ac­tiv­ity is the ideal means of B2B user engage­ment. It’s char­ac­ter­ized by eas­ily acces­si­ble, share­able, and con­sum­able con­tent made avail­able in real time. Mobile inter­ac­tiv­ity encom­passes fea­tures such as search­able infor­ma­tion and pre­dic­tive prod­uct com­par­isons; location-based con­tent and bar­code scan­ning; video and zoomable pho­tos; service-oriented native apps; real-time cus­tomer sup­port; and one-click sharable content.

Why Does It Matter?

The research and com­par­i­son stage of the B2B mobile engage­ment cycle is com­plex and ongo­ing, over­lap­ping nearly every other stage. B2B brands seek to keep users con­nected as they research, whether they’re just dis­cov­er­ing con­tent, or heav­ily eval­u­at­ing par­tic­u­lar prod­ucts. Users seek infor­ma­tion, but they also want con­ve­nience, enter­tain­ment, and human con­nec­tion. Mobile enables a new level of inter­ac­tion dri­ven by users’ own needs, ques­tions, loca­tions, behav­iors, and pref­er­ences. Infuse your B2B engage­ment cycle with both cap­ti­vat­ing and use­ful inter­ac­tiv­ity, and users will be less likely to stray.

Three Ways to Use Inter­ac­tiv­ity to Engage and Enable

1. Business-Hacking Apps

Niel­son reported that “smart­phone users spend 87 per­cent of their time using mobile apps,” and just 13 per­cent on the mobile Web. To posi­tion your­self in that 87 per­cent, you may want to con­sider devel­op­ing an app tar­geted to your B2B audi­ence. But not just any app will do.

B2B apps are most suc­cess­ful when they sim­plify a process, offer a valu­able ser­vice, or inte­grate mul­ti­ple user inter­ests and con­tent sources into one easy inter­face. Like pop­u­lar life-hacking apps that boost pro­duc­tiv­ity and effi­ciency with tricks and short­cuts, business-hacking apps will be smart, sim­ple, and deliver solu­tions. Exam­ples include

  • a sup­ply order­ing app that pre­dicts which items are run­ning low and sends a push noti­fi­ca­tion to restock;
  • an app that extends desk­top soft­ware fea­tures to smart­phones and tablets, such as alerts when new vis­i­tors reg­is­ter, so a rep­re­sen­ta­tive can instantly fol­low up;
  • this cus­tomiz­able sales team pre­sen­ta­tion app from L’Oreal, which “retains high qual­ity designs and brand­ing” and gen­er­ates “dynamic graphs and charts on-the-fly” using cus­tomer details and sales fig­ures; and
  • an app that checks online activ­ity across sites and gives a snap­shot of cur­rent ana­lyt­ics and vis­i­tor stats.

2. Mobi­liz­ing Pro­duc­tiv­ity and Sup­port with Tablets

Accord­ing to an Ogilvy­One sur­vey, “exec­u­tives have come to believe that ‘work is not a place; work is some­thing you do.’” Imag­ine the busi­ness user who keeps work­ing or stays con­nected to his col­leagues while attend­ing his daughter’s soc­cer match. As B2B mar­keters, we need to stop think­ing only of the busi­ness deci­sion maker behind a desk, and ask how we can engage the user in rel­e­vant, help­ful, mobile ways. Tablets are espe­cially well-suited for on-the-go pro­duc­tiv­ity. Opti­mize your con­tent for tablet devices, mak­ing the research and com­par­i­son phase flex­i­ble and portable, and users are more likely to keep digging.

On the other end, 90 per­cent of ven­dor rep­re­sen­ta­tives have said tablet devices improved their pro­duc­tiv­ity. Instead of flip­ping through brochures and cat­a­logs, tablets make it easy to pull up the most rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion and images in per­son. Reps can go out in the field and bring users your entire range of ser­vices. Infor­ma­tion becomes truly inter­ac­tive when peo­ple can pull it up at a moment’s notice.

3. Location-Based Events

A sur­pris­ing bonus of mobile tech­nol­ogy is that it can enhance offline engage­ment as well. Geolocation-powered alerts and check-in rewards are famil­iar exam­ples of dig­i­tal enhanc­ing the phys­i­cal expe­ri­ence. In B2B, there are many prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions for mobile engage­ment at con­fer­ences and events.

Rather than bring thou­sands of printed brochures to a mas­sive tradeshow, the DuPont Pio­neer busi­ness unit brought its Farm Progress Show iPad app. Atten­dees could search for the most rel­e­vant mate­ri­als and send tar­geted con­tent to their own devices for later read­ing. At Adobe, we host small events with our cus­tomers in var­i­ous cities, allow­ing us to meet in per­son and deliver tai­lored pre­sen­ta­tions. It’s cru­cial to also make addi­tional sup­port acces­si­ble to them with on-hand technology.

The Power of Interactivity

Mobile inter­ac­tions can deepen B2B user engage­ment, make mar­ket­ing mem­o­rable, empower sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and enable users to be more pro­duc­tive. Inter­ac­tiv­ity is about enabling the suc­cess of your users, and earn­ing their trust and loy­alty in return. Think of how your brand can be con­tin­u­ally present, avail­able, use­ful, and rel­e­vant to B2B users, and cre­ate a mobi­lized immer­sive expe­ri­ence that reflects their daily lives.