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.