One of the things I've enjoyed about editing the profiles of BtoB's Top Marketers over the years is the insight they provide on trends to watch for in the coming year. This time around I was most interested in what these best of the best had to say about mobile marketing, which I believe is finally going to take off in b2b in the coming year.
Despite the ubiquity of mobile devices—and who hasn't heard by now the statistic that they outnumber toothbrushes globally?—many b2b marketers are still hesitant to get moving on mobile. Consider the case of technology companies, which generally are on the leading edge of marketing trends. According to International Data Corp.'s recently released “2013 Tech Marketing Benchmark Study,” tech companies this year allocated only 1.7% of their marketing budgets for mobile ads, 1.4% for mobile Web and apps, and 0.7% for SMS text messaging. I would have expected a much larger share for mobile overall than 3.8%.
Several of this year's Top Marketers in traditional b2b categories show that they get mobile. Marty Willis, CMO of OppenheimerFunds, perhaps summed up best where b2b should be headed. “For a long time,” she said, “our marketing has been focused on "think digital first'; but now it's becoming "think mobile first.' We see mobile becoming the cornerstone of our further digital development.”
For DuPont, mobile is an increasingly important way to reach customers in global markets. CMO Scott Coleman said this is especially true in places such as India, “because the vast majority of people don't own a computer.”
Dow Chemical Co. and USG Corp. are using mobile to great effect on a micro-level to get into their audiences' work flows. It's tough to top the practicality of products such as Dow AgroSciences' Woody Weed Control app or USG's videos to help drywall installers at job sites. (Another good example is Hobart Corp.'s impressive Spotlight app, the winner in the branded app category in this year's BtoB's Best Creative Awards.)
While the IDC survey results gave me pause, the Interactive Advertising Bureau's “Marketers' Perception of Mobile Advertising” shows the gathering momentum behind mobile. The survey of 300 brand marketers found that their mobile budgets soared 142% between 2011 and this year.
The IAB study did show, however, that mobile is not catching on as quickly with b2b marketers, as 41% said they still consider mobile “experimental,” compared with 27% of b-to-c marketers. Also, only 50% of b2b marketers said they were satisfied with their mobile efforts, compared with 70% of their b-to-c peers.
It's probably safe to forecast that by this time next year, the percentage of b2b marketers that see mobile as “experimental” will fall sharply while satisfaction levels rise.
John Obrecht is the editor of BtoB. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.