ADVERTISING & MARKETING

B2B Marketers Are Getting Smart(er) about Mobile’s ROI

Dec 15, 2016 / By Vanessa Horwell

B2B marketers are shifting greater focus – and dollars – to the mobile channel.  And rightly so; Statista estimates that mobile commerce sales in the U.S. will double over the next three years, with market share likely to grow from 29% in 2016 to 44% in 2019.

But how many marketers go to bed at night with nagging doubts about mobile marketing’s effectiveness — and return on investment?

More often than not, ROI concerns are justified.

In 2017, digital ad spending may surpass television for the first time.  A recent eMarketer forecast puts TV ad spending in 2017 at $72 billion, or 35.8% of total media ad spending in the U.S. Meanwhile, total digital ad spending in 2017 will equal $77 billion, or 38.4% of total ad spending.

Still, despite this huge shift in spending, less than one third of mobile marketing investment can be attributed to specific business outcomes. A 2016 Forrester research survey found that only 27% of marketers reported the ROI of their mobile marketing campaigns as being profitable.  Another 67% were unable to measure it.

There’s certainly a lot of data that shows more B2B purchasing decisions are being made on mobile devices, especially as Millennials move up the corporate ladder. But as a marketer, how do you justify future investment in mobile marketing if you can’t prove its (current) value in attracting and acquiring new customers and filling the sales pipeline?

And how will you know if you’re measuring the right behaviors and data points to begin with?

KPI to the ROI
A discussion about ROI usually starts with key performance indicators.  However, Econsultancy’s 2016 Digital Intelligence Briefing, developed with Adobe, suggests too many companies are focusing on the wrong digital KPI(s) – for example, the number of downloads — when they should instead analyze recurrent usage and time spent to reveal valuable buyer behavior patterns.

Selecting the right mobile KPI can be particularly challenging.  The problem often begins with the wrong assumption of how a potential buyer uses a mobile device — and mobile behaviors may vary widely among industries.

McKinsey & Co, for example, has noted that a mobile device may be just a starting point in a longer buying process. The consultant’s research shows that a typical B2B buyer uses six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey.  A complicated purchase might begin with a mobile device, and then move to a computer, or a visit to a conference or an exhibit hall. So linking a download to a conversion rate requires a full understanding of the entire sales process and the ability to gather, integrate and interpret data across numerous platforms.

When you look at it that way, an excessive focus on conversion rates may actually understate the real value of mobile advertising and marketing.

And Then There’s Content
Search engines in many ways creating a level playing field on the technical, side with sound advice for content optimization, mobile optimization and other steps that can keep your company in the chase for business. Arguably, competitive advantage still boils down to a B2B marketer’s ability to tell a compelling story that contributes to lead generation, conversion and sales.

On top of mastering technical issues, a marketing team must develop and leverage engaging content that informs and motivates a buyer at key stages in the buying process.  The content must also be customized for each channel.  A small smartphone screen will place obvious physical limitations on the design and text.  Websites must be mobile-friendly, with easy access to richer product and technical data that will be needed as the buying process moves forward.

Your 2017 marketing budget kicks in very soon.  For B2B marketing professionals, some things to keep in mind as you make the case for an effective budget:

  • As mobile’s role in the sales process grows, select the right KPIs for measurement. Don’t assume that what works on your website will work on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Selection of appropriate KPIs should be linked to your company’s broader business goals.
  • Good content (both images and text) can drive the KPI in your favor.
  • Because mobile is often just the front door to a larger marketing and sales process, it’s vital that you have the ability to follow buyers across devices and into your organization. Measurement, in this context, mustn’t be isolated to a single channel.

Make sure the budget is working as hard as it can across all channels, but also measuring the right things, so that marketing efforts and content can continue to perform and inform the sales pipeline, the sales team and the company’s business goals.

Vanessa

Horwell

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