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As mobile use continues to rise, mobile devices are no longer a secondary consideration for buyers or their work, according to a new eMarketer report, “B2B Mobile Marketing and Advertising 2017: Chasing the Ever-More Mobile Buyer” (eMarketer PRO customers only).
Rather, decision-makers expect to have a mobile journey with B2B companies that is seamless with the rest of their engagement. Still, a disconnect remains between buyers' expectations and the customer experiences that B2B marketers are delivering. Unfortunately, the realization that mobile-ready marketing and advertising touchpoints are requisite is only slowly starting to sink in for most B2B brands.
According to a June 2016 survey of B2B buyers worldwide by Salesforce, the majority of respondents believed their mobile device was essential to their work. Millennials led the way, with 84% stating mobile was vital. Older generations, however, were not far behind: 76% of Gen X and 60% of baby boomers also said mobile was necessary to their work. These percentages will surely continue to grow in coming years, as more senior B2B buyers exit the workforce.
B2B buyers use their mobile devices to conduct business. "B2B customers have mobility in mind. That means mobile is more than a channel; it's really a moment, a point in time and space when a B2B customer pulls out a mobile device and wants to do something for work within the immediate context," said Wilson Raj, global director of customer intelligence at SAS Institute, an analytics and business intelligence software and services provider.
And research indicates US professionals use their mobile device for work frequently. A December 2015 survey by project management software provider Wrike found that 63% of respondents said they used their mobile device (phone or tablet) for work more than they had a year before. Furthermore, 44% of respondents checked their mobile device over 20 times per day for work, while one-quarter did so 11 to 20 times.
Many US professionals are using their mobile device to educate themselves with business-related content. That same Wrike survey revealed that 68% of respondents used their mobile device to read news related to their business or industry, 66% used specialized apps related to their work, and 56% viewed webinars or video content.
As a leader in the B2B mobile space, LinkedIn sees the majority of its members accessing its professional network in a mobile environment. Russell Glass, vice president of products at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, noted that he has seen an incredible shift over the past few years, as mobile has become the major engagement touchpoint for their product. "It's a pretty good microcosm for the overall space. Businesspeople are increasingly engaging with content on mobile in an out-of-the-office sort of a work mode," he said.
Device behaviors of B2B buyers are becoming less desktop-centric. In his assessment of mobile device penetration, Ethan Hays, head of performance marketing at B2B agency gyro, said, "Over the past few years, mobile use has spiked massively, but it hasn't really been at the expense of desktop."
January 2016 research from Demand Gen Report (DGR) showed desktop usage among US B2B buyers was still very strong, with 99% of those polled using one to access content. However, mobile was also used by the majority, with 82% accessing content with a smartphone, and 56% using a tablet.
Mobile usage for B2B buyers hasn't cannibalized desktop. Tripp Boyle, vice president of emerging platforms at multiscreen video advertising company YuMe, said his company has noted trends in the time of day the B2B audience uses certain devices. The morning and evening are commonly noted as more mobile times, but Boyle also said that "smartphones now outpace PC devices during the lunchtime hour."
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