For at least the past five years, various pundits have breathlessly predicted that each subsequent year would see the widespread rise of mobile marketing in B2B. We’re still waiting. Sure, some B2B marketers are employing a handful of mobile tactics, but the majority still see little or no value investing resources in significant mobile efforts despite its rapid expansion and proven value in the B2C world. That said, is it finally time to reconsider?

When contemplating the rise and expansion of B2B mobile marketing, it’s impossible to separate adoption of tactics and strategies from the devices on which they’re delivered. It has only been in the past two to three years, with the introduction of the iPhone, the Android mobile operating system and advances in the Blackberry Web browser, that business-user mobile Internet access has become truly commonplace. In fact, many B2B buyers now have three screens in their lives: television, computer and smartphone. Considering the increased challenges in reaching target audiences and the growing ubiquity of smartphones, along with business users increasingly accessing email, surfing the Web and viewing media (e.g. video, podcasts) via mobile devices, the emerging relevance and future importance of mobile marketing can no longer be ignored.

That said, we talk to many B2B marketers and there is no sign that mobile will become a major focus of resources and activity in 2011. Instead, we increasingly hear from marketing leaders that they are beginning to think, plan and experiment in several areas. While there is some activity and buzz around mobile apps, mobile advertising, mobile Web sites and even location-based marketing, other interesting and immediately relevant mobile marketing issues include:

  • Content marketing. Leading organizations, aware that customers and prospective buyers are increasingly accessing content via mobile devices, are developing new content creation and content management processes to ensure all relevant video, audio, text, etc. is optimized for display on mobile platforms.
  • Email marketing. Since most mobile devices used by business users today are much better at rendering HTML emails than they were even one year ago, many B2B marketers think that email design issues for mobile devices is a thing of the past. While the issue is less daunting today, marketers must continue to consider audiences that will access their emails on mobile platforms. This entails continuing to ensure emails render properly on all common devices, designing for smaller screens and understanding the unique needs and behaviors of the growing audience that reads your emails away from the office and computer. 
  • Sales/partner enablement. Leading B2B marketers are thinking about the information that salespeople and channel partners need in the field, and how to make that information accessible. One common tactic is providing a mobile-friendly interface for sales and partner information portals, customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA).
  • If you are thinking about implementing mobile strategies, start by examining the mobile behaviors (e.g. smartphone adoption, email access, Web surfing) of your target audiences – including your sales teams and partners – and think about how you can begin to engage them by executing tactics that meet their needs and align with your goals.