6 reasons why you need more mobile B2B content

Forcing people to consume content on a desktop is bound to deliver diminishing returns

November 29, 2016


There’s a lot of post-rationalisation out there when it comes to B2B mobile marketing – or rather the lack of it. It leads B2B marketers to believe that forcing people to engage through a desktop is a better way of achieving their marketing goals than optimising content for mobile. In this, they’re wrong. There’s a flawed logic at work that risks undermining their ability to engage and influence throughout the buyer’s journey.

Lead generation campaigns often involve gating assets in PDF form: eBooks, white papers and the like. Marketers know that trying to read a PDF on a mobile device is a pretty poor experience – but they trust to the fact that their audience will therefore make the effort to engage, download and read that PDF on a desktop. They even convince themselves that this is a better outcome to be aiming for because it’s an appointment to view, presents their content on a larger screen, primes their audience’s attention to focus on what they have to say, and of course, makes it easier for that audience to enter their information into a data capture form – and put their hand up as a lead.

This is a seductive way of looking at the B2B buyer’s journey – and I’m sure that, for some prospects, at some moments, it holds true. However, the fact that some people are willing to wait, download and read PDFs doesn’t mean that everyone is – and it doesn’t mean that the most important members of your audience are. Just as importantly, although PDFs can work at the lead generation point of the buyer’s journey, they are still badly unsuited to plenty of other important parts of that journey. As a B2B content marketer you need a more nuanced and flexible approach – and that approach has to include mobile.

Not convinced yet? Here are six reasons why B2B content marketers can’t keep ignoring the role of mobile in B2B decision-making:

Reason Number 1: Most of your audience will first encounter your B2B content on mobile
There is no denying the irresistible rise in the amount of B2B content that’s consumed on mobile devices. More than half of all engagement with LinkedIn, 57% in fact, takes place via mobile. The evidence is mounting that such mobile engagement is every bit as focused and purposeful as engagement that takes place on a desktop.

Reason Number 2: B2B buyers choose mobile for research – it's not just a make-do option
Far from using mobile just for surface-level engagement and waiting until they’re in front of a big screen for the more serious stuff, research from Google shows B2B buyers researching using mobile – and giving it a key role in their self-directed buyer’s journey. A study in 2015 showed that 42% of B2B researchers use a mobile device during the purchase process – and that 49% do so whilst they are in the office, when they would have larger screens available to them if they wanted.

Reason Number 3: Your most important audiences are more likely to encounter you on mobile – not less
It’s clear that decisions are shaped through content consumed on mobile – and B2B decision-makers are more likely to favour consuming content on mobile than anybody else. Our recent research into the B2B buyer’s journey found that they consume 7.2 times more content on mobile than the average professional. Given that we know such decision-makers are often time-poor and consuming content very intensively, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Reason Number 4: B2B decision-makers are developing a mobile habit
The 2015 Google study showed that the 42% of professionals who are consuming B2B content on mobiles are consuming it ever more intensively. This is significant, because it shows that for almost half of B2B audiences, turning to a smartphone to help find the content they need isn’t just convenient – it’s becoming habitual. As any neuroscientist will tell you, the thing about habits is that you can’t expect people to suddenly snap out of them just because they don’t fit the content format you’ve chosen. As the mobile content habits of B2B decision-makers harden, content that isn’t optimised for mobile is playing to a dwindling proportion of the potential audience.

Reason Number 5: There are ways to generate leads on mobile if you’re ready to get creative
A lot of the logic behind sticking with less mobile-friendly content formats rests on the argument that desktops are better for filling in data-capture forms – and that PDFs make for more impressive-looking gated assets. Things don’t have to be this way, however. Auto form-fills can help to remove a lot of the barriers from capturing leads on mobile – and there is no tablet written in stone that says people are only prepared to share contact details in exchange for PDFs. If we’re serious about optimising B2B marketing for mobile, then that will involve getting more creative about the form that value-adding content assets take.

Reason Number 6: It’s hard for your content to become a habit if it’s not mobile-friendly
The influence of mobile on the buyer’s journey extends far beyond the moment when prospects become leads. Getting people to this point involves getting them into the habit of looking to your brand as a source of authority, where the trigger is the need for relevant insight and the reward is the content you provide them with. It’s absolutely impossible to form this new habit if it doesn’t align with the already automatic behavior of decision-makers looking at their smartphones when they have an urge to consume something interesting. Equally, when time-poor B2B decision-makers are accustomed to managing their day through mobile devices, you can’t nurture them effectively and provide the practical information that leads towards a deal, unless your content makes sense on those devices.

Don’t try to swim against the mobile tide
It’s increasingly important for the content you design at every stage of the buyer’s journey to deliver a rewarding experience on mobile. Doing anything else is attempting to swim against the current of increasingly habitual B2B mobile behaviour – and trying to go against a habit is always a bad idea. The fact that PDFs and other non-mobile-optimised assets can generate engagement doesn’t mean mobile is a non-issue. Instead, it should start you thinking about how much more engagement you could generate if you weren’t forcing people to head to a desktop to access your content. It’s a leap. It will take some fresh thinking, some innovation and some creativity about how you present content – but at the end of the day, that’s what we’re in the content marketing game for. And every new piece of research provides more evidence that it will be worth it.