Recently on LinkedIn the American Marketing Association posted a question about how Apple’s new iPad can be useful for B2B marketers. There were a lot of negative comments, saying there will be no use or impact. I disagree.
I think the iPad will have a big impact on B2B marketing. In some ways I think it will be similar to the impact of a Smartphone, but in other ways it will be much better. For B2B marketers, you can expect the following tools will be useful on an iPad (and Smartphone):
- Social Media tools:Twitter apps, Facebook’s app, Google Buzz’s app, LinkedIn’s app are all useful to B2B marketers. The difference is that these tools can now become more robust, since on an iPad it will be easier to switch between multiple Twitter accounts and even display multiple keyword searches at once (due to the larger viewing screen). Soon there will likely even be an app that pulls all these together so you can see everything happening in social media at once. Enterprise solutions like Radian 6 could create an app that would make their social media monitoring tool very useful on the go- via an iPad- allowing companies to know what is being said about their product or service at all times.
- CRM tools: An example of these are Oracle‘s and Salesforce.com’s mobile apps. While I agree (with some in the AMA LinkedIn post) that sales reps may not carry an iPad just to use these apps, marketers may use it to access lists of campaign members or see who was invited to an event. Imagine being able to pull up your attendee list for an event on your phone right from your CRM and then check-off people as they arrive. Even better, imagine using the iPad to enter new names right into the CRM while at an event- ideal for smaller shows that don’t have scanning capabilities. Marketing automation companies may extend into this area as well. At Marketo, we have some creative ideas for how to make marketing automation useful for our customers via Smartphones and iPads, but I don’t want to give away our secrets too soon.
- Presentations and Meetings: Hey, with a big screen why not use the iPad to walk through a presentation with a vendor or contractor at a local coffee shop or at their location. I even imagine scrolling though storyboards of my future campaigns without making people squint at my tiny iPhone screen. I can even have my iPad plugged into a projector during speaking engagements, allowing me to see the slides from the podium (via the iPad screen) while everyone else is watching the big screen behind me. It will also make my Webex app so much more useful – as now I will be able to see what is happening on screen (since it’s more than triple the size), making meetings on the road simple and easy.
- Blogging: Right now I have Typepad and WordPress apps on my iPhone. They are a pain to use because of the size of the keys- but at a conference or on the road these are often my best option. Having these apps on an iPad may work out great!
- Analytics tools: Right now I can view my website stats on my iPhone. This will be useful on an iPad too. Perfect during a meeting when my boss wants the results (views, conversions) of a new piece of content and I can’t run to my computer. Currently I use the Analytics Lite app for this, though Omniture has a Sitecatalyst for iPhone app that has had great reviews, too.
- Calculators: On my iPhone I have a regular calculator, a WolframAlpha super calculator, and even an SEM calculator (think CPL, CPM). I love having these at my fingertips at all times without carrying around multiple devices. The analytical B2B marketer will consider these a must have.
- Domain apps: Ever spend half a meeting choosing the name of a new campaign just to find out the name won’t work because the domain name is already taken? Apps like DomainScout make it easy to see if your domain is available on the fly.
- Conference apps: I love when a conference creates an app so you can easily see on a Smartphone what sessions are coming up next, follow all the tweets, find where the after party will be, and let me see the slides of a presentation. On an iPad this will be just as useful, if not more useful because of the larger screen.
- SEO tools: As someone in demand generation I never know what is going to be asked in a meeting. It can be anything from what is our current Google Page Rank to how many .edu links do we currently have or how do we compare to a competitor in website traffic. All of these answers and more can be found in two seconds using apps like SEOStats and SEO Checklist.
- News: Keeping up with everything new in B2B Marketing is not an easy task. To do this I use my Smartphone (and soon my iPad) to read my Google Alerts. I also use it to check out news from Marketing apps like on WAW (Web Analytics Wednesday) and MarketingProfs.
- Note taking: I love use my iPhone for notes, though it’s small keyboard is a challenge. This will be improved with the iPad, especially when using my favorite note taking app, Evernote. The great part about Evernote is that it syncs with the online version and my desktop version to ensure all my notes are together and available at all times.
Literally almost every piece of information a marketer needs on the go can be found easily via a Smartphone or iPad app. I didn’t even mention the obvious benefits like web browsing, books via the Kindle app, photos, easy access to files, calendars and email. This is only going to get easier as more companies build out tools so marketers can access their technology while in meetings or travelling.
For me, the bigger question is not will it have an impact, but when will it have an impact, as adoption of new technology tools can be slow for B2B marketers. Are there ways you are using your Smartphone or iPad that I did not mention? I would love to find other ways to use these technologies.