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B2B technology marketing: are you ready for 5G?

5G
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Who Is Danny)

Despite the fact that 5G accounted for just 5 percent of worldwide mobile subscriptions by the end of 2020, according to GlobalData research, Ericsson’s 2021 Mobility Report suggests that if uptake continues at the current rate, it is still on track to be the world’s fasted adopted network technology. In fact, it predicts that 5G coverage will reach around 60 percent of the world’s population and carry 53 percent of mobile data traffic by 2026, with 3.5 billion 5G-connected devices. 

As 5G uptake grows, so does the opportunity for B2B technology companies to utilize this, not only in their products and business operations, but also to support their marketing. While it is still early days for 5G, thinking about its future potential to aid marketing and improve customer experience can ensure that businesses are in the best position to act when the time is right, and benefit from being among the first to harness its potential.

Key benefits of 5G for customer experience

Offering a great customer experience throughout all stages of the buyer’s journey is vital for successful marketing. Technology is a crowded marketplace, so providing customers with a consistent, positive impression of the brand through every interaction is an effective way for businesses to stand out from competitors.

5G offers some key benefits for helping to improve the customer experience. These should be at the front of mind for technology businesses when considering future marketing options.

The faster connection speed will provide possibly the greatest opportunity to improve customer experience. Current typical speeds for 5G are around 10 times faster than 4G, at around 100Mbps compared to 10Mbps, with the future potential for up to 1Gbps as the network technology and infrastructure improves. Businesses will be able to utilize this quicker connection to deliver richer downloadable content on websites, and to provide new creative solutions to engage customers.

With more people owning and using multiple devices in public spaces, reliable connectivity has been a challenge in recent years. Having a significant number of connected devices in one area can cause excessive lag, making internet loading times slower. 5G will help solve this problem by enabling the number of devices able to be connected in the same vicinity to increase tenfold. The resulting lower latency will enable a greater amount of data to be delivered to devices faster, providing people with the ability to consume far more online content when out and about.

Greater accessibility will not only come from the improved coverage, but 5G’s ability to deliver quality connectivity in previously challenging scenarios. For example, the technology can support devices traveling at speeds of up to 310mph, compared to 218mph for 4G. This means that users will eventually have excellent internet connection even on high-speed trains. This will allow customers greater accessibility to the network, not just geographically but also on the move.

5G marketing opportunities for tech companies 

With patchy coverage, buffering and lag times no longer a problem, 5G will remove many existing barriers to marketing. While mobile traffic to B2B websites remains lower than for B2C, the flexibility and reliability offered by 5G is likely to see this gap closing. B2B customers will be able to access business websites more easily on their commute, while working offsite or traveling to meetings, and in other scenarios where reliance on WiFi coverage will no longer chain to them to their desks. There is also likely to be an increase in companies providing staff with 5G connected devices to greater enable this and increase productivity and customer service. Combine this with the shift to more flexible working as a legacy of Covid-19, and a new way of working is appearing.

One development that may come as a result of this change in working styles is the integration of video conferencing into calls to action (CTAs). The ability for businesses to offer potential customers on-demand video calls will be made possible by the improved call quality available via 5G, and make it easier for companies to engage with existing and target customers worldwide. Online CTAs typically include filling out web forms, sending emails or engaging in online chat, whereas video conferencing normally involves the longer, more formal process of booking meetings. 

For technology companies, offering instant video conferencing as an additional form of engagement will build on the growing trend for virtual meetings and make the process more informal. It will offer customers quick access to discuss products and services with specialist staff rather than carrying out online research then waiting to receive further information.   

Increased speeds and connectivity through 5G will also allow businesses to embrace more videography. 5G will enable mobile website visitors to load and view high-resolution videos without sacrificing website page performance and loading times, avoiding buffering and quality issues typically associated with video. This is good news for marketers, as according to a recent statistic, audiences retain up to 95 percent of a message when delivered via video, compared to 10 percent when in written format.

Video is increasingly being used in B2B environments, with 59 percent of executives stating they would rather watch a video than read text. It provides a quicker way to convey information to time-poor customers, and is being adopted by technology companies as a way to explain complex concepts and break down technical details into an easy-to-digest format. 

It has been suggested that the 5G rollout will lead to fewer people using ad-blockers to improve their browsing experience, as images and videos will load much quicker thanks to the better download speeds. Combine this with ads loading faster, and this provides a chance for marketers to reach previously unattainable audiences with high-quality, tailored advertising. There will also be significant opportunity to maximize marketing engagement through increased personalization.

Personalization is already a key trend in digital marketing, which enables businesses to develop a deeper relationship with their customers. A surge in the IoT and the resulting synchronization between connected devices will provide more user data than ever before. Add AI, automation and edge computing into the mix, and 5G will provide the perfect environment for large-scale data collection. 

This increased customer data will enable marketers to potentially access far more specific audience information, including real-time analytics, allowing for more detailed, accurate segmentation and marketing personalization. This is ideal for technology companies, as B2B products and services are often suited to very specific customer requirements or targeted at particular job roles or areas of expertise. Greater personalization will enable technology businesses to ensure their advertising reaches the target audience with improved accuracy, improving engagement and conversion.

As just one example, the combination of 5G’s low latency and the impact of edge computing will allow for AI-powered advertisements to change responsively to audience activity, keeping users engaged by delivering targeted messaging and resulting in more positive brand recall. 

Similarly, integrating virtual reality and augmented reality into B2B advertising and video will now become viable options, where user actions or movements trigger seamless changes in the experience. This is a significant opportunity for technology companies wanting to provide demonstrations of how their products or platforms might integrate into the customer’s workplace, or to highlight product features in detail. For many technology companies, tradeshows have traditionally been a key marketing channel and one of the best ways to demonstrate products or service offerings to potential customers. The more immersive experiences made possible by 5G may provide significant opportunity to complement this, and reach an even wider audience.

These types of sophisticated solutions can be delivered over 5G without the challenge of quality loss or increased load times, providing a better experience for customers and driving better advertising impact. As a result, designers will be able to create a consistent experience for customers, wherever they are – physically or virtually – and on whatever device they are using.

Considering 5G in your long-term marketing strategy 

Regardless of the products or services offered, 5G marketing solutions will offer the opportunity for technology businesses to position themselves as forward-thinking, well-rounded organizations at the forefront of their field. With many brands struggling to stand out from the crowd, engaging with the latest technologies such as 5G will not only provide a better customer experience but also an opportunity to demonstrate the organization’s expertise and understanding of industry trends. 

A Salesforce survey in February 2020 found that 90 percent of marketing professionals worldwide expect 5G to have an impact on their industry over the next decade. While 5G coverage is still in the roll-out stage, and with uptake rapid but still a long way from overtaking 4G, the best option for businesses is to simply watch for 5G marketing possibilities and get a feel for the new options in the pipeline. 

Thinking ahead to the potential marketing opportunities on the horizon, businesses should consider adopting a hybrid approach that considers both 4G and 5G environments when creating long-term strategies. This will ensure they are investing time and money in the right areas and ensure they are well-positioned to adapt their marketing in line with future 5G developments.

Rob Cullum, Lead Consultant and Co-Founder, Motion Marketing.

Rob Cullum is the Lead Consultant and Co-Founder of specialist B2B technology marketing agency Motion Marketing.