Meh! Marketers And Agencies Underwhelmed By Mobile Executions

Among the many revealing metrics in eConsultancy’s new study of marketers’ and agency attitudes toward their own mobile programs, this one stands out as most indicative of a general malaise and uncertainty about whether companies are making wise investments in mobile.  Of 375 respondents, 44% rated their mobile Web site customer experience as average (5 on a scale of 10). About 41% all together rated it somewhere above average. Hey -- and this is a poll of marketers and agency execs. When are they ever reticent about hyping themselves?

Seriously, however, in surveying executives who are at various stages of investment in mobile programs, the survey reveals that dollars may be preceding sense. To wit, among the average organizations with mobile programs, 58% said their mobile offerings sites were meeting expectations, but only 7% said they had exceeded expectations. Many respondents either admitted the sites were not living up to expectations or that those goals had been poorly stated to begin with, or went unmeasured anyway.

When asked to state the goals of the mobile programs, marketers for mobile-first organization (where the majority of customers are coming from devices) ranked priorities in this order.

1.  Acquire new customers

2.  Get new revenue streams

3.  Brand engagement and loyalty

4.  Need to stay competitive

5.  Cost deflection

 

Marketers from more mainstream companies with mobile components prioritized differently:

1.  Brand engagement and loyalty

2.  Need to stay competitive

3.  Acquire new customers

4.  New revenue stream

5.  Cost deflection

 

The legacy brands are still most concerned about shoring up the base, preventing competitive leakage, and being available. The mobile-first companies are taking the lead in focusing efforts on bottom-line revenue and growth objectives. Interestingly, even in this age of HTML5 and a wave of interest in the mobile Web, marketers for mobile-first companies are significantly more focused on apps than their mainstream counterparts. While 82% of mobile-first companies have a tablet app and 92% have a smartphone app, only 37% of other brands have tablet apps and 47% have phone apps. Mobile-first companies are extremely bullish on the app model, with 69% saying they see apps as more important to their business than mobile Web now, and 66% seeing it remain even over the next two years.

One of the problems for most mainstream companies is that they still can’t figure out where to put mobile within their organization. About a third see it in marketing and only 15% have a dedicated mobile team, but it also ends up in e-commerce and product groups. For mobile-first companies the place of mobile is quite clear, either on the product team (34%) or at senior management (33%).

Agencies, as is their wont, have a decidedly mixed view of how clients really are faring on mobile. Of the 240 agency executives in the U.S.-based pool of respondents, only 54% felt that companies had a strategy for their mobile programs. Many feel that clients are investing in mobile simply to be there without enough of an idea of how to measure and focus efforts. Most agencies feel clients have not invested enough in measurement and analytics intended to gain an understanding user behavior on devices more clearly.

Agencies were less uniform in their view of where they themselves put the most importance in mobile, with only 37% feeling native installed apps have the greatest value to marketers, vs. 33% who disagreed. And only 39% felt that HTML sites and hybrid apps would replace native apps. The one thing they all (89%) did agree on is that mobile site visitors behave differently from desktop site visitors -- a reality that some of the agencies felt was lost on clients.   

If the money going into mobile from companies is still coming in advance of understanding, that won’t stop in 2013. eConsultancy’s survey of marketers found that 20% of mainstream companies and 28% of mobile-first companies plan to invest significantly more this year and another 42% and 44%, respectively, will spend somewhat more.

The study, “Mobile Sophistication and Strategy,” was fielded by eConsultancy and Kontagent earlier this year with marketers and agency executives in the U.S. 

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