Hiring (or Not) & Planning For Mobile Marketing

According to Aquent, in a Forrester Consulting commissioned study, to evaluate how companies are adjusting their staffing to support mobile program growth, there is a mismatch between current hiring practices and organizational needs. 

Key findings from the study include:

  • There is no clear, established organizational model or set of responsibilities for mobile employees
  • Demonstrating the ROI of mobile is the biggest challenge facing companies who want to hire in-house mobile resources
  • The vast majority of marketers rely on multiple agencies for mobile, but those relationships aren’t being managed as efficiently as they could be

Consumer adoption of mobile technology is increasing extremely rapidly. Marketers understand that this has opened up a new touchpoint through which they can engage their customers, but while mobile budgets and programs are on the upswing, they don’t yet come close to matching consumer enthusiasm, says the report.

  • By the end of 2012, more than half of US online adults will own smartphones. Today, 45% of US online adults fall into a category that Forrester calls “SuperConnecteds”: people who use the mobile Internet at least weekly and who download and use applications and consume news and information on their smartphones
  • Investment levels vary within companies, but survey respondents are more likely to spend a total of $1 million to $5 million on mobile today, and 60% of them expect their budgets to increase. That budget is being spent on a variety of tactics as well; within a year, almost all of the respondents will have mobile websites, email campaigns, and apps, and more than half will be using every tactic we asked about save mobile gaming.
  • Companies are turning to a variety of internal resources to support mobile programs . . . This increased investment in mobile requires an increase in support, but companies are not staffing to meet this need. Internally, there is a smattering of full-time mobile-dedicated employees, fulltime mobile-supporting employees, and contract or freelance employees.
  • Marketers still rely primarily on agencies and part-timers. Mobile strategies are still young: More than one-third of respondents said that their company has had a mobile strategy for just two years, and another one-third have even less experience with the channel. Many firms are turning to their agencies to help them navigate this opportunity. Currently, respondents work with an average of three external agencies for mobile marketing; one-quarter of them use anywhere from four to 15 or more. And these agencies are only working on execution, as the majority of companies are working with their traditional brand agency to help them incorporate mobile into their overall plans

Mobile Budget Projection for 2013 (vs. 2012; % of respondents)


% of Respondents

Increase significantly


Increase slightly


Stay the same


Decrease slightly


Decrease significantly


Don’t know


Source: Forrester, September 2012 (Release 2/2013)

 While the limited investment in mobile is surprising in light of the pace of consumer adoption, it’s easy to understand the slow movement toward large-scale mobile programs when the challenges companies face are considered. The No. 1 problem for marketers in mobile today is demonstrating ROI. This is followed by a related problem: understanding whether programs are reaching the right audience. Two technology challenges are next: data security and infrastructure development. Rounding out the top five is perhaps the slipperiest challenge of all: integrating mobile programs with other marketing channels. With blanket problems like these to solve, staffing can seem like a micro issue, but it is in fact part and parcel of moving beyond these macro challenges. Specifically:

  • Marketers must demonstrate ROI to get budget for mobile programs and approval to hire full-time mobile marketers. 68% of respondents indicated that they have to prove that mobile marketing has a positive ROI before they can hire more mobile marketing staff
  • Integration of mobile is a major problem — one that gets solved by hiring a mobile FTE. Their primary responsibilities will be setting the overall mobile marketing strategy and developing the strategy to incorporate mobile in other marketing programs. 55% of respondents who have mobile FTEs count integration of mobile as one of the key responsibilities.
  • Early-stage mobile marketers are staffed to address issues other than ROI and strategy. 85% of marketers whose strategies are one year old or younger rely on full-time employees for whom mobile is just one of several areas of responsibility. Of those, 52% of respondents say their mobile-supporting FTEs are responsible for technical implementation, while only 37% say they’re responsible for setting strategy.
  • Early-stage mobile marketers are using agencies to answer the ROI and audience questions. 98% of companies with less than a year of mobile marketing experience use agencies to support their programs. Of those, 59% rely on their agencies to conduct audience research and 39% turn to them for data collection and analysis
  • Managing these important vendor relationships also typically falls to mobile-supporting FTEs. 44% of marketers with young mobile strategies rely on these employees with many responsibilities to manage the relationship with their agencies
  • Proving ROI is the No. 1 challenge, both with mobile overall and with securing approval to increase mobile headcount. And the fifth greatest overall challenge with mobile is integration with other marketing channels, a responsibility that the majority of companies gives to a mobile dedicated FTE. But companies can’t hire that mobile-dedicated FTE until they’ve proven the ROI. It’s a vicious cycle, says the report

Biggest Challenges with Mobile Marketing


% of Respondents



Reaching correct audience


Data security


Technology/infrastructure development


Integrating mobile strategy with other marketing


Understanding interaction across channels


Uncertainty of success


Lack of budget


Legal issues


Internal conflicts


Forrester, September 2012 (Release 2/2013)

Key considerations from the study according to the report:

  • Because marketers have become much better at directly measuring their online programs, many hope and expect that taking their existing spreadsheets and adding a column for mobile will be sufficient. But everything from the mechanics of measurement to the data points that are collected can be markedly different in mobile, depending on the tactics being employed. 
  • The data work isn’t done once a program has been measured. Marketers must put that data back to work, combing it for insights that can be used to create better, smarter, more effective future mobile programs.
  • Learning how to optimize existing campaigns is an important step in a marketer’s evolution to mobile maturity, but it’s a step, not an endpoint, says the report.


For additional information from the full Aquent PDF file, please visit here.

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