Commentary

CMOs Must Get Mobile Out Of Its 'Channel' Ghetto

Forrester continues to beat the drum for mobile as something much deeper and disruptive than just another new channel. Reiterating themes that began with the publication last year of its "Mobile Mind Shift" book, the consultancy issued a report this week outlining just how misguided many mobile marketing strategies are. Urging CMOs to “Own Mobile To Own Your Customer,” the report included a Q2 2014 survey of marketing executives that showed how undeveloped their mobile approaches really are.

A large number of CMOs (44%) admit that their mobile services are merely scaled-down versions of their overall digital service. By merely extending the Web onto devices, these companies are missing the opportunities inherent to mobile devices. The real problem here is that mobile is being seen and organizationally located as a subset of digital. “These teams use mobile to support the digital business – not the broader business,” the report argues.

More to the point, marketers are employing all the wrong metrics if they want to make the best use of mobile. In fact, fewer than half of marketers surveyed even have separate mobile objectives and KPIs. Less than 20% measure app speed and performance. Most measurements are aimed at top-line, shallow indicators like numbers of downloads and active users. Far and away the most cited metric for mobile among both marketers and digital business executives is traffic to mobile sites or apps. The problem, Forrester argues, is that none of these metrics are tied to real business outcomes.

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There is some indication that marketers are talking a much better game in mobile than they actually play. While 60% of those surveyed said they get the support of their upper management for mobile projects, only 35% believe they have the budget to fund mobile. There is a big skills gap as well, with only 28% of mobile execs saying they have the skills to build and manage their own apps. And only 32% feel they have reliable partners to help.

Forrester argues that ghetto-izing mobile cuts it off from its integral role at retail, in customer service and CRM, as part of non-digital ads and promotions, etc. Ending standalone mobile teams and integrating digital and non-digital teams are starts in the right direction, the company recommends.

I think Forrester is on to a few things here that are very important. At this point in its evolution, the digital roots of mobile are as much of a hindrance as anything else, leading us to under-imagine what the medium is and can be. Intellectually, most in the field understand this, but the inertia of digital still drags development and expectations back to a default position of mobile being the Internet writ small.

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