Mobile: Reap What You Sow

It seems like there might be a bit of a mismatch between what companies want to do with mobile and what they’re actually doing. Or, to put a finer point on it, what they’re capable of doing right now.

And mostly, it seems to be a matter of cash.

According to Jeffrey Hammond, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, speaking at Adobe’s Digital Publishing Summit in NYC, if you’re spending less than about $2 million on effecting your multichannel mobile strategy, you might not be doling out enough to create the kind of immersive, engaging experiences consumers have come to expect. Some Fortune 500 companies and leaders in the space are spending as much as $50 million on mobile. (Gulp.)

Mobile isn’t a channel to just toss 5% of your budget at and then smile to yourself and say, ‘Ah, that’s taken care of. When’s lunch?’

“You need to make sure the funding is there,” Hammond said.

The average spending on mobile projects by large companies is about $5 million, but a lot of organizations out there are spending $250,000 or less. For that amount, Hammond said, you can probably do a bit of mobile optimization for your mobile websites and that’s about it—and you probably won’t see the same kind of ROI as a big-spending, mobile-focused brand like Marriott. Spending mad mobile money doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get sizable return but, according to Forrester, 8% of companies generally see between 10 and 25% of their revenue come in through mobile.

Interactivity, zoom, touch sensitivity—all that stuff is cool in an app, but the future holds something a bit bigger than that; what Hammond calls “advanced contextual applications” with the goal of total engagement. An app like that taps into databases of historical information; it takes things a step further by connecting into the Internet of things. Think Google Glass. Think John Deere.

Every piece of John Deere machinery is now decked out with internal technology that allows it to track moisture conditions, humidity, overall conditions in the field, long-term weather patterns—all that good stuff. Then that information is recorded and fed back into John Deere’s system to give the brand a real understanding of what’s going down on the ground. John Deere can use that data to make pertinent recommendations to farmers about how to use its equipment better, about optimal fertilizer choices—about the things those farmers really care about.

Farmers, office workers, college students—the majority of U.S. adults are online, 25% of whom are using three or more devices to connect. While it’s true that the highest percentage of online adults tend to be Gen X and Yers right now, other age groups are coming on the scene, too. Online adults are most likely to check their laptop in the office, consult a mobile phone outside the home, and then spend the evening sitting on the sofa with a tablet on their respective laps while watching TV. (I’m losing track of how many screens we’re even up to now.)

“That’s the multichannel problem you face right there,” Hammond said. “Because when you apply this to mobile we see increasingly that the way folks are getting online is changing and becoming multichannel.”

It’s an issue marketers will have to consider when creating a mobile experience for their brand.

“You need to be able to track [users] across devices and create a journey that anticipates them moving from device to device,” Hammond said. “Mobile is something that has to be part of the overall plan. What we’re seeing today is really the move from the mobile channel to the omnichannel.”

So, start saving.

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