Mobile usage continues to gain momentum with consumers, but for many companies, mobile strategy growth remains stagnant. While marketers across industries understand that they must create campaigns that engage users across all emerging platforms, most have yet to determine how to incorporate mobile into their overarching strategies.

Aquent's recent study, "Planning for Mobile Marketing Success Through Smart Staffing," explores the struggles today's marketers face during the early stages of mobile adoption and development. Commissioned by Forrester Research, Inc., the survey polled 155 senior-level marketing and IT professionals who are influential in the hiring decisions for mobile marketing, to evaluate how they approach mobile budgets and planning, and how companies are adjusting their staffing to support mobile program growth. While marketers indicated a struggle with accurately staffing for mobile campaigns, few organizations have a full-time employee dedicated to driving mobile marketing initiatives. The study revealed three distinct observations:


  1. No clear, established organizational model or set of responsibilities for mobile employees currently exists.
  2. Demonstrating the ROI of mobile in order to make the case for new hires stands as the biggest challenge facing marketers today.
  3. Marketers typically rely on multiple agencies for mobile, yet they neglect to manage these relationships at maximum efficiency.

The following statistics explore what's going on behind the scenes as marketers enter the early stages of mobile adoption and implementation:

  • Forty-five percent of all U.S. online adults are considered "SuperConnecteds" because they use mobile Internet at least weekly, downloading and using applications and consuming news and information on the go.
  • Today, respondents are more likely to spend $1 million to $5 million on mobile, with 60 percent of those polled expecting their budgets to increase so they may invest in mobile websites, email campaigns, and applications.
  • One-third of respondents plan to hire more full-time mobile-dedicated employees and full-time mobile-supporting employees, while one-quarter plan to hire more contract employees within the next six months.
  • When it comes to the types of external agencies marketers currently use to assist in their mobile marketing initiatives, 63 percent use traditional brand agencies and 53 percent use full-service interactive agencies. While only 45 percent currently use mobile marketing specialist agencies, 29 percent plan to employ such agencies in the next six months.

Marketers, however, face numerous barriers when it comes to mobile growth, all which hinder the ability to advance their strategy: demonstrating ROI (42 percent), reaching the right audience (34 percent), data security (34 percent), technological and infrastructure development (26 percent), and integrating mobile strategy with other marketing channels (26 percent). These struggles often begin as small issues that leave a lasting impact on the company's overall approach:

  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents have to prove mobile marketing's positive ROI before they can hire more mobile marketing staff members.
  • While 85 percent of marketers with strategies one year old or younger rely on full-time employees (FTEs) to manage several areas of responsibilities, including mobile, 52 percent say these mobile-supporting FTEs are responsible for technical implementation and 37 percent say they are responsible for setting strategy.
  • Seventy percent of those polled employ contract employees as part of their mobile programs, primarily for tasks such as application design and development or mobile display advertising.

Key takeaway: Marketers are currently trapped in an endless loop—they need to increase staff in order to boost their mobile capabilities, but they cannot make any hiring decisions until they demonstrate ROI. However, companies that focus on establishing their understanding of the mobile channel and its unique opportunities put themselves in a much better position to build solid strategies. To truly succeed in the future, mobile marketers must understand marketing fundamentals and transfer this knowledge to the mobile sphere. In fact, 43 percent of those polled said that their most successful internal mobile marketing staff members had traditional brand marketing backgrounds, while 37 percent said their successful employees were formerly general digital marketers with another brand. These workers come into the mix, bringing with them an educated background that helps to erase all doubts about new hires, for their understanding may be the key to pushing mobile strategy into its next phase.