Summits Yellow

Two-thirds of Marketers Struggling to Measure ROI

Tim Maytom

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67 per cent of marketers say they can't measure ROI on mobile, with just 27 per cent confident that their mobile campaigns are profitable, according to new data from Forrester.

The figures come from a new report on linking mobile and offline marketing closer together, and reveal that despite mobile's growing power, many marketers still struggle to place it in a larger context of their overall marketing efforts.

"I find it amazing that despite the consumer-led revolution, marketers haven't really integrated mobile into the marketing-mix," said Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst for marketing & strategy at Forrester, and author of the report. "The new marketing mantra for the past two or three years was to become 'mobile-first' but the sad reality is that a good chunk of marketers (about a third of them) are still stuck at the 'shrink and squeeze' stage where they mostly scale content down for smaller screens."

The report highlights the impact mobile has had on behaviour, with 69 per cent of US online adults using mobile in-store while shopping, and 32 per cent regularly second-screening while watching TV. It also notes how mobile's influence is only likely to rise as technologies like the smart home, augmented reality and IoT position mobile as a hub for consumer behaviour.

Despite the huge amount of time spent interacting with mobile, the report found that most marketers are still approaching it as a subdigital channel, with 47 per cent considering mobile either 'nice to have' or only a subset of their digital approach. Meanwhile, print represents just four per cent of total media consumption time, but commands 16 per cent of advertising spend.

"The majority of the consumer packaged goods companies we work with allocate a very small percentage – often just two to five per cent – of their marketing budgets, including above and below the line spending, to mobile," said Bhanu Bhardwaj, senior vice president at IRI.

Much of this can be blamed on an inability or unwillingness to accurately measure the impact of mobile, not just on traditional digital KPIs like clicks or sales, but also on broader marketing objectives like brand lift or customer satisfaction. Only 15 per cent of marketers surveyed measured mobile-influenced sales, and only nine per cent measured traffic to their physical locations.

Thomas Husson Forrester

Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst for marketing & strategy at Forrester



"Some marketing vendors too have been relatively slow in enabling marketers to properly measure the impact of mobile on offline and in measuring the overall impact mobile should have on the marketing-mix," said Husson. "It is still relatively early days on that front, but it should not prevent marketers from having bolder marketing ambtions and from starting to measure the impact of digital on offline, leveraging mobile contextual data."

The report called for marketers to truly embrace mobile's full potential, both by rethinking how they measure the total impact of mobile ads, and by using mobile and the data it generates to augment and improve traditional marketing campaigns.

Offline attribution will be key to understanding the impact of mobile on sales. The report points to new solutions by Google, Facebook, Foursquare and Shopkick as steps forward in connecting online and offline behaviour via mobile, as well as using data streams like CRM, credit card information and beacons to link together behaviours and advertising efforts.

"There is huge value in aggregating different sources of data, and for us the end goal is to showcase the value of digital advertising," said Jason Morse, vice president of mobile at Criteo.

Location intelligence platforms such as Blis, Factual, PlaceIQ and xAd are also crucial in providing insights into consumers' offline behaviours, while emerging physical data management platforms that aggregate offline data could soon have a big impact.

Ultimately, understanding the true ROI of mobile marketing relies on seeing the channel's full potential, and understanding how it is changing the way we interact with the digital world. Mobile marketing efforts shouldn't just be a race for clicks, but an attempt to tell a complete brand story, and understand every step of the customer journey.

"Savvy marketers think of mobile as a unique opportunity to transform the entire customer experience, including the offline experience," said Husson. "They measure the extent to which mobile helps improving the customer experience, drives traffic to store and generates incremental sales."