The center of gravity for personal computing may have moved to mobile devices, but most companies are still not able to determine if their mobile apps and content are helping them. That’s a key finding in a new report, "Mobile Sophistication and Strategy" published by Econsultancy.

The study, released by mobile research firm Kontagent in conjunction with digital marketer Econsultancy, found that two-thirds of companies have not yet defined a way to determine if the mobile experiences they are creating are effectively reaching their goals, and are therefore acting ad-hoc. Only a third of the 1300 product and marketing executives surveyed said their companies track and report performance of their mobile apps.

Firsters Versus Mainstreamers

CEO and co-founder of Kontagent, Jeff Tseng noted in a statement that “many companies fall into the trap of believing they need a consistent mobile presence, but fall short of taking the proper steps to ensure the experience is effective.” He added that, with mobile adoption “outpacing any historical adoption trend,” the businesses that will succeed in this evolving environment will not only “build outstanding experiences,” but will use the data to measure and improve their mobile products.

It seems as if mobile has become so important in such a short period of time that companies appear to be scrambling to keep up. About 65% of respondents said their mobile development budgets will increase this year, but that they are creating these experiences without a clear strategy or without a plan to analyze and utilize the data so they can build on what works. Only a quarter of brands have a well-defined plan for mobile.

There is a clear demarcation however, between companies that the report calls “mobile-first,” which get most of their traffic or revenue from mobile visitors, and those that are “mobile mainstream,” where mobile is part of a larger mix. Sixty-four percent of mobile-first companies have a long-term, well-defined mobile strategy, while only 25% of mobile mainstream ones do.

Differing Goals

At the mobile-first firms, senior management or product teams are leading the planning, while marketing is in the driver’s seat at the mobile-mainstream companies. Additionally, nearly 70% of mobile-first brands are focused on apps instead of mobile-targeted websites, while only 32% of mobile-mainstreamers emphasize apps. The report also found that key departments -- management, marketing and technology -– are collaborating to set goals and strategies at 71% of mobile-firsters, but only at 45 percent of mobile-mainstreamers.

The goals also differ in the two kinds of companies. Mobile-firsters’ top two goals are acquiring new customers and building new revenue streams, while mobile-mainstreamers are focused on brand engagement/loyalty and the need to stay competitive.

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From "Mobile Sophistication and Strategy"

As might be expected, gaming companies are the most sophisticated, mobile-wise, such as using the free-to-play model to obtain in-app user data that feeds back into optimizing the user experience. The report found that retailers are the next most sophisticated, followed by travel companies and, at the back of the pack, financial services firms.

Faking It or Making It?

Kontagent Chief Marketing Officer Dan Kimball pointed out in the report that, “just because consumers are on mobile devices doesn’t mean brands that launch apps or mobile websites are guaranteed to reap the benefits.” It’s the companies that are “deliberate in developing a mobile strategy” and dedicated to the mobile market that are successful, he said.

“Everyone else,” Kimball added, “is just kind of faking it.”