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Making the business case for investment in mobile marketing

Author's avatar By Rob Thurner 14 Mar, 2013
Essential Essential topic

Defining the business case for a mobile strategy

I'm sure you will know from your analytics how important mobile site visits are becoming to your business. However, those of us who live and breathe mobile see the majority of companies have been slow to build mobile into their businesses. This is shown in a survey of 250 global brands by the Chief Marketing Office Council.

Amongst companies including Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, JP Morgan Chase and Unilever just 16% surveyed have developed a mobile strategy aimed at building customer engagement.  And only 14% are happy with their mobile strategy. 

On the plus side, CMOs are acting: 53% have or are dedicating a team to look at mobile and 51% are looking at how to incorporate mobile into their business through internal training and development.

Yet at the moment, the vast majority of brands have yet to optimise their sites for mobile despite clear evidence that 2013 will be the year that Internet access via mobile overtakes access via PC, and most still approach mobile in a tactical way rather than grasping the opportunity to transform their businesses with mobile and integrate mobile into their broader business strategy.

To help companies create a plan for mobile marketing I have created the Smart Insights 7 Steps to Mobile Marketing Guide - see this for details on the steps involved with creating a mobile strategy. Of course mobile marketing advocates believe that it has massive potential to improve business performance by creating a new sales channel or through making operational efficiencies. But the case for investment has to be made. Here are my recommendations on what the business case should contain.

Six steps to develop the business case for a mobile strategy

  • 1. Define the scope of mobile marketing investment

One of the difficulties with creating a mobile strategy is that it is so wide-ranging. You need to communicate to colleagues that it’s not just about a mobile site or app and that mobile technology has its own ecosystem of technologies and suppliers that you have to participate in.

Diagram shows multiple players on the mobile landscape


A diverse range of stakeholders have been working hard to monetise the mobile opportunity – device manufacturers, technology providers, digital service providers, payments providers, mobile platforms, and ad networks.

  • 2. Review current and predicted future consumer use of mobile channels

There really are no excuses for investing in mobile platforms which your customers are not using.  You need to distinguish between the ‘shiny new innovations’ which grab the headlines but are used by a tiny minority of customers and deliver poor ROI, and the mainstream channels which achieve mass interactions and repeat use.

Use analytics and advanced segments to put the business case for optimised mobile sites and SMS based loyalty programmes.

Using advanced segments in Google Analytics will help you isolate visits from different mobile devices and shows the volume and behaviour of these visits. Advanced segments are essentially a filter that can be set for each visitor type including device to understand behaviour with a specific technology. You can segment through these standard advanced segments:

  • Mobile device info (i.e. model of mobile)
  • Mobile device branding (i.e. company)
  • Service provider (i.e. network or internet service provider)
  • Mobile input selector (i.e. touchscreen or gaming)
  • Operating system (i.e. iOS or Android versions)

Other (includes screen resolution).

  • 3. Benchmark competitor use of mobile

To make your case you can also use an emotional argument to colleagues based on fear of competitors getting an edge.

Competitor benchmarking of mobile usage based on features developed and level of use of their mobile services can be effective here. You can use the techniques described in this guide. 

This is particularly important in mobile as your new generation of customers will expect a positive mobile experience.  Mobile friendly brands are perceived as innovative and fun, and well positioned to gain share of voice through social media sharing.  Mobile friendly brands also benefit from the halo effect of attracting high-calibre staff and retaining them.

  • 4. Create mobile return-on-investment models for investment options

But, how do you PROVE that investment in mobile marketing is worthwhile?

The commercial argument will be strongest if you create mobile Return on Investment (ROI) models and conversion-based models.  These should show how increasing the level of mobile visitors or conversion rate by an anticipated percentage can increase the revenue generated.

Take a look at this summary from e-commerce specialist Venda amongst its clients which you can use for your business case models. Here’s a snapshot of the types of insights to inform creation of a business case:

  • Of people who research on their mobile device, 39% go on to purchase on their desktop and 24% go onto purchase in store
  • Around 30% of consumers use their mobile in-store to inform purchases through in-store WI-Fi or scanning barcodes
  • Overall this will give rise to a 2% increment in sales from creating a mobile optimised site.

M&S has seen mobile’s contribution to online sales rise from 3% to 15% in 2 years.

  • 5. Select and prioritise mobile options and create a mobile roadmap

It’s likely you won’t be creating a single mobile case for investment for a single year. Mobile requires a long-term commitment so we recommend creating a long-term roadmap using the format contained in our Digital Strategy Toolkit. 

Debenhams, a leading UK retail adopter of mobile shared this retrospective of their mobile development over the last two years or so. Their Mobile Manager, Sarah Bailie explains: 'Integrating online in store should be top priority for all multichannel retailers looking to create an experiential and destination shopping experience.  Debenhams’ most valuable customers engage with the brand via multiple channels'.

  • 6. Write the business case

The free mobile healthcheck which I developed is a useful place to start when making the business case for mobile is to establish your current position: how user-friendly is your business is for customers accessing your content on their mobile and tablet devices?

Marketers can use the healthcheck to assess their capabilities and then present to colleagues a summary of current status and areas that need to be improved.

Auhtor's avatar

By Rob Thurner

Rob is a mobile consultant, author, trainer, and speaker with 10 years experience in the mobile sector. He is Managing Partner of Burn The Sky, the full service mobile agency which connects brands to multi-screen consumers. Rob delivers mobile consultancy and mobile talent development projects for American Express, Barclays, Barclaycard, Betfair, Carphone Warehouse, Heineken, Ladbrokes, O2, Paddy Power and Richemont. Rob runs intermediate and advanced courses for marketers of all levels of expertise across Europe and the USA. His training partners include the IDM, Econsultancy, The Knowledge Engineers, Emarketeers and the IAB Rob has written two books on Mobile Marketing best practice: The Smart Insights guide to Mobile strategy and Winning with Mobile: Creating a strategy for Mobile Marketing, Mobile,Commerce and Mobile CRM. Download from Amazon. You can connect with Rob through LinkedIn.

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