Mobile marketing ROI on hold for most, but email still rules

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan January 7, 2014
Mobile marketing may be top of mind but it's not yet delivering ROI for the majority of organisations. On the other hand, email remains alive and kicking.

In my end of year round-up of 2013 I tentatively suggested that a jolly good New Year’s Resolution for vendors would be to stop trotting out that 2013 staple from Gartner that CMOs are all set to be the new IT decision making powerhouses.

Seven days into 2014 and what do I see on this report sent over from Exact Target, now part of :

According to Gartner analyst Laura McLellan, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017.

Oh well, I suppose nobody sticks to New Year Resolutions, least of all ones that are set for them by other people!

Despite this, there are some interesting 2014 scene-setting statistics to come out the report - State of Marketing - which polls marketers about their budgets, priorities, channels, metrics, and strategies for the coming year.

The top three priorities identified in the 2014 report are:

  • Driving conversion rates.
  • Increasing and improving brand awareness.
  • Collecting, measuring and using behavior-based data.

The study concludes:

A focus on conversion rates comes as no surprise, as more and more marketing teams work to align with their sales teams and prove value through concrete results.

It also highlights that:

Respondents across almost every level of the organization also identified brand awareness as a top priority—indicating that brand is still a core focus, even beyond the CMO.

The good news: 98% of marketers plan to increase or maintain their budgets for 2014. (Of course, in a study commissioned by a firm selling its wares to marketers, it would have surprising to discover a less than positive prognosis.)

As to where this spending is going to go, the top budget magnets are:

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 14.37.39

Turning to that eternal question of how to measure the success of marketing initiatives, the Exact study found three measurements well ahead of the pack:

  • Conversion Rate - i.e. sales directly attributed to digital marketing campaigns - cited by 67% of respondents.
  • Engagement Rate - i.e. opens and clicks - cited by 64%
  • Return on Investment - cited by 61%

These were comfortably ahead of metrics such as lifetime customer value, audience list growth and social activity.

The top three lifecycle marketing campaigns that marketers currently use are newsletter (66%), promotional (61%), and web opt-in (54%). The next highest utilized campaign, transaction (42%), is 12% lower than web opt-in usage.

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Hardly surprising again is the conclusion that email is alive and well as a marketing tool, with reasons for this cited as:
  • Email indirectly impacts your business performance (42%)
  • Email is a critical enabler of products/services your business provides (42%)
  • Your business’s primary revenue source is directly linked to email operations (16%)

Other email-y things you need to know:

  • 58% of marketers will increase their email spend in 2014.
  • 88% of marketers believe that email marketing does or will produce ROI.
  • 59% have a dedicated email marketing team.
  • 49% are sending more than 500,000 emails annually.

Obviously given the vital role of email then, everyone’s out there practising responsive design like there’s no tomorrow, yes?

Er, not so much it seems. The study reports:

Despite growing mobile adoption, when asked how often they use mobile responsive design in emails, 42% of survey respondents said rarely or never. These numbers seem especially low considering that 41% of respondents also said that 31-50% of their subscribers open their emails via a mobile device, and 24% report that their emails are opened on a mobile device more than 51% of the time.

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Another uncomfortable reality at present: mobile marketing may be high up on the agenda of fashionable necessities, but it’s not delivering ROI for many just yet. Only 29% of respondents said their mobile marketing was producing ROI, while 16% declared it never will. Some 51% hedged their bets saying that mobile marketing will produce ROI…eventually.

So with all that in mind, what to do, what to do?

For email marketing, the advice is:

  • Take inventory of your programs across all four lifecycle stages—acquire, onboard, engage, and retain. Identify gaps across the lifecycle stages and implement campaigns to ensure that you have some form of engagement with your customers during each of these critical stages.
  • Roll out responsive design.
  • Determine how many of your subscribers open your emails on a mobile device. If you have a substantial amount of mobile opens—like most marketers reported—put a responsive design plan into action right away.

Despite the relatively unenthused response to mobile marketing ROI, don’t ignore it. Rather you should see it as a largely untapped opportunity and:

  • Map your broader marketing strategies alongside your mobile strategy to determine areas where the two can work together.
  • Bring your email and mobile efforts together as a way to see an instant return and pilot the success of mobile integration.


An interesting combination of the ‘pretty much what you’d expect’ with some nice nuggets of information that trigger some pause for thought.

It’s worth a read and sets an interesting benchmark for measuring the marketing successes and failures that are to come over the next 12 months.



Graphics: sourced from State of Marketing report

Disclosure: At time of writing, is a premium partner of diginomica. 

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