CMOs Bullish on Mobile Marketing Spending, Not So Hot on Current Performance

September 1, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Brand Metrics | Customer Engagement | Digital | Marketing Budgets | Mobile Phone | Return on Investment | Social Media | Tablet

CMOSurvey-Mobile-Share-Marketing-Budgets-Sept2015 CMOs are ready to boost their mobile marketing budgets, and there are signs they have already been doing so, according to results from the latest edition of the biannual CMO Survey [pdf] from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. CMOs responding to the study predicted that mobile would occupy 15.6% share of their marketing budgets in 3 years’ time, up from the 6% currently allocated.

Besides the strong increase forecast, the results are interesting as they indicate that mobile marketing spending is already growing quickly. Back in February, when the CMO Survey’s previous edition was released, CMOs estimated that mobile accounted for just 3.2% share of overall budgets and would capture 9% share in 3 years. So with mobile now capturing 6% of budgets, it appears that marketers are following through on their spending plans. That has not always been the case in this study, at least when examining social media budgets.

B2C companies will lead the charge in mobile spending, according to the latest iteration of the study. Currently, B2C product companies are allocating the largest share (8.6%) of their budgets to mobile, followed by B2C services companies (7.3%). Both expect mobile to rise to almost one-fifth (19.8%) of budgets in the next 3 years.

By comparison, B2B companies (both product and services) are currently allocating about 5% of their budgets to mobile, with product companies slightly more bullish on the 3-year forecast than their services counterparts (14.4% and 13%, respectively). For more details about why B2B is lagging on mobile marketing spending, see MarketingCharts’ latest study, the 2015 B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report.

It appears that CMO’ enthusiasm for mobile spending is based more on shifts in customer behavior than on the actual performance of their current programs. Indeed, asked to rate the performance of their company’s mobile marketing activities on a 7-point scale (where 1 is poor and 7 is excellent), CMOs failed to manage a middling grade even for their highest-rated activities, customer engagement (3.6) and delivering their brand message (3.5). Mobile marketing is tending to underwhelm even more for customer retention (3.1), customer acquisition (2.9), sales (2.7) and profits (2.6).


A somewhat similar dynamic has played out with regards to social media, where budget optimism has been high in recent years even as ROI has been difficult to measure.

In the latest survey, CMOs estimated that social currently occupies 10.7% of their marketing budgets. Last year, respondents estimated that social would capture 13.2% of their budgets by now, so enthusiasm continues to outpace actual spending levels for the time being. That enthusiasm isn’t waning, though, as social is now predicted to receive almost one-quarter (23.8%) of the marketing budget in the next 5 years.

ROI proof remains elusive, though. Overall, just 15% of respondents said they’re able to prove the impact of social media on their business quantitatively, a figure which hasn’t changed in at least a couple of years. It’s worth noting that B2C product companies stand out in their confidence here: 30% say they’ve proven the impact of social quantitatively. It’s probably not a coincidence that B2C product companies are also spending the most on social (13.7% of current budgets) and have the most bullish outlook on social spending (30.1% of budgets in the next 5 years). Of note, B2B product companies spend the least on social and the least capability for measuring its impact quantitatively. More data concerning B2B marketers and social media can be found in the aforementioned MarketingCharts study.

B2C product companies are also the most confident (and B2B product companies the least) about their social media capabilities. Overall, on a 7-point scale (where 7 is again excellent), here’s how CMOs overall rate their social media abilities:

  • Developing social media strategies (4.1);
  • Connecting marketing strategies and social media strategies (4.0);
  • Executing social media strategies (4.0);
  • Learning about what works and doesn’t work for social media (3.7);
  • Hiring people to perform social media activities (3.5);
  • Measuring the success of social media strategies (3.5);
  • Training people to perform social media activities (3.4); and
  • Managing external social media partners and agencies (3.3).

It appears that, just as with mobile marketing, there’s room for improvement. It will be interesting to see how those numbers change as the budgets allocated to mobile and social media continue to increase.

About the Data: The CMO Survey is administered twice a year via an Internet survey. The August 2015 survey was the 14th administration of The CMO Survey. The results are based on responses from 255 top US marketers at Fortune 1000 and Forbes Top 200 companies as well as top marketers who are AMA members or Duke University Alumni and Friends. The survey was fielded from July 14-August 2, 2015.


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