Who should decide mobile marketing’s budget?

Jul 29, 2014

According to a recent survey from Forrester Research, part of the holdup around investing in mobile marketing is the fact that the e-commerce department in many cases directs the area’s marketing spend.

The survey of 81 retailers, conducted in May and June 2014, is the latest update to the Shop.org/Forrester Research’s State of Retailing Online study.

Asked, "Which group/department owns the mobile marketing budget within your company?", 46 percent indicated Marketing and 50 percent said the e-commerce/web team. Five percent indicated "other".

"While the vast majority of retailers we surveyed say they plan to spend more on mobile marketing efforts for phones and tablets in the coming year, those figures are even higher if a department other than e-commerce owns the marketing budget," asserts Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru in the report. "Why? Because other store marketing teams are more likely to dedicate resources to efforts that drive store traffic versus just mobile shopping endeavors."

Indeed, 20 percent of retailers whose budgets were directed by marketing wanted to more than double spend around smartphones in 2014 versus 2013 and increase tablet spending by 12 percent. That compares to only three percent on smartphones and zero percent on tablets for those whose budgets were directly by e-commerce/web teams.

The study also found that many retailers are still working on the "basics" with a focus on optimizing search, e-mail and display ads.

Around some of the newer mobile marketing tactics:

  • Thirty-nine percent use QR codes or other bar-code scanning;
  • Thirty-six percent use mobile messaging (including SMS, MMS, push notifications);
  • Twenty-one percent use other location-based marketing (e.g., NFC or geofencing via GPS);
  • Eleven percent utilize "check-ins;"
  • Five percent use Beacon technology.


Should marketing or e-commerce control the mobile marketing budget? What insight does each side bring to the budgeting decision?

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8 Comments on "Who should decide mobile marketing’s budget?"

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Chris Petersen, PhD.

Should marketing or e-commerce control the mobile marketing budget? The right answer might be, “neither.”

Until mobile marketing gets dedicated focus, BUDGET and the right talent to execute, mobility is not likely to grow successfully.

Push strategies, location-based mobility and execution of NFC/geofencing require unique talent and technology not typically found in either e-commerce or traditional marketing.

Gene Detroyer

I believe we are running into silo insensibility again. Once upon a time in Marketing 101, you learned the four Ps—Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Are the four Ps now Product, Price, Place and Promotion EXCEPT when it comes to e-commerce? I think not!

Cathy Hotka

There’s still a lot of “throw it on the wall and see what sticks” going around. A portion of any mobile marketing budget should be market research. Talk to the under-30s clutching phones, and ask them what moves them. Who owns the budget is less important than determining whether the money being spent is achieving a result.

Jonathan Marek

Retailers need to stop thinking in these silos. Back in the late ’90s/early 2000s when e-commerce groups were formed, there was some logic to the idea that e-commerce as a separate part of the organization would be more nimble. A lot of companies talked of having a start-up within their walls. They could recruit scarce talent and invest in R&D and marketing ahead of the success curve.

Those days are long since over. The buzzword omni-channel, in its best interpretation, should mean exactly this—tear down the wall. Your customer doesn’t see or want the silos. Worse, your e-commerce group’s greatest advantage versus Amazon IS the stores. All of your investments affect all channels. So build or re-build your decision processes accordingly.

Ralph Jacobson

Who should control mobile marketing? A savvy millennial in the organization. The trouble is defining the org structure that makes sense. Management needs to be careful that mobile marketing, planning, strategy, etc. does not end up as a freestanding silo. Mobile is a vehicle to move the same products that the physical store sells. It represents the same merchant brand and brand promise.

Lee Kent

Knowing that a customer is in your store and trying to buy a currency from them like say, their attention or their interaction, does not spell marketing to me. That is building a customer experience. With that said, I am hard pressed to put all things “mobile” into the marketing bucket. It just isn’t!

And that’s my 2 cents!

Gajendra Ratnavel

This is the unfortunate reality of “new” things. By new, I mean those things that the current work force finds new, not what is really new in the world. We face a similar problem on a daily basis.

The issue, from what I can tell is this: The marketing department, who should be responsible in my opinion, is considered not to have the expertise in the field to make the right decisions by executive management. In other cases it is just incorrectly categorized due to lack of understanding from management.

Ultimately, I would look at this and ask, who is responsible for the results from the campaign? Everyone should be measuring the results some way and it is most likely marketing that is responsible.

The budget should be controlled by marketing and marketing should be held accountable for the expected ROI.

Marketing should push to bring the budget under their umbrella and take a leadership position in driving mobile marketing and use the web/e-commerce team as a resource.

Regarding silos: Yes, absolutely—it’s an outdated concept that many companies are still using. Why? It’s easy! It’s what they know and are comfortable with and for the most part, they get by.

Kai Clarke

This is a non-issue, since most companies don’t even have an e-commerce department, let alone skilled people to use and apply financial resources appropriately to this oft-misunderstood portion of marketing. Most importantly, all types of marketing should fall under the domain of marketing. Companies don’t have separate departments for print marketing, TV marketing, e-commerce marketing, etc.


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