How Much Should You Spend on Mobile Marketing?

How Much Should You Spend on Mobile Marketing?

How much should your business spend on mobile marketing? What percentage of your overall marketing budget should you allocate to mobile? Happily, there’s a simple formula everyone can use…

Kidding – no, there isn’t. Your mobile spend can vary widely based on a huge number of factors, including your best-performing channels. Your website, social media accounts, SMS messaging, localisation strategy, and even a dedicated (and optimized) app for your business are all important aspects of the overall strategy you need to consider.

Is every channel right for you? Unlikely – but with the right tactics even businesses that don’t seem like they’d benefit greatly from mobile marketing can drive a massive difference in awareness, customer satisfaction, and sales.


Here comes the science.

Prominent predictions cast 2017 as the year mobile actually overtakes desktop traffic. Last year, ComScore recorded that literally all digital growth now stems from mobile users. 100%. All of it.

But that doesn’t mean you should focus exclusively on mobile, or that you need to expand your marketing budget (though the latter never hurts if it’s feasible).

According to MarketingLand, users still spend about 35% of their time on desk-bound devices. Although that number’s falling fast, it’s still significant – you wouldn’t want to ignore a third of your chances to make an impression.

Could it be as simple as matching your desk:mobile marketing spend ratio to these figures? We wish. That’s not a bad place to start, though, as long as you fine-tune the number to match the way your users engage with your business.

And here’s the best reason to make your business more mobile-friendly: mobile shoppers spend more. Much more, according to the Google Shopper Marketing Council.

So – how do you do that?

Mobile marketing done right

It’s 2017, and simply blasting ads at whoever’s nearby isn’t productive in most industries. Your customers find it invasive and annoying, which aren’t adjectives you want associated with your business.

Notable exceptions to the ad-blasting rule include things like restaurants in food courts and other highly-situational businesses; e.g. plumbers or realtors (more on this in a moment) – but even then you have more productive options.

To choose the right mobile strategy for your business, you first need to know if you’ll reach anybody. As always, data is king: services like Google Analytics can show you how your web traffic’s divided between desk and mobile at a glance. If your site uses WordPress, there are (free) plugins to give you the same insight.

Desktop Mobile Tablet Sessions

Source: Hallam Internet

If you have tons of mobile traffic…

Given the numbers above, that makes sense – you’re on track! What you’re doing is working and you should focus ever-closer on mobile initiatives starting right now, today. Either your website’s well-optimized for mobile viewing, your app’s getting lots of downloads and usage, or you’re broadcasting your messaging in the right places at the right times. Maybe all of these.

Great job! Keep that momentum going.

If you don’t…

Remember, all digital growth is mobile and will be for the foreseeable future. Desktops will almost certainly never disappear completely, but money invested in non-mobile marketing is already subject to decreasing returns. And that means it’s likely time to shift your focus.

What’s going wrong, and what could you be doing differently?

Small changes… big differences

The changes you need to make in your mobile marketing strategy and/or budget will depend on how you’re currently acquiring customers.

Mobile-friendly websites

Most likely you’re pulling a large portion of them to your website through content marketing and social media. If so, one of your best bets would be to make sure it’s the best-optimized site around for mobile viewing (“responsive”).

Not only does this improve users’ experience on-site, but it draws more users in because Google gives heavy preference to mobile-friendly sites that look nice and load quickly without burning through users’ data caps.

This could be as simple as installing a new theme or switching your hosting to a quicker server. Easy. If your site’s not mobile-friendly (you can test it here, free) you should seriously consider an overhaul to get or keep yourself on Page One, where your customers can find you easily.


This can be hit or miss: you need to be sure you’re targeting your prospects appropriately and not annoying anybody. The rise of ad-blockers has caused problems for traditional models, but right now there’s major opportunity to leap ahead of your competitors in the mobile space because their ad spending lags far behind media consumption rates.

Will ad-blocking continue to grow in popularity? Yes. That said, you can take measures to ensure you’re always visible to the people who want to see you. And one of the most important ones is a mobile application for your business.


New research from Nielsen, one of the most trusted behaviour-tracking firms in the world, shows:

Comscore App Age Chart

In 2017 global users spend an average of 89% of their mobile-device time in-app and only 11% on the web.

Why? You can probably guess. We all know how web browsers work, and more complex site UI features aren’t quite available on mobiles yet. But on the other hand, the apps you use have a much more custom feel, and provide a unique (or at least ‘different’) experience.

That’s great for consumers, and they consume accordingly. But apps have a wide range of benefits for businesses, too – especially if you practice App Store Optimization (ASO) to get your app in front of as many prospects as possible, in the places where they’re most likely to download it.

And, of course, data tracking – right down to the specific individual – helps you identify areas where you can lower costs and improve conversions by optimizing your marketing spend and messaging.

What’s the big apping deal?

  • Create a fully customized, branded environment for your users
  • Enjoy a direct, always-visible channel to your best customers
  • Build an unlimited product catalogue and payment platform
  • Improve engagement with a low-distraction environment
  • Nurture customer loyalty through ease of use/shopping
Start Building Your App for Free

Building business apps is a lot easier and more economical than it was even a few years ago – with a lot more features and variety. These days, they help a wide variety of businesses, physical and virtual, reach new heights of success.

What kinds of businesses should use apps?

Any all-digital business can benefit from adding an app to their marketing mix. But bricks-and-sticks businesses can enjoy equal – even greater – gains. With tech ever-advancing and developers getting ever more creative, this list barely scratches the surface.

  • Retail – this one’s obvious, but retailers are getting super-creative. Think augmented reality, location-based (and location-affiliate!) marketing, plus now only, in-store/online offers and more. And remember: mobile shoppers spend more.
  • Restaurants – every restaurant should have an app. It’s a direct pipeline to customers who have plenty of options and often buy on impulse. Fill seats by offering location-based specials via notification – even use your customer database to promote meals specifically tuned to individual tastes.
  • Hotels & Tourism – travelers don’t always know what’s available. Your app can help them find not just you (and reserve their spot easily), but other, non-competing activities they might enjoy. This can lead to some lucrative, yet cost-effective, partnerships and co-marketing as well as an improved experience for users.
  • Car/Auto Dealerships – unless you’re selling Lamborghinis, buying a vehicle most often requires a long-ish sales cycle for consumer goods. People do their homework, researching various makes and models to find the best fit. Help them – feature your new or on-sale models, GEO listings in their area, and book viewings with a quick tap.
  • Real estate agencies – help prospective homeowners see all your (and only your) listings at a glance, filter them down by any criteria they like, and book a viewing all in a few taps. They’ll save tons of time and you or your agents will show – and sell – more properties more efficiently by eliminating showings of properties that don’t fit the bill.
  • Contractors & Tradespeople – make consults push-button simple, get more service bookings, keep clients updated on their project’s progress, and even create your own real-time messaging centers for your long-term projects. You can feature in-app quoting abilities and a secure repository for documentation.

So… how much should you spend on mobile marketing?

With desktops fading away, mobile is an absolutely essential part of any modern marketing strategy. Alas, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There is, however, a simple way to choose your starting point:

Track the ways your customers engage with you, provide more opportunities to do so on mobile devices (through a mobile-ready website, free mobile application, and mobile advertising), and carefully transition more of your marketing budget into what works best for you. Rinse, repeat, and optimize.

And if you’ve got questions about how to get started? We’re always ready to help.