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Survey: Online retailers boosting mobile marketing initiatives

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Washington, D.C. Consumers’ increasing appetite for mobile applications is driving online retailers to speed up their mobile marketing initiatives. According to a Forrester Research study produced in partnership with Shop.org, the National Retail Federation’s digital division, nearly three-quarters (74%) of online retailers either already have or are developing a mobile strategy. One-in-five boasts having a fully implemented mobile strategy in place already.

The survey of 109 companies is part of “The State of Retailing Online” research series, which provides eBusiness professionals with an annual industry benchmark for marketing and business investment and activities.

“Mobile investment is modest now, but we see that it will pick up in the future, especially among the biggest brands that have already invested significant amounts in their mobile operations,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, VP principal analyst, Forrester Research, and lead author of the report.

Earlier this year, Forrester forecast U.S. online retail sales to total $173 billion in 2010.

According to “The State of Retailing Online: Marketing, Social Commerce and Mobile Report,” web retailers with mobile strategies:

  • Are investing in features that support the cross-channel experience. Product and price information, store information, and coupons to support the in-store experience are among the most popular features that retailers are offering consumers;

  • Have varied level of investment. While respondents anticipated spending on average $170,000 on their mobile sites this year, large multichannel retailers are spending several times that amount, while smaller online pure plays on average are investing much less;

  • Are experiencing modest gains. Retailers reported that their mobile browsers at this juncture are generating a little less than 3% of overall site traffic and just 2% of revenue;

  • Tried and true marketing tactics such as paid search, email and affiliate marketing command the biggest percentage of an online retailers’ marketing budget. According to the report, retailers are spending nearly 40% of their marketing budget on paid search; and

  • Retailers are finding value in social media marketing, but the ROI for driving online sales remains murky. Listening to customers is the most significant objective for social tools according to respondents, with 80% of retailers reporting that they are pursuing social strategies to experiment and learn. And while 28% noted that social marketing has helped grow their business, direct sales from social tactics are not widely measured.