The State of Mobile Marketing in Asia Pacific report published this week by Econsultancy and the Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific (MMA) takes a close look at how APAC organisations and agencies are responding to the ever-expanding reach and importance of mobile.

The research, which is accompanied by country-specific presentations for Australia, China, India and Singapore, looks at the extent to which companies are committed to mobile, the channels and technologies they are using, and the challenges they face in improving their capabilities in this area.

The survey is based on responses from more than 800 businesses based in Asia Pacific (including client-side and agency respondents).

Here are some of the key takeaways:

APAC companies are rising to the challenge and investing in mobile

With so much opportunity on the table, it would be foolish for companies to rest on their laurels. As expected, there appears to be a strong appetite among APAC organisations to get more involved with mobile.

Two thirds (67%) of companies in Asia say mobile will become a fundamental part of their marketing and commerce strategy.

Three in five are backing that up by planning on increasing their spend on mobile marketing by an average of 20%. Meanwhile, just 3% of organisations will be decreasing their allocated spend in this area.

Although 30% of companies in Asia Pacific do cite a lack of resources as a significant barrier to investing further in mobile marketing, the message from most respondents is they know how important mobile is and they are trying to do something about it.

Experimentation will be key over the next 12 months

Companies are only scratching the surface with how they can use mobile to in enhance their customers’ experience. Encouragingly, businesses appear to be committed to trying new tactics and are putting the resources behind them.

Over two in five organisations (44%) based in Asia Pacific say they have budget specifically allocated to experimenting with mobile over the next year. Chinese companies, who are some of the most mature in terms of mobile capabilities, are most likely to have allocated budget to experimenting, with 60% saying that’s the case.

Among other areas, mobile coupons is an area that will see a lot more activity over the next 12 months in Asia. While just 26% of companies are planning on using the mobile technology, this is an increase of 16 percentage points from the proportion of companies currently incorporating mobile coupons into their activities to engage with customers.

Mobile channels and technologies: current versus planned use

Many organisations lack a strategic direction for their mobile marketing

Although there is clearly excitement and activity around utilising mobile, it seems most of this is being done with the absence of a strategic direction for mobile.

Less than a quarter of the responding companies (24%) claim to have a ‘well-defined mobile strategy’ and an even smaller proportion, (18%) described themselves as being ‘mobile first’.

More than a quarter of companies (28%) cited ‘no clearly defined strategy’ as a significant barrier to investing more resources in mobile marketing, a sentiment more than echoed by agencies respondents: 41% of agencies said the same thing regarding their clients.

While the increase in spending and the commitment to trying new tactics is encouraging, it is also important to see how mobile fits into the long-term goal of give customers an excellent experience. With so many customers using the mobile devices several times a day, companies must have the infrastructure, capabilities and processes to meet them. Building these things takes a strategic approach and time.

Companies in Asia have “taken the leap”

That being said, we are still at an embryonic state of mobile marketing in Asia Pacific. Despite the already substantial market share of mobile subscribers, Asia Pacific is expected to remain one of the world’s fastest growing mobile markets through 2020 and beyond.

It will take time, resources and experimentation for APAC to mature mobile experiences for their customers. However, the leap many businesses are taking bodes well for the future, according to Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director of the Mobile Marketing Association Asia Pacific:

It’s clear from the study that there is still a long way to go before the industry is able to overcome the brand strategy disconnect in mobile. It is encouraging to see however that those brands that have taken the leap are now allocating budgets specifically to experimenting with mobile, and using it in more innovative ways too.

Click here to find more about the State of Mobile Marketing in Asia Pacific and to see the country-specific presentations for Australia, China, India and Singapore.