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Marketers are expecting to invest an average of £340,000 (about US$529,000) in customer-facing mobile projects over the next 12-18 months, according to a study conducted by Vanson Bourne for Antenna Software. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The 'Mobile Business Forecast for Marketers 2012' study examined the types of mobile deployments that brands are currently undertaking, and the difficulties they face in getting customers to use those mobile offerings. Crucially, the research indicates that investment in the use of outside creative agencies will probably decrease as brands seek greater control over the development and management of their mobile initiatives.

The research surveyed 1,000 business decision makers in the UK and US about their current and future mobile projects, and found that 45% of brands are currently working on a mobile website, while 43% are working on 'native' mobile apps for consumers. Interestingly, 32% of businesses are working on web-apps for their customers, while 14% are working on building their own branded app stores that are unique to their company.

At the same time, only 20% of businesses in the UK and US said they have seen their customer-facing mobile projects taken up by the majority of the consumers they were aimed at, underscoring the challenges brands face when looking to grab and retain attention in the crowded mobile content space.

The report also examined the key frustrations that businesses face when commissioning mobile projects via third-party creative agencies, highlighting a lack of control over projects developed. Some 45% of businesses who had used a third-party agency said that they were dissatisfied with the length of time it took to complete the project, while 21% said the final product was not easy to use.

Design was another key frustration highlighted by brands, as 11% said they felt the final build was not 'sleek' enough and 10% said they did not feel it aligned properly with company branding.

"Ever since the launch of the first iPhone, demand for mobile apps has skyrocketed and helped to ignite a kind of 'marketing renaissance'. Marketers are spending more and more on mobile, looking at new ways to engage with customers and offer a truly multi-channel experience - not just through traditional apps, but also mobile websites, web apps and even their own branded app stores," concluded Jim Somers, chief marketing and strategy officer for Antenna Software. "But it's clear that not all projects are a success, and our research shows that many businesses are frustrated by the design and usability of the mobile projects they commission."