Despite mobile gobbling up web traffic and becoming an evermore mainstream way to make purchases, an alarming number of brands don’t have a long-term mobile strategy. Only one in five companies have a defined mobile strategy, even though nearly one-third of all sales take place via mobile devices — and that number is expected to continue climbing, according to a Digital Intelligence Briefing released in July by Adobe and Econsultancy.

Even though most organizations understand that they need to focus on mobile, nearly half of surveyed companies had no mobile strategy at all — and most of the rest of the companies admit their strategies are all not well-defined.

Data from the Digital Intelligence Briefing by Adobe and Econsultancy

What are the consequences? Companies without a defined mobile strategy are far more likely to have fewer sales – 10 percent fewer – than companies with a strategy, the study’s authors say.

At the same time, the number of mobile users is exploding. Cisco predicts there will be 5.5 billion global mobile users by 2020, compared to 4.8 billion now, according to WebProNews.

Meanwhile Instagram (armed with 500 million monthly active users) will bring in $595 million in mobile ad revenue worldwide this year, according to eMarketer, which predicts Instagram’s rapid growth will bring in global mobile ad revenue of $2.81 billion worldwide in 2017.

And then there’s video, which is even more popular – making up the majority of global mobile data traffic, according to WebProNews. One-third more people watch videos on their smartphones compared to a year ago.

Yet, even as mobile continues its growth, too many companies are unsure how to leverage these mobile users.

“With nearly two-thirds of companies expecting most of their digital traffic to be mobile in the near future, it’s imperative for these companies to enhance their mobile capacities,” according to the Adobe study.

Forward-thinking companies, the authors say, are paying attention to the fundamentally different experience of mobile shoppers and are beginning to, at the least, brainstorm strategies based around customer needs, desires and experiences.

This evolution has led three in five organizations to increase their mobile investments in the next year, according to the Adobe study. But it requires more than tinkering with websites so they fit on a mobile device. That strategy is ultimately unsuccessful, the study says, and it leads to customer complaints about uninspiring homepages and annoying registration processes.

It’s too difficult to make a purchase, users say. Consumers want to be surprised and delighted. They want an easy way to make a purchase when an item strikes their fancy.

And creating a mobile app may not be the way to go, either. More than half of organizations that created their own apps say it’s difficult to stand out among all of the choices, according to the Adobe study.

That’s just one of the barriers facing companies seeking to hit the moving mobile target. Slightly more than four in 10 companies in the Adobe study say lack of resources (including budget and staff) is the main challenge preventing them from effectively optimizing their mobile web and mobile app presence.

Lack of knowledge or understanding within the organization is the second-largest barrier, at 22%, followed by a close third and fourth challenge – difficulty understanding the needs of consumers (10%) and difficulty measuring ROI and building a business case (9%).

Remarkably, organizations with defined mobile strategies are twice as likely as their peers to express difficulty in understanding consumer needs.

“This suggests a greater awareness of the challenges around optimizing mobile success than their peers with less defined strategies,” the Adobe study said.

Want to learn how to make the most of your visual content on mobile and across other online touchpoints? Check out our Complete Guide to Visual Commerce.