Recently, I overhead a dealership manager say, “We don’t need mobile marketing. We do fine with email.” We had to break it to him that studies have shown more than 50% of email messages are now opened on mobile devices—so intentionally or not, they are already practicing mobile marketing.
Mobile isn’t a separate initiative—it needs to be woven into all of your marketing efforts. Here’s how.
1. Use responsive design techniques
Responsive design enables Web pages to be rendered on any size screen, automatically rearranging and cascading the layout so pages look good and function as intended, no matter what device they are viewed on.
In 2014, we passed an important tipping point—more Web pages are viewed on mobile devices than on desktop computers. The only way to make sure your site works well across all types of devices is to utilize responsive design. You don’t need a separate mobile site—that’s an old-fashioned approach and difficult to maintain.
2. Make sure email templates are responsive
Again, this is because most of your emails are probably being read on a mobile device. Creating these templates can be more complex than creating responsive Web pages, because emails need to be tested against different desktop email clients (such as Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo!) and many different mobile apps.
Most modern customer-engagement platforms now incorporate responsive templates (which you can personalize) that allow you to automatically test and view how your message will render on each of the major email platforms and apps. Take advantage of these templates; they are difficult to develop on your own.
3. Ensure campaign landing pages are responsive
If you already have a responsive website, this should take care of itself. Many dealers, however, include links in their emails to coupons or graphics that are hosted elsewhere, and they haven’t accounted for mobile viewing.
In cases like this, they create a great mobile experience in their email, but then force customers to zoom in and out to read your coupon on a bad landing page—not a great user experience. This illustrates the importance of responsive design.
4. Don’t forget SMS
Millennials tend to text far more often than they email. This can be a plus for marketers, because text messages have a 99% read rate, with 90% read within three minutes of delivery. Outsell’s data shows that dealers enjoy an average 31% response rate across their short message service (SMS) campaigns. That’s a significantly higher than a typical email campaign.
Consider adding SMS campaigns to your marketing mix. Because the number of characters for an SMS message is limited, marketers typically include a short text note with a Web link, which ideally brings customers to a (responsive) website. Don’t forget that you need an explicit opt-in before you start sending SMS messages.
5. Keep experimenting and testing
When something’s working reasonably well, it’s tempting to just keep it going. But with mobile marketing, you need to constantly update your techniques.
We recently worked with a large dealership that had seen email response rates slowly decline. We bookended the navigation elements on its email template by including important links such as “Browse inventory now” and “Click here to set up a test drive” at both the top and the bottom of the template.
This technique resulted in a much higher click-through rate for mobile subscribers because it strategically placed these important links in easily accessible places that didn’t require users to scroll up and down on their phone or tablet.
Checklist for would-be mobile marketers
The easiest avenue for dealers is to implement a customer engagement platform incorporating all of these capabilities. Before you choose a platform, however, ask for sample messages from it, then:
- See how they look. Do graphics render properly on different devices? Does the context flex properly for different screen sizes?
- See how they work together. There shouldn’t be a single landing page or subpage that doesn’t flex for mobile.
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Can you easily find what you need in the message? Is it easy to tap on links, even on a small phone screen?
- Make sure the platform supports all major email clients (e.g., Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo!) in combination with the different phone operating systems (chiefly Android, iOS, and Microsoft Windows) and the many mobile email apps.
In the early days of mobile marketing, designers built and maintained separate mobile websites and created email templates in one long, skinny column so they could be read on very small screens. With the advent of responsive design, it’s an unnecessary duplication of work and resources.
Some dealers still use “m.sites,” but it’s an approach that comes off as old-fashioned to today’s tech-savvy car buyers. So don’t do it. Follow these five tips to modernize your mobile marketing and increase your dealership’s appeal to buyers.
Craig Vore is insights manager—strategy and optimization at Outsell. He is responsible for driving campaign strategy and creative innovation in Outsell’s Digital Engagement Platform by leveraging data and content to improve marketing performance and consumer engagement. He leads the entire plan-implement-measure-refine optimization cycle in channels including Web, direct mail, email, mobile, and social marketing.