I am about to share with you a very simple sentence. Please don’t dismiss it just because it seems too simple, OK?
“You must be found where your clients are searching and be easy to connect to.”
Yes, I realize that this sentence is simple. But so much has changed in just the past 12 months that it bears repeating: You need to be where – and how – your customers are searching, you need to be easy to find, and you need to make the experience simple.
I recently gave a presentation on mobile marketing at the annual Tow Mans Convention in Baltimore, where more than 10,000 towing company operators were present. As I started to show some statistics on mobile marketing, a member of the audience jumped up and started screaming. No, he wasn’t angry at me, but he sure was angry. Why? He had just spent more than $200,000 (yes, you read that correctly) on Yellow Pages print ads for his tow business and shops.
The two photos to the right are what greatly upset him.
Studies show that the things most people carry around and engage with all day are their mobile devices. That’s at least 15 waking hours a day, if not more. Before I go on, let me explain that a mobile device can be a tablet, like an iPad, or a smartphone like those powered by Android, BlackBerry or Apple.
You not only want to easily be found on mobile devices, you also need to be easy to connect with. And that means having a mobile-friendly version of your website or even a dedicated mobile app for your shop. Mobile versions of your regular website are streamlined for smartphones and tablets. The pages come up faster, look as though they were designed for the format (because they were) and deliver the key information you want potential customers to know – quickly and efficiently.
Take your smartphone or tablet and look at some websites that have not been optimized for mobile. What looks good on a 21-inch desktop screen or even a 13-inch laptop appears crunched or heavily segmented on a 3.5-inch iPhone screen. Imagine a customer desperately needing emergency tire service trying to make contact with you through a web experience like that.
All of these facts point to your need for having a mobile website that allows your customers to connect easily and effectively with you.
Adapt and Prosper
Google predicts that this year, searches for businesses on mobile devices will overtake those on computers and desktops. That means people will be searching on their mobile phones for your business and you must make sure you can be found.
Here’s what I mean. Look above at a service station’s website before and after it was mobile-optimized.
Do you see the difference? It’s important to realize that when consumers are searching for you on their mobile devices, they’re looking to take an action. In fact, more than 80% of searches on mobile devices are for a local business and often result in a visit or sale within 24 hours.
With a mobile-optimized website, customers can just click a button and the phone will dial the business. They can schedule an appointment. They can hit the highlighted address and it will integrate right into their mobile navigation app. They can get coupons. They can even hit a button and refer a friend or relative to your shop.
Is Anyone Searching For Me?
The short answer is: Yes.
Google provides a tool that allows you to see monthly what search terms people are using to find what they are looking for, what devices they are searching on, and the number of people searching. This can provide a very clear picture of where we need to be found.
For example, more than a year ago there were 3,000 monthly searches for “auto repair Tampa” on desktop/laptops and 900 on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).
That number grew each and every day, and as of mid-February 2013, there were more than 1,500 mobile searches per month. Meanwhile, the number of computer-based web searches (desktops and laptops) has fallen to around 1,500 per month.
That means that one-half of all searches are now on mobile devices – and that number continues to grow.
Why Should I Care?
Don’t you hate it when a salesperson calls or visits you and promises you the world? They have the cure for your business and promise to show you the best way to get new customers fast. Well, it’s time to hold them accountable. The simple way to do this is by knowing what the return on your investment is for mobile optimization.
The best way to accomplish this is to apply an old trick used to track the effectiveness of print or radio ads: count the visitors generated.
For a set period of time – say two weeks – ask every visitor how they found your business. You could even ask specifically: Did you search for our shop on your smartphone? Track the number of visitors you’re getting from your mobile website.
One method for tracking information is Google Analytics, a service that tracks website traffic, where the visitors came from and what they did while on a website. Google Analytics can be applied to mobile websites, as well.
In an example for one of our clients in the Baltimore area, a four-bay tire and service center, Google Analytics showed the shop received 87 new website visitors in the past 30 days. But the shop also can now see how many coupons were redeemed because the customers had to show their mobile device with the coupons on it.
Some Simple Math
Just to recap: We know that searches are happening on mobile devices. We know that people searching on mobile devices tend to be action-takers looking to connect, and not just shoppers.
We know that one particular tire shop had 87 visitors generated by mobile optimization. If this shop’s average ticket is $300 per transaction and it was only able to service 10% of the additional visitors, that means an additional $2,600 in revenue in just 30 days.
Now if we contrast this with most Yellow Pages or similar ads, or advertising in newspapers or on radio or TV, you can see a clear difference. Does $200,000 in Yellow Page advertising generate $200,000 in new revenue? Or is that what it costs just to keep the business you already have?
Instead of hoping an ad is working, mobile marketing means you can now know for sure if the money invested is producing a return or not.
Take a minute right now – before you turn to the next page – and go to trackableresponseauto.com. There is a link there that allows you to see what your customers see when they search for you on their mobile device. Look at the image and ask yourself: is your shop easy to connect with? Maybe this is one thing you can easily fix and see an immediate return in new business.
Brian Sacks is a mobile marketing expert with more than 26 years of direct response marketing experience. He is co-founder of Trackable Response Inc., a mobile marketing provider to the tire and auto service industries, based in Catonsville, Md. Brian can be reached at [email protected] or 410-747-1100.