By Brad Smith
With mobile eclipsing desktops and televisions as the first screen for 46 percent1 of 18- to 34-year-olds, optimizing your marketing for mobile consumption is no longer optional. This younger demographic isn’t alone in its love for all things mobile: In 2013, 96 percent2 of the global population — 6.8 billion people — were active mobile users. Each year, more and more of those mobile users are switching to smartphones. By 2015, more than 80 percent3 of cell phone users in the United States are expected to make the transition.
Ready to go mobile? Read on to learn how you can cash in on the growing number of consumers shopping on their mobile devices.
Research indicates smartphone users are utilizing their handheld devices to do more than communicate with friends and family — they’re actively researching prospective purchases. In fact, 64 percent4 of smartphone owners use their phones to shop online — and that number will continue to grow.
In the days following Thanksgiving 2013, mobile commerce (mCommerce) accounted for roughly $90 million5 in sales — in just three days. In fact, 25 percent of all eCommerce purchases made on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) were made from mobile devices. This shows shoppers are increasingly turning to their phones as their primary online shopping tool; they are comfortable using their phones to shop for the products they need — no matter how large or small they may be.
These facts make it pretty clear that you need to make sure your website is optimized for mobile so that you can create a shopping experience that is enjoyable, easy and interactive.
One question to ask yourself: What does your current website say to mobile visitors? Is it immediately enticing, depicting the products and deals you offer in an organized format? Does it communicate your brand?
Make your mobile site one that smartphone shoppers don’t want to pass by. Give them a reason to browse on your site. Remember, all it takes is the swipe of a finger on a screen to lose a mobile customer.
Think of your mobile store in the same way you would think of your brick-and-mortar store. If someone walks into your store, are they able to clearly see the top products you offer? Can they easily navigate around the space? That same concept should apply to your mobile site. Give online customers a reason to “walk in,” and make it convenient for them to not only browse, but also find what they’re looking for.
Enhancing the shopping experience
A lot of customers use their smartphones to find store locations. Having GPS capabilities tied into your mobile site will help them easily find their way to you.
At least 50 percent of smartphone shoppers utilize GPS or mapping applications to locate store locations. What better way to give those shoppers a great first impression than through a convenient store locator?
A mobile site that allows customers to pull up a map or easily access point-by-point directions could mean the difference between potential buyers choosing you over the competition.
A lot of customers visiting your mobile site may also be looking for contact information. Is it easy to find that information at first glance? Is a potential customer able to call you with the click of a button? Giving them the opportunity to do so will increase your opportunities to engage with that customer, which is likely to result in traffic and sales in your brick-and-mortar store.
Even if your desktop website platform includes this information, it’s not enough to capture the smartphone crowd. If customers have to squint and attempt to “zoom in” on their screen in an effort to find your contact information, they’re likely not going to take the time to do so. This is why mobile-friendly sites are so important.
When you’re hosting a community event or in-store promotion, how are you letting your customers and prospects know about it? A great way to reach customers is directly through their mobile phones. With the click of a button, you can disperse your message straight to their handheld device through a clear and concise text message.
When you send a text message to your customers, they’re almost guaranteed to see it. Most people are alerted when text messages arrive in their inbox — and most mobile users read those text messages. In fact, research shows that between 95 and 98 percent of recipients read their text messages within minutes of the message being received.
Mobile coupons are also increasingly becoming an effective way to reach customers and draw them into your store. Research6 indicates customers are 10 times more likely to take advantage of text coupons than traditional print coupons. While text marketing can definitely work in your favor, it’s important to remember that not all text marketing efforts are created equal. Before you send a text out to your customers, ask yourself whether they’d be excited to read it. Is your text list targeted at those who have already shown interest in your products through purchases or inquiries? Would they likely come in and take advantage of the in-store promotions? Make sure you’re providing them with information they’d likely want to receive; otherwise, you’ll overwhelm customers and cause them to unsubscribe from your text messaging list.
Of course, text marketing doesn’t work without the mobile numbers of customers you’re attempting to reach. When you make a sale or help a customer with an inquiry, be sure to ask those customers or prospects if they’d like to be notified of in-store promotions and coupons and ask how they’d prefer to get them — text, email or both.
Use these tactics to develop your own mobile marketing strategy and connect with your customers wherever they are.
Brad Smith is ARI’s Director of Product. ARI creates award-winning software solutions that help equipment manufacturers, distributors and dealers “Sell More Stuff!” – online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!” Smith holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.